IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 97 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
One year after reuniting Nemo with his father Marlin, Dory has become a helping hand in raising Nemo. One day during a lesson with Nemo’s class, Dory recalls through a childhood flashback that she has a family. She decides to look for them but finds her short-term memory loss to be an obstacle. The only thing she remembers is that they lived at the Jewel of Morro Bay. Marlin and Nemo accompany Dory in her quest but once in California Dory is separated from the others when caught in six pack rings and taken to the Quarantine section….
One of the best things for me about Pixar is when they hit you with a really touching emotional bit that makes you well up [or worse]. When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2. Bing Bong’s exit from Inside Out. The entire first ten minutes of Up. Finding Dory damn well did that for me twice, first in the opening flashback where young Dory [who may be the cutest cartoon character in ages] realises over and over again that she is in a perpetual nightmare of forgetting what she’s doing and worrying about forgetting who her friends and family are, and second….well, if anyone mentions shells to me in the next few days I’ll probably start blubbing. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering that it doesn’t really need to exist, this sequel to Finding Nemo can be considered to be a tad lazy, being a basically a variation of it in terms of plot. However, the premise still works, we also get a nice subplot about freedom, there’s lots of great new characters including an octopus who loves being in captivity, plus a loon and three sea lions who basically fill the role of the seagulls in the first film, and having Dory centre stage doesn’t result in a repetitive series of jokes about memory loss, which is what I feared be the case. The positive encouragement [without skirting around the difficulties] this film provides for young people and their parents who have to deal with learning disorders is somewhat tarnished though by the scenes where the rather ‘more than just dim witted’ sea lion is bullied by the other two….even if these scenes are still very funny.
The largely marine park setting does help to differentiate this film and the pace is a little faster than in Finding Nemo while, and by contrast to that film’s somewhat abrupt climax, we get an extended action sequence which takes up the final act. Much of what goes on throughout is more conventionally cartoonish, and not all of the laughs work as well as they should [though pretty much every bit with Bailey, the beluga whale who is convinced his sonar skills are on the fritz even though the doctors can’t seem to find anything wrong with him, is laugh-inducing] but the tried and tested Pixar mixture of relatability, chuckles, heart, poignancy, charm, thrills and just a bit of darkness is mostly pulled off very well yet again. Visually this one is absolutely stunning, with some scenes set during dawn which are especially evocative with their beautiful use of colour and textures and very lovely to look at. This sequel is almost an equal, and just about [though it’s close] manages to beat The Secret Life Of Pets as the best of the current wave of animated movies for all-round satisfaction.