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Pixar's Second Fish Tale: Finding Dory
The animated feature Finding Dory primarily takes place one year after the events of Finding Nemo, which Pixar released in 2003. Ellen DeGeneres returns to voice Dory, a regal blue tang who lives in the waters off Australia with her clownfish friend Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence). Marlin and Nemo also serve as Dory's protectors for Dory, who suffers from short-term memory loss. One day when she gets involved in Nemo's school, his teacher says something that triggers Dory's long-term memory. As a little fish, Dory lost track of her parents, Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy). In spite of Marlin's concerns, Dory wants to go across the ocean to see if she can find them. A ride from a group of migrating sea turtles helps the trio make the trip back to the west coast. However, Dory's enthusiasm gets her in trouble when she puts them in a dangerous situation. Separated from the clownfish, Dory gets captured and tagged by a marine life sanctuary that also houses an aquatic park.
There, she meets Hank (Ed O'Neill), an octopus who agrees to help Dory find her parents in exchange for her tag. Marlin and Nemo, though, still want to make sure Dory is safe, and quickly understand she meant no harm to them. They get help from a couple of seals named Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West), who point the fish in the direction of the park and a loon who gets them there. The fish also get aid at the sanctuary from Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a shark who remembers Dory, and Bailey (Ty Burrell), an injured beluga whale recovering from a concussion. As the fish try to find their loved ones, the people at the institute have plans that could mean no happy reunions.
Finding Dory is the best Pixar sequel to date that doesn't have the words Toy Story in its title. The basic tale of Finding Dory, however, doesn't vary much from Finding Nemo. Each movie involves a family reunion, and each movie ends predictably. The sequel, though, still remains a good journey because Dory doesn't have a mean bone in her regal blue tang body. Her memory issues, though, become the source of frustration for both Marlin and Hank. Andrew Stanton, who directed and co-wrote Finding Nemo, returns to the same capacities for Finding Dory. He builds upon each successive situation with the aquatic life with a wild conclusion. The animation remains Pixar's high standard - bright and fluid.
DeGeneres and Brooks remain enjoyable as a fish odd couple. Dory, in her condition, lives in the moment. When she senses something, she acts on it. At the sanctuary, she feels as though Sigourney Weaver (as herself, providing narration for park exhibits) talks to her. Marlin can only hope Dory doesn't lead them all into serious predicaments. Brooks, as the clownfish, never forgets to be a protector for both Dory and Nemo. O'Neill is a whole lot of fun as Hank, an octupus who doesn't understand everything involved in making a deal with Dory. He does, however, provide valuable camoflage while enduring jokes from Dory about the type of octopus he is. Olson and Burrell provide fine vocal support as creatures who also provide the fish assistance. Elba and West provide laughs as seals who love the comfort of their rock, while Keaton and Levy do nicely as Dory's reassuring parents. Alexander Gould, who voiced Nemo in Finding Nemo, makes a vocal contribution as a couple of sanctuary workers. John Ratzenberger, as usual, also makes a cameo voice appearance. Stanton himself reprises his role as Crush, a sea turtle. Stay around past the end credits for a cameo from the Tank Gang from Finding Nemo (featuring the voices of Willem Dafoe, Allison Janney, and others). The theatrical film begins with a complementary short entitled Piper, about a newborn sandpiper learning to become a part of the flock.
Another one of Pixar's original ten shows it had one more tale to tell. Finding Dory may not deviate much from Finding Nemo, but it is fun, as well as a bit poignant. Dory, much like Andy and his toys from the Toy Story movies, is a character that lends herself to revisiting because of her sense of adventure. Further, Dory is one of the most likeable characters in the Pixar film series, whose infectious charm touches anyone who meets her. Dory may have a problem with her memory, but she knows who and what matter most of all.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Finding Dory 3.5 stars. A fish tale that's quite the catch.