Review: Finding Dory

Score: A-

Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane

Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Hayden Rolence

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Rated: PG


There are days when I think Finding Nemo might just be Pixar’s best movie. Funny, heartbreaking and filled with colorful characters and breathtaking animation, it’s a – forgive me – high-water mark for what has been the best film studio for nearly two decades. So there’s bound to be at least some drop-off for this sequel. (Only Toy Story 2 and 3 can claim equality or supremacy to the original.)

Thankfully, the animation is the best Pixar has yet produced, and the cast brings an emotional heft to their characters that is all but absent in most animated films – including some of Pixar’s lesser efforts. As the title implies, this time it’s Dory who’s caught, with Marlin and Nemo teaming up to rescue her from the Marine Life Institute in California.

Aiding in Dory’s escape are an octopus – make that a septopus – and a beluga whale, both voiced by Modern Family alumni. (Ed O’Neill makes a Hank a grump with a serious soft side, while Ty Burrell steals the show as usual with a mix of smarm and reluctance.) As with Finding Nemo, the new homes aren’t prisons per se, just a tragic separation from the people they love the most.

At times, this does feel like a corporately packaged re-tread. But by focusing so deeply on the pain beneath Dory’s happy-go-lucky exterior, the film still packs an emotional wallop. Being separated from her parents (Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton) and suffering from short-term memory loss has taken a toll on her, and her quest to find them feels totally justified from a narrative perspective. This would have been a more powerful movie had it stayed in that melancholy zone. Instead, this is a movie with a climax that features Hank the Septopus driving an 18-wheeler. Because, y’know, the kids.

Ultimately, this is not top-shelf Pixar, but it’s very close. We’ll never stop getting sequels and reboots, but if they can all be this good, we won’t have to be so worried about the future.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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