This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, June 2016
Set narratively one year after Nemo got lost and then found, his surrogate sister/mother Dory suffers a similar plot trajectory in this delightful, family-friendly, follow-up.
For those who don’t remember much of 2003, Dory is the cute blue fish with Ellen DeGeneres’ voice, who “suffers from short-term memory loss”, as her patiently caring parents have taught her to explain to each stranger she meets. Which, given she can’t retain a thought for more than six seconds, means she says it a lot.
The ridiculously simple premise is just as beguiling as its predecessor, whereby Dory (superbly embodied by DeGeneres such that the fish’s facial expressions perfectly reflect the adorable lilt of her pathologically apologetic dialogue) goes on a quest to find her own family, and meets a plethora of well-rendered, aquatic characters on the way. What’s not to love about Hank, the cynical old septopus (Ed O’Neill) and a dopey beluga whale named Bailey, voiced by Modern Family’s Ty Burrell? I’m not even tired of hearing Idris Elba’s wry English tones in yet another children’s movie (after Zootopia and The Jungle Book).
Finding Dory doesn’t deliver the hearty laughs as much as Zootopia did, and it mostly eschews the now-customary adult level of meaning written into children’s movies, in order to concentrate on wowing us with some beautifully cinematic photography and neatly clever flashbacks.
But it’s nonetheless an entertaining, often moving, story with a moral. Employing junior assistants for this particular reviewing mission, I’m grateful for the critical considerations of Miss Eight, who explained that the film’s message is “To just keep going, no matter what”, and Miss Five-and-a-quarter whose reply to “What do you think the film wanted us to know?” was the commercially astute: “It wants you to watch it heaps of times”.