And so, the summer of the sequels we didn’t really ask for continues.
“Finding Dory” is the sequel to the 2003 film “Finding Nemo” and follows the forgetful fish Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) as she searches for her long lost family. Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence and Ed O’Neill also star as Andrew Stanton directs.
No one really asked for a sequel to “Finding Nemo.” The events of that film wrapped up nicely and as much as we all adored the characters 13 years ago I never heard anyone clamoring to see more of them. However in a summer season that has already given us sequels to “Neighbors,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Now You See Me,” why not have Pixar throw its hat into the ring?
Pixar sequels are a fickle business. Some best the original (“Toy Story 2”), some are fun and solid follow-ups (“Monsters University”) and others crash and burn (“Cars 2”). “Finding Dory” falls in the middling ground in that it is colorful and entertaining, but it’s clear there wasn’t enough original content here to warrant a new film.
“Finding Dory” features everything that was great about classic Pixar but also everything that people have grown to question about Pixar. It has some great humor for both kids and adults (including one hilarious sequence in touch tank at an aquarium that plays out like a horror film) and is gorgeously animated; this may be their best-looking film to date.
The voice acting is all top-notch, too. Big names including Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy and Idris Elba (man, that guy is making bank from Disney this year following “Jungle Book” and “Zootopia”) all are perfectly cast and play off each other well, and it is fun to try and recognize the actors as they pop up.
However people have recently questioned the quality of Pixar films and their reliance on sequels (before “Inside Out,” at least), and “Dory” does offer some fuel to that fire. The whole thing doesn’t quite come off as nostalgic but it certainly never feels new. It is kind of just there and we never really get a true purpose for its existence. Don’t get me wrong, seeing Nemo and his tiny flipper again was great, I remember being enamored by the first film as a child, but unlike “Toy Story 3” or even “Monsters U,” this just feels like a rehash of the original instead of its own story.
“Finding Dory” is a solid film and great family entertainment, even if it does feel a little too familiar and derivative of the original works. It is beautifully animated and the voices actors nail it, and although the emotional side of the narrative falls short there is still plenty wonder to behold under the sea (oops, wrong Disney movie…).
Critics Rating: 7/10