Movie Review: ‘Finding Dory’

Directed by Andrew Stanton
Voices by Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill
Running Time 1 Hr., 40 Mins., PG
My Rating: A-

By Blake Peterson
Valley Bugler Columnist
Despite my being bitter that the elementary aged children that sat in front of me during last night’s late- night showing of “Finding Dory” didn’t have to wait thirteen years for its pre- miere, I can confidently confirm that this sequel film was worth the wait. Drawing upon its “Finding Nemo” predeces- sor’s remarkable ability to find the link between heartrending dramatics and quippy comedy, it’s further proof that Pixar is incapable of doing wrong. “Finding Dory” is the best animated movie of the year.

It’s only June, sure, but I’m certain that it will be nearly impossible to find a family focused offering as intelligently written, as richly animated, or as exceptionally voiced as “Find- ing Dory”. Taking place a year after the events of “Finding Nemo” (a fact I combated with an eye roll due to my incessant waiting), the film follows Dory, a fickle blue tang saddled with short-term memory loss, as she at- tempts to look for her family. Dory be- gins to suddenly remember through inexplicable flashes of recollection. Though she’s found a familial con- nection with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence), the father-son clownfish pair of the first movie, she isn’t much interested in ignoring the hanging question mark of her past. Dory is infatuated with the idea of discovering where she came from, and no one, not even the severely anxious Marlin, can stop her.

And so begins an epic journey, one that involves both strategic maneuvering and small doses of self- discovery. Marlin and Nemo, though pivotal, do end up taking a back seat to new, scene-stealing additions to the ensemble, including Ed O’Neill (who voices Dory’s grumpy, octopus sidekick), Kaitlin Olsen (a whale shark with an endearing rela- tion to Dory’s past), and Ty Burrell (an eccentric beluga whale). Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy earnestly voice Dory’s evasive parents. In the tradition with Pixar’s most memora- ble movies, the voice casting is the secret weapon that propels every- thing, from a snappy one-liner to an emotional confrontation, to indelible heights. As was the case in “Finding Nemo,” the work of DeGeneres is so transcendent that Dory practically jumps off the screen.

So we should consider ourselves fortunate that co-writer (with Victoria Strouse) and director Andrew Stanton knows how to give DeGeneres and her supporting play- ers great material to work with. Like the movie preceding it, the title both literally involves searching for someone and also searching for one- self. Because “Finding Dory” is more sweetly sentimental than the decidedly farcical “Nemo”, the quest for self-actualization is movingly drawn but others executed with understated lushness. Children will adore the thrilling misadventures of the film (as will adults), but “Finding Dory” is even more than what its clever antics make it out to be. Its emotional nuances are what make it such a touching piece — it’s an instant classic.
It’s been long in the making, and

yet we forgive Pixar’s lack of urgency because “Finding Dory” is so incomparable. It’s a family movie with a sense of humor, an exquisite visual palette, and, most importantly, a soul. It doesn’t resort to formula as a cheap way to grab our money and hit the road, cackling at our desperation — we feel as though we’re being catered to, and, thirteen years later, that’s a luxury. Once I see the release of “The Incredibles 2,” my nostalgia for early childhood will have hit such a peak that I might as well call myself unaffected again.

A student at the University of Washington, Blake will major in Visual Communications or Journalism. petersonreviews.com

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