Rather than attempt to replicate the masterful Finding Nemo, Pixar wisely goes a different route with its sequel Finding Dory. While Nemo was an against-the-odds adventure that deserved an epic scale, Dory is more of an infiltration comedy that largely sticks to one area: a marine life institute. Does it reach the emotional heights of its original? No. Is it funnier? Surprisingly, yes.
Dory’s short term memory loss is treated more seriously this time around, opening with a sombre scene explaining how she became lost. It deflates the heart before pumping it right back up when she begins to remember her parents in tiny doses. The film then gets a bit too hasty moving from their ocean home to the institute, but once there, the jittery pace makes sense as the jokes fire at the rate of a machine gun.
Marlin and Nemo are secondary here, but aren’t wedged into comedic sidekick roles. That silliness is left to the new characters: two sea lions who embrace their laziness; a beluga whale who geeks over his newfound echolocation ability; and a manic bird who’s a genius one moment and braindead the next.
The most prominent newbie, however, is paranoid octopus Hank. Pixar must have cracked whips on their animators to make him move, camouflage and act so fluently. As a character, a comic, and a technical feat, Hank is astonishing.
It’s refreshing to see Pixar letting their manic comedy loose like this, generating an energetic insanity that eventually escalates to ‘Looney Tunes on a sugar high’. But when Dory’s search reaches its end, her discovery can make the driest of eyes go misty. It’s a sweet testament to parents who find unique solutions to their children’s unique disabilities – however long that takes.
(It’s also a subtle “screw you” to Sea World.)
‘Finding Dory’ Movie Times
Pixar Sequels That Aren’t ‘Cars 2’: Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Monsters University