Andrew Stanton’s animated aquatic sequel Finding Dory (B-) succeeds as a message movie about inclusion of characters with disabilities – showcasing a fish with short-term memory loss overcoming the odds – but stumbles in terms of its only mildly engaging protagonist, its flagging adherence to its own intrinsic logic and the lack of originality of its storyline. The film strives to deepen the Finding Nemo saga with Godfather II style flashbacks to back story while Dory searches for her parents but ends up closer to Evan Almighty territory with a minor character inexplicably nudged to the forefront. Despite noted objections, there are still imaginative touches involving the intricacies of a marine life refuge and an amputee octopus with clever camouflaging effects. We know we’re working in a talking animal universe, but there’s a jump-the-shark moment that might be termed invertebrate on the interstate or the mollusk motorcade and simply gets sloppy. Nemo and his dad are rendered rather ineffectual sidekicks while Ellen DeGeneres does what she can to squeeze out the waterworks of the film’s few poignant moments. The first film felt effortlessly entertaining, and this one more of a chore.
Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo (A-) is a computer-generated treasure trove of aquatic animation featuring a winning school of voice talent including Albert Brooks as a cantankerous clownfish and Ellen DeGeneres as the forgetful regal tang named Dory. The story centers around losing your community and finding it again and sweeps the viewers along an amazing journey through the world’s oceans. Like the best Pixar films, the humor is double-edged so adults and kids can both enjoy immensely. The faces on fishes obey the rules of film school, so you can truly follow their dramatic and comedic interactions. It’s an epic adventure to cherish.