October 31, 2016

Digital Review: FINDING DORY

Starring the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Andrew Stanton, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver (as herself). Directed by Andrew Stanton. (2016, 97 min).

While I still wish Pixar would stop mining their past for sequel after sequel, Finding Dory is really entertaining. It’s not quite as fresh and original as Finding Nemo, but has enough amusing new characters and story elements to justify its existence, something you can’t say about Cars 2 or Monsters University.

This time the focus is on Dory (Ellen Degeneres), who suddenly remembers she has parents, but her short-term memory loss makes trying to find them a Herculean task. Mostly at the behest of his son, Nemo, Marlin (Albert Brooks) reluctantly helps. Of course, though, they become separated.

Little by little, pieces of Dory’s childhood come flooding back and she finds her way back to the Marine Life Institute, a massive aquarium where she grew up. Finding her parents is easier said than done, especially after she’s caught, tagged and put in quarantine. There she meets Hank (Ed O’Neill), a grouchy octopus and the film’s best new character, who agrees to help Dory find her parents in exchange for her tag (tagged animals get shipped to Cleveland and Hank doesn’t want to return to the dangers of the ocean). She also gets help from childhood friend Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a near-sighted whale shark, and Baily (Ty Burrell), an insecure beluga. Meanwhile, Marlin & Nemo end up at the Institute as well, who face some theme park perils of their own trying to locate their friend.

Dory Decaf.
While the plot is sort-of similar, Finding Dory doesn’t simply recycle it. In addition to Hank, the film is filled with a lot of charming and funny new characters whose distinct personalities reflect their real life ocean counterparts. Having the story mostly take place at the aquarium (as opposed to the open ocean once again) provides a neat springboard for different - albeit goofier - obstacles for Dory & Marlin (and their new friends) to overcome. It also allows for one of the funnier running gags, which involves Sigourney Weaver, playing herself.

Finding Dory isn’t quite as clever or emotionally involving as the original, but is still amusing film in its own right, with new characters just as endearing as the returning ones. It’s definitely worth owning and, as usual for Pixar, loaded with entertaining and informative bonus features. And, of course, make sure to stick around through the end credits.

“Piper” (One of Pixar’s cutest shorts in recent memory; originally played theatrically with Finding Dory).
“Marine Life Interviews” (Amusing send-up of old interview reels in which various characters from the film discuss Dory herself).
7 Deleted Scenes;
2 Digital Exclusive Deleted Scenes: “Tank Gang” is an entire deleted subplot featuring the aquarium fish from Finding Nemo; “Hidden Seacrets of Finding Dory” reveals the usual plethora of Pixar Easter Eggs.
Audio Commentary by director Andrew Stanton, co-director Angus MacLane & producer Lindsey Collins.
Trailers in other languages
“The Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar” (how the Hank character was created);
“What Were We Talking About?”;
“Animation & Acting” & “Creature Features” (the first covers the voice work; in the second, voice actors share facts about the real-life creatures they voiced);
“Deep in the Kelp” (a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium);
“Skating & Sketching with Jason Deamer” (Deamer is the character art director and a not-so-great skateboarder);
“Dory’s Theme” (with composer Thomas Newman);
“Rough Day on the Reef” (sort of a CG blooper reel).


No comments: