Finding Dory

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Pixar is on a roll.
★★★½
Movie Review #1,065

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Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Animation, Adventure, Comedy. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. Rated PG for mild thematic elements. Released June 17, 2016. Directed by Andrew Stanton. Co-director: Angus MacLane. Original story by Andrew Stanton. Screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse. Additionally screenplay material by Bob Peterson. Additional story material by Angus MacLane. Starring the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Hayden Rolence, Diane Keaton, Sloane Murray, Bob Peterson, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Sigourney Weaver, Andrew Stanton, Lucia Geddes, Bennett Dammann, Willem Dafoe, Vicki Lewis, and Jerome Ranft.

It’s rather interesting that Pixar has never released a film about everyday people like you and me, and yet we identify with their stories better than most any other movie. We can be as stoic as we want, but at the end of the day, it’s a simple truth that we, as human beings, have feelings. We know what it’s like to be an outcast. We know what it means to love, to be loved, to miss, and to be missed.

“Finding Dory” is the latest film in the studio’s canon to bring out those emotions from within us. Dory, we learn, was separated from her family long ago. She cannot remember when or how this happened; all she knows is that she loves and misses her family. Soon enough, sh pursues her burning desire to finally find them. It’s not so easy, given her short-term memory loss and her reliance on vague memories of her early childhood to figure out where her home might be. But being the determined fish that she is, neither of those have any chance of stopping her.

We needed “Finding Dory”. There’s nothing we remember Ellen DeGeneres for better than her performance as Dory in 2003’s “Finding Nemo”. Her reprise of this role makes waiting 13 years for this movie feel somewhat worthwhile. Because she is now the primary focus of the film, this sequel offers significantly more humor than “Nemo”, as well as many more heartfelt moments. We see the story this time from a different pair of eyes–a pair that offers a much deeper perspective, and which makes the characters and their situations much more relatable. Ultimately, the message about the importance of family, while similar to the message of “Nemo”, is much more strongly reinforced.

One more thing “Dory” offers that “Nemo” didn’t is a 3-D experience. Sure, seeing the movie on the big screen is enough to immerse us in the film, but the added factor of 3-D goes a long way. By 2016, or perhaps even by last year’s “The Good Dinosaur”, Pixar has perfected their execution of 3-D animation. I generally don’t appreciate the 3-D trend in Hollywood, but I’ve come to the conclusion that after being put to extremely wide usage for nearly seven years, it is here to stay. “Finding Dory” eases our worries about the 3-D trend and even welcomes us to embrace it. The way “Dory” employs it is no cash grab. It’s cinematic art.

“Finding Dory” carries a simply-woven narrative that could’ve finished in a matter of 20 minutes. The excitement throughout the film lies in how, when Dory comes closest to finding her parents, she is sent straight back to square one again. The concept feels rather repetitive, but in an otherwise perfect film, it’s a drop in the bucket.

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