<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane. Starring the voice talent of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson
Running time: 100 minutes
Almost 13 years after Finding Nemo, Pixar is rehashing the story they found success and fame with since apparently Hollywood has run out of fresh ideas.
Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), the cute blue fish with short-term memory loss, is part of the family now after she helped Marlin (Albert Brooks) find Nemo (Hayden Rolence). But she suddenly experiences a flashback in which she sees her parents and remembers that she got lost when she was a kid. And so begins her quest to find her parents with a little help from her friends who must bear the torch of memory for her, even though she seems to be remembering quite a bit now.
Very quickly Dory, Marlin and Nemo find their way to the Marine Life Institute in California where she used to live. And then, basically, she hops in and out of water with the help of a seven-tentacle octopus called Hank (Ed O’Neill) who wants to get to the aquarium and not be free in the sea. Several other helpful mammals and fish assist in finding Dory’s parents. Hmmm… I wonder why the title is ‘Finding Dory’? Maybe she finds herself. I’m not sure.
What I am sure of is that apart from a few chuckles here and there, Finding Dory has very little by way of genuine fun or joy. In fact, it can be downright morose at times. There’s a scene in the Marine Life Institute where the petting pond for kids to touch starfish and other little marine life turns into a house of horrors with kids’ hands thrusting through the water and frightening the fish half to death. It’s a statement on all those ‘sea world’ type places that keep animals and fish locked up for the amusement of kids and adults who inevitably learn nothing about these creatures who should be in their natural environment.
All through Finding Dory, you know she’ll find her parents and she does and then you know that the other fish want to be free too. So in a way, this is more of a story about captivity and human beings thinking we’re so great when we ‘rescue, rehabilitate and return’ animals. We may actually be doing more harm than good.
Dory’s memory loss but quick thinking in the face of challenges hasn’t been interestingly used. There’s no profound revelation here. As a character she gets irritating after a while. Thanks to some other side characters like the sea lions and the whales, the film manages to keep things interesting, but it’s like fillers that aren’t really contributing much to the plot.
The kids will enjoy bits of this film but a lot of it is dialogue that they may not understand. And for grown ups it’s just too joyless and repetitive to be fun.