North Texas Daily

The Dose: ‘Finding Dory’ treads old waters, just keeps swimming

The Dose: ‘Finding Dory’ treads old waters, just keeps swimming

June 20
10:30 2016

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer


Somewhere between the brilliance of “Inside Out” and “Zootopia,” as well as the obnoxious sequels to “Cars” and “Despicable Me,” Pixar has found middle ground with the solid but very forgettable “Finding Dory.”

Despite being a perfectly enjoyable splash back into the sea of “Finding Nemo,” this film’s biggest problem is it refurbishes the plot of its predecessor with the formerly supporting player as the lead.

Six months after “Finding Nemo” concluded, the amnesiac Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has a series of fragmented memories that may be the key to her lineage. Once she finds that her long lost parents lived in the coast of California, she embarks on a wild adventure – on and off land – to reunite with her family. This thrusts Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) into her pursuit.

Once the backstories are covered, “Finding Dory” becomes entertaining. It’s colorful family fun with great humor, pacing and vignettes that will satisfy young and old viewers alike. In fact, if anything has improved in the 13 years between films, it’s the animation. While the script itself is derivative, the visuals illustrate the ocean in a beautiful way.

Other differences between this film and its predecessor is how it playfully touches on the perils of SeaWorld and other water parks. In doing so, “Finding Dory” touts several action scenes where the famous fish are pitted against unwitting humans onto thrilling results.

Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks, both seasoned comedy legends, are great again in their blue tang/clownfish banter. Backing them up are supporting sea life, including Idris Elba (“The Jungle Book”) and Eugene Levy (“American Pie”) in vital roles. The standouts of this lot are Ed O’Neill (“Modern Family”) as Hank the Octopus and Kaitlin Olson (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) as Destiny, a whale shark that becomes an unexpected ally of Dory’s.

However, this is not a great movie by any means.

The first problem, for the sake of producing a sequel to make billions of dollars, is that the narrative makes Dory the protagonist rather than the sidekick. Not only does this – so to say – water down one of the funniest characters in modern animation, but it requires her to reach newfound levels of memory loss. Effectively beating an old joke into the ground.

Moreover, it lacks original content, which has been a problem with Pixar for the last few years. Pixar maintained a near perfect streak of classics from 1999 to 2010 that focused on mature premises; most of them containing rich subtext for the whole family to love. Those films were original, inventive and never afraid to make you cry at a cartoon scenario.

Since Pixar is completely owned by Disney, originality has taken a backseat to creating franchises. There is nothing original, inventive or remotely tear-jerking about “Finding Dory.” Yes, it’s cute. Yes, it’s jovial. But because it treads the same waters of “Finding Nemo” without its impact or heartbreaking realities of life, I don’t feel the need to ever watch it again.

“Finding Dory” is still worth checking out if you’re a fan of the first movie or Pixar animation as a whole. Just be prepared for it to feel like “Monsters University” rather than “Toy Story 3” – easily digestible when it’s on but forgettable after it ends. It’s a good movie, just not a classic.

Featured Image: Courtesy | Disney

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