Starring the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks and Ed O’Neill
Directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo)
Rated PG for mild thematic elements
First things first. Before the sequel to the Pixar mega hit begins to play, they offer up another short film, in this case Piper. Piper tells the story of a baby sandpiper who is urged by his mother to start finding his own food on the beach. Reluctant at first and very scared of the onslaught of ocean waves, the young bird learns from an unlikely friend how to face his fears and successfully locate dinner. If you get nothing from Dory, this film might just be worth the price of admission. It is mesmerizingly beautiful with a short and sweet story that touches your heart. It is truly one of, if not the best, short films Pixar has produced.
Then comes Dory. Following a year after the events of the 2003’s Finding Nemo, Dory becomes unsettled once she recovers memories of her parents she had not experienced prior. If you remember, Dory has issues with memory loss, and therefore these imprints are inconsistent but create a restlessness inside her, making her want to find her parents at a marine conservatory in Norther California. So off go Dory, Marlin and Nemo on an adventure to bring Dory to her home.
In the animation world, for the most part, there is good, and then there is Pixar good. The worst Pixar films are usually better than most other studios’ best and that is more or less the case here. I’m not sure Dory needed her own story, but they committed and the result is mixed.
In regards to the story, it is average at best. Pixar is known for its creativity and this is far from their creative best. In fact, it is really similar to Finding Nemo in its beats, and drags along at times because of this.
They were able to give us some new characters worth watching though. Dory makes many new friends along the way including a whale shark and a pilot whale, but it is the septipus (an octopus missing a tentacle) who steals the show and gives the project the many pushes it needs to keep it going.
The one thing you can count on every time with Pixar is its animation artistry. The entire film is absolutely stunning to look at and while I think they sometimes use this too much to overcompensate for the lack of story, they definitely put their best foot forward in that department.
The most surprising thing about Finding Dory is the recurring joke with the sea lions who ostracize their seemingly special needs colleague who wants to join them on their rock. While the scenes they are in get big laughs from the kids, I found it to be cruel and not indicative of the film’s spirit of acceptance regardless of handicap (after all, Nemo is respected and loved in spite of his one miniature fin).
Overall, Finding Dory will be a popular summer movie but just don’t expect one of their better performances. B