Finding Dory Review!

Jondee here at Morro Bay, California,

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The short at the beginning of Finding Dory, “Piper”, was directed by Alan Barillaro. It has the shore with the fun, piper birds waddling out and in to catch clams before the waves roll in. Piper is the baby piper whose mother wants her to go out and find the clams. She is frazzled after a wave crashes down on her. Piper is cautious and follows hermit crabs learning how to bury herself in the sand as the wave rolls in. Her hermit crab friend has her open her eyes to see the clams and now she can snatch clams all over the beach. Adorbs. The pipers are my favorite birds to watch at the beach. The only problem is that this short works so well that Finding Dory falls a little short. First, I’m not a fan of the first Finding Nemo, it kinda dragged and the marine life behavior was silly. Ultimately, every aquarium I go to kids yell out, “There’s Dory!”, “There’s Nemo!” instead of a Blue Tang or Clown Fish, shouting out a cartoon character instead of actually reading a sign. This is redemption for director Andrew Stanton, who veered into live action with John Carter (2012), still one of my favorites, before returning to Pixar. The first film was helped by Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) and Crush voiced by Stanton (too brief here), that return to this film. Dory is now the focus of the film obviously and it is not a forced supporting character taking a main role.

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We get the young Dory (Sloane Murray) who has big eyes and a tail, her parents, Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton) help her with her short term memory problem teaching her songs. Dory gets caught in an undertow and goes from fish to fish trying to find her parents until she forgets them. Then, she runs into Marlin (Albert Brooks also returning) who was looking for Nemo (now voiced by Hayden Rolence). This leads to Finding Nemo and we get one year later when Dory is still in her brain coral home next to Nemo and Marlin in their stinging anemone home. She goes with them to Nemo’s school with Mr. Ray (Bob Peterson returning too). Nemo sparks a memory in Dory, she muttered Morro Bay, California remembering where she came from and this sets off the journey. Marlin knows a way for them to get across the ocean, the East Australian Current on the back of his turtle friend, Crush. Marlin still gets queasy and Crush tells him to “feed the fishes” away from his shell, funny. Dory swims through a cargo ship where they are disturbed by a giant squid. Marlin is just able to get his son free and he tells Dory to go away so she can forget because that is what she does best. Nemo reminds his father of his hurtful words throughout the film and this drives them both to help Dory find her family. Dory has the plastic six pack ring around her and follows the voice of Sigourney Weaver (she is part narrator and almost a character here) to the surface where she is caught and placed in a boat for the Marine Life Institute (which is a cartoon version of the Monterey Bay Aquarium that is promoting the film). Marlin and Nemo try to get help to get to the institute. They find two sea lions, Fluke (Idris Elba, from Zootopia to Jungle Book, third win for him!) and Rudder (Dominic West, Sab Than in John Carter), they tell the crazed sea lion, “Off! Off! Off!” Dory is brought to the Quarantine section of the institute where she is put in a tank and tagged.

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She is greeted by an octopus, Hank (Ed O’Neill from Modern Family) who becomes a fun part of this film. He wants Dory’s tag so he can go to the aquarium in Cleveland because he finds the open ocean has bad memories for him. He has lost one of his tentacles so Dory calls him a septopus. The cleverness of the animation is in all of Hank’s camouflage and configurations as a potted plant and other objects. He takes Dory to a map to try to find her parents. They make their way to the basement and Dory jumps in a bucket labeled Destiny. She is thrown into the tank of a whale shark with near-sighted problems (she keeps bumping into walls), this is Destiny (Kaitlin Olson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). She recognizes Dory who was her “pipe friend”, they spoke through the pipes running in the aquarium and next to Destiny is the beluga whale, Bailey (Ty Burrell, another Modern Family alum) who has problems using his echolocation which he later uses to such accuracy Daredevil would be impressed. They reveal that Dory’s parents were in the Open Ocean exhibit. Bailey and Destiny distract the guests while Dory has Hank roll her in a baby carriage. The adventure had me tense for the characters, maybe it was the 3D.  The sea lions have called over a loon called Becky who is pure freaky. They have to bring over the crazy sea lion to get his bucket and Marlin has to look Becky in the eye to get her to fly them over to the Quarantine area. Dory has to remember enough to find her parents, find herself, and also Nemo and Marlin.  Sea otters (which are a highlight of the Monterey Bay Aquarium) show up later for slight spoiler, a hug party!  The film touches on the captivity of sea life, but more fun, than dark.  I love the new characters in Finding Dory. Still, it doesn’t have the strong social commentary and heart rending moments as Zootopia which still is tops for me. Three Tentacles out of Five! (That’s an octopus!)

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