Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2016. Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures. Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse, additional material by Bob Peterson, Angus MacLane, from a story by Andrew Stanton. Cinematography by Jeremy Lasky. Produced by Lindsey Collins. Music by Thomas Newman. Production Design by Steve Pilcher. Film Editing by Axel Geddes. Washington Film Critics Awards 2016.
Pixar returns to one of its most adored tales for a sequel to Finding Nemo, the story of a loving clownfish (Albert Brooks) who crossed the ocean to find his missing son. On that voyage he was accompanied by a blue tang with a short-term memory problem named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), whose own origins are explored now that father and son are safely back together in their reef. Dory’s constant problem with holding on to the details means that not only does she have difficulty remembering her family, she has difficulty remembering that she forgot them, which means that restoring her will be more than complicated. Determined as she is to accomplish her task, however, Dory sets out on yet another voyage through the great Pacific to find her parents, and Marlin and Nemo come along because they are good friends who worry a great deal about her safety. It’s a sweet tale that benefits from the improvements in animation in the thirteen years since the original (you really do feel like you have spent time at the bottom of the ocean) and from the introduction of some delightful new characters, the best of them a crabby octopus with a heart of gold voiced by Ed O’Neill. DeGeneres’ portrayal of the lead character is up to the excellence of her performance in the original, but Pixar’s emphasis on sentimentality, bumped up as a result of everyone raving about the opening sequence in Up while failing to hold the studio responsible for the incongruity of the rest of the film, means that the days of the original Toy Story, when rigorously constructed stories focused on invention and humour and the deeper feelings were a delightful accident, are long behind us. This one, thankfully, avoids the gooey formlessness of Inside Out and is brimming over with action sequences that get more imaginative and daring as the film progresses to its terrific climax. Add to that some nice messages about the ability to overcome personal obstacles and a lot of (necessary) negative press for aquatic parks and you have a film well worth the price of admission, with enough delight for the kids and enough sass to please the grownups.