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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Finding Dory

As it was the day before a holiday vacation, I showed my students a movie, and this time it was Finding Dory, which turned out to be a good choice as it was new to home video and many of them had not seen it. It is also generally captivating for those of all ages. I got to sit through it twice and it was charming, if a little derivative.

Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, was the breakout character from Finding Nemo in 2003 (gosh, that long ago?) She was given her own film, again written and directed by Andrew Stanton. Instead of Dory getting captured, she remembers that she has parents, and goes all the way across the ocean to find them.

A lot of the appeal of the film has to do with DeGeneres, who manages to voice a character with a serious problem, short-term memory loss, and make it sweet and not mocking (although I couldn't help but thinking parts of it were like Memento). She is helped by Marlin and Nemo from the first film (Marlin is again voiced by Albert Brooks, Nemo this time by Hayden Rolence) and is joined by another great supporting character, Hank, a seven-tentacled cranky octopus, voiced by Ed O'Neill. I would imagine the next film will be called Finding Hank.

Another wonderful aspect of the film is the animation, which so beautifully renders underwater sea life. I love that all the animals speak a common language, and that most are ready to help (there is a nasty squid) and that there have probably been many a marine biologist inspired by Nemo and now this film. It should be clarified, though, that a whale shark is not a whale, but a shark, and therefore a fish. I can get very technical on things like this.

In the great Pixar pantheon Finding Dory is only about middle shelf, as it doesn't break a lot of new ground story-wise, and many of the "family is very important" beats are repeated from Nemo, but even good-not-great Pixar is better than most animated films.

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