Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson, Andrew Stanton, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver (voices)
Written by: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse, Bob Peterson
Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements
Running Time: 103
Date: 06/17/2016

Finding Dory (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Keep Swimming

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Advancing a lovable supporting character to a lead role is sometimes a bad idea (i.e. Cars 2, Minions). But, when the supporting characters are far less annoying than the lead characters, it can be a good idea (i.e. freeing Puss in Boots from Shrek, and the Penguins of Madagascar from the rest of their zoo crew). Pixar's new Finding Dory must have been a tricky prospect, because so many people love Finding Nemo (it's one of the biggest moneymakers in the studio's history) and also because Dory could easily have fallen into a one-joke pattern (her short-term memory loss).

However, since Marlin was such an irritating worrywart, and because Dory was among the best characters Pixar ever created, it was worth a shot. And it pays off. Filmmaker Andrew Stanton has found a way to make Dory even more appealing, digging into her psyche and uncovering just what a lifetime of apologizing for forgetting things can do to someone.

After Nemo (now voiced by Hayden Rolence) has been found, Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) continues to stay with him and Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks). When she suddenly remembers her parents -- and a possible location for them -- she decides to go looking for them, with Marlin and Nemo's help. The turtle Crush (voiced by Stanton) gets them to California, to the Monterey Marine Life Institute.

Dory is separated from Marlin and Nemo, but finds help from an octopus (actually, given that he's missing a tentacle, a septopus), named Hank (voiced by Ed O'Neill). In the best Pixar mode, she faces all kinds of obstacles, but thanks to a beluga whale and a whale shark, a pair of sea lions, some cute otters, and an insane-looking gull named "Becky," our heroes persevere.

The excellent voicework also includes Idris Elba and Dominic West as the sea lions, Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton as Dory's parents, Kaitlin Olson and Ty Burrell as the whale shark and beluga whale, Kate McKinnon and Bill Hader as a fish couple that tries to help in one scene, and, finally, Sigourney Weaver in a very special performance. In the 13 years since the last film, technology has come a long way, and the feel of underwater is now totally immersive and photorealistic.

In many ways, Finding Dory improves upon its predecessor, although it still doesn't rank as any kind of major achievement for the beloved animation studio. It's nothing profound, but it is, at least, a solid piece of storytelling, with some beautiful scenery, some funny jokes, and some touching moments. In other words, it gets by swimmingly.

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