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poster_findingdoryFinding Nemo (2003) has to be one of the greatest Pixar movies ever produced, if not THE best. So it is not difficult to imagine any follow up sequel would have a lot of pressure to be even a fraction as good as its first installment. That’s pretty much what we have with Disney/Pixar’s latest Finding Dory; a sequel which albeit good does not even have close to the level of magic Finding Nemo brought to the screen.

Finding Dory revisits the title character, Marlin and his son Nemo one year after Nemo’s epic rescue. Except this time, we learn Dory, still plagued with short term memory loss, is struggling to remember something on a much larger scale, her parents and their whereabouts. With Marlin and Nemo’s help, Dory ventures back across the ocean to find her parents in a marine preserve in California. Dory gets separated but finds friends at the preserve including the escaped octopus Hank and short sighted whale shark Destiny.

The movie had its moments, especially as Dory came closer to finding her parents. But when you have Finding Dory to live up to, you’re practically doomed from the beginning. I didn’t care for how quickly this new film jumped into things without development of where characters were in their timeline. Nemo set up characters so well that if it weren’t for that film, there would be no character development in Dory.

I loved the entire marine preserve as a setting for the story. That “world” they created, voiced by Sigourney Weaver (Aliens), was superbly thought out. It was easy for me to understand where in the preserve the characters were and where they were trying to reach. Sigourney Weaver voicing the public address fact relay for the park truly gave it a mode of realism only hiring Richard Attenborough or Morgan Freeman for the same task could have achieved.

Ellen DeGeneres (Finding Nemo) returned to voice Dory but nothing new came from this performance besides consistency. Vocally, Dory responded to everything in every way we have come to expect. Albert Brooks (Defending Your Life) offered the same with his performance as Marlin. Nothing new to it but consistent to the previous production.

The vocal performance of the show came from Hank the octopus, whom at first I thought was voiced by Lewis Black. I mean why not. The character was almost Lewis Black to a pinpoint. However, the credits rolled and I was overjoyed to discover Ed O’Neill (Tv’s Modern Family) was the voice actor providing his take on the character. The fact that ol’ Al Bundy himself was the voice of the best character in the show really pleased me to no end. The animation on Hank was also impressive, and on a side note, Hank was the one character my kids came out of the cinema truly loving. So much so, my oldest stated she wanted to ask Santa for a Hank toy this Christmas.

The other aspect of the film I enjoyed was Dory remembering bits of her past as the movie went on, giving us a little more insight on Dory. Not that there was more character development, as in learning what makes her tick, but rather where her nuances were created, like her compelling mantra “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” Enjoyed those moments in the film as well.

The best analogy I can give as to how Finding Dory is good but not as great as Finding Nemo is a diamond necklace. While the necklace itself is well crafted, nice to look at makes you feel good, it’s the sparkle of the diamond pendent. Dory is the necklace but Nemo was the diamond.

Overall, the kids and I all enjoyed Finding Dory. I just didn’t think it carried the same magical feeling from Finding Nemo. Starting from that first scene in Nemo, you knew you were in for something truly special. In Dory, I struggled to find that same moment…at all.

 

 

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