Finding Dory - Screen Fantastique film review By Mark Geraghty June 14, 2016
There’s a wonderful whimsy about Finding Dory that allows Pixar Animation’s latest film to make us fall in love, all over again, with characters that we haven’t seen or heard from for over thirteen years. Yes, that’s correct… It’s been thirteen years since audiences first met Nemo, Marlin and the ever-forgetful, but always loveable Dory. The new film certainly proves that animation, unlike its live-action counterpart, has no problem picking up a story where it was last left; irrespective of what has happened in the intervening years. Make no mistake though, Finding Dory is not just a sequel; it’s an expansion of the theme and narrative that carried the original film to both critical and box office success.
There’s really no need to elaborate too much about the film’s plot. Andrew Stanton, Finding Nemo’s driving force, is back and teamed-up with Pixar veteran Bob Peterson, coming off the challenges he had with The Good Dinosaur, and newcomer Victoria Strouse to develop the story. Stanton also brought in Angus MacLane, a senior animator at the studio, to co-direct the new film, while tackling the screenplay himself. As one the original Pixar team, Stanton knows how to bring a story to life and, despite its conventional structure and plot, Finding Dory has a lot of heart and gleefully revels in the slapstick it creates throughout its Second and Third Acts. Stanton leaves his audience in little doubt as to what he’s going for as his natatory cast of characters pay respectful heed to the musings of “Sigourney Weaver”, the omnipresent voice of the Monterey Marine Life Institute.
Where Finding Dory really strikes gold is the vocal cast. Both Ellen DeGeneres (Dory) and Albert Brooks (Marlin) return from the original and, while they sound a little older, it’s not a big issue. The same can’t be said for Nemo. Unfortunately, Alexander Gould, Nemo in the original, was way too old to pick up the character, so young Hayden Rolence takes over vocal duties for this new adventure. (Not that Gould was forgotten; he makes a vocal cameo in the new film…) The supporting vocal talent in Finding Dory is phenomenal. Sigourney Weaver aside, the cast features Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West and Bill Hader. (For true Pixar fans, yes, John Ratzenberger gets a gig in the new film.) Of all the new characters, Ed O’Neill’s Hank, an ill-tempered Octopus, whose missing tentacle has Dory referring to him as a “Septopus”, single-tentacaledly (Is that even a word?) steals the movie. His various camouflage techniques are a constant source of visual amusement, but his role as a reluctant saviour provides a great foil for Dory’s Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau-like investigation to find her parents.
Like all Pixar films, all members of the family will find something to enjoy about Finding Dory. It’s not a true classic in the way that Up, Wall-E or the Toy Story trilogy are, but it’s clever, funny and it works incredibly hard to make sure the audience remain connected to the story no matter how ridiculous things seem to be getting. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the film’s climax. Not to give anything away, but the comic irony at play between the visuals and the musical score at a critical moment in the story is the funniest sequence that Pixar has ever committed to film and is a true laugh-out-loud moment that will be fondly recalled well after the cinema lights have come up. Finding Dory is a charming, well-intended film. It has a great underlying perspective about society’s acceptance of some serious issues, such as dementia, abandonment and animal welfare. Yet, like its aquatic setting, it has a buoyancy that will have movie-goers leaving the cinema feeling upbeat and asking themselves, “What would Dory do?”
Finding Dory is in Australian cinemas from June 16, 2016.
Once you've seen Finding Dory, let us know what you think by leaving a comment.