There was a time not long ago when a Pixar movie really never needed a sequel (OK maybe Toy Story did). Each of the films where so brilliant that they stood on their own, as a masterwork of animation and film making in general. They told completed stories, that were funny, heart warming and just plain fun and we got just the right amount from the story to keep us satisfied with what we got. Than Disney took over and of course instead of allowing the masters at Pixar to take the time they needed to create original works of art, they insisted we get sequels to all our beloved favorites.
Like I mention above, it actually worked for Toy Story twice (with a third sequel on the deck), but than we got stuff like Cars 2 and Monsters University and it began cheapening the brand a bit. Actually my film going buddy Deer pointed something out to me that I had to think over, but agreed he was right. Since 2010 from Pixar we have gotten Toy Story 3, Brave, Monster’s University, Cars 2, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. Three of those are original filmss, only one of which is a stone cold masterpiece like the Pixar of old and that is Inside Out. Good Dinosaur and Brave were good films but not at the Pixar standard. The rest all sequels. Now of course this year’s entry is yet another sequel, Finding Dory.
Finding Nemo was a mega hit in 2003 and was easily one of Pixar’s absolute best films (I even placed it #1 on my top 10 of 2003). The movie was filled with brilliant characters, but of course the stand out was the blue tang fish Dory voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. So of course it was almost inevitable we would get a stand alone film about the blue tang with short term memory loss.
This film focuses on Dory’s venture to find her parents. She starts having vivid flashbacks about her past and the family she left behind, and this sends her on a mission to to find her past and her family. Of course Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) are not gonna let her go alone and tag along for the ride. Of course Dory being Dory, she separates from clown fish and those the search for Dory begins.
I must say that compared to the last two Pixar sequels we got, this is vast improvement. It is clear that some thought went into making this film and it wasn’t just something that was slapped together to make money. The characters are developed and the continuation of their story makes sense. The stunning visuals are once again here, with the aquarium of colorful fish being a site to behold…maybe the best image Pixar has ever produced.
Some new characters are introduced but for me personally none of them really stood out to me. The main new character is seven tentacled octopus named Hank, who’s mission in life is the to the promised land in Cleveland. Hank is voiced by Ed O’Neil he does a fine enough job but the character as a whole really just felt kind blah to me. I seem to be out of the norm on this one so perhaps it was just me but Hank wasn’t one of the classic Pixar characters we are so used to getting. The same can be said about Jenny and Bailey two whales being held captive at the aquarium voiced by Diane Keaton and Ty Burrell. Once again the voice actors do a good job but I never felt any love for either of those characters.
The movie really shines when it allows Dory to be Dory.
DeGeneres has such a perfect voice for the character and she once again excels at bringing what we are seeing on screen to her voice work in the film. She captures that zany, life by the second attitude of Dory flawlessly and even brings so real emotion to the character and film. If there was ever a need for a voice work Oscar, it is DeGeneres work as Dory, which is top shelf right along side Robin Williams in Aladdin.
Though I do have affection for the film and over all I really did like it as whole, I am still struggling to find a scene that truly stood out in a good way for me. There is nothing classic here, like when Wall.E danced with Eve.A in space, or Woody and Buzz flying trying to catch the moving truck or even Nemo’s adventures in the fish tank in the dentists office in the first film. The only scene I can remember is a really awful one towards the end of the movie involving a truck being driven by an unlikely source.
Finding Dory is absolutely not top level Pixar, however it does fit comfortably in the middle of the pack being more good than bad. I would stick it in between Brave and The Good Dinosaur on the Pixar ratting scale. Young kids will absolutely love it and I suspect that most adults will as well. You may not get the mind blowing under themes we got in Wall.E or Inside Out here, but we still get a damn good movie that the whole family is likely to enjoy.