Remember Dory and her role in Finding Nemo? It’s alright if you don’t, because she doesn’t either.
The chatterbox blue tang fish with short-term memory loss from the 2003 Pixar animated hit has her own back story to peddle in the sequel. The story opens a year after the events of the first film, in which Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) takes Dory’s help in rescuing his son Nemo from becoming a house pet. The contradiction between celebrating the right of the fish to live in their natural habitat and projecting adult needs and anxieties onto them continues in the new movie. Every marine creature in Finding Dory is brilliantly animated but behaves like a needy piscine version of a human.
The opening is a typical Pixar cocktail of cuteness and sentimentality. Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is separated from her loving parents, but since she forgets things so quickly, she spends much of her adult life in a haze. She suddenly remembers her origins and sets off to find her home, which is situated on the edge of a marine park. Her wayfarers include the whale shark Destiny (voiced by Kaitlin Olson), a pair of sea lions with British accents (Idris Elba and Dominic West) and the shape-shifting octopus Hank with seven tentacles (voiced by Ed O’Neill). Hank’s antics are entertaining enough to qualify for a sequel in his name, possibly titled Finding the Eighth.
The gorgeous animation is more life-like than in the first movie, with both the Pacific Ocean and the marine life exhibits beautifully realised. The message of freeing captive creatures from being poked and prodded by humans is barely convincing, given how anthropomorphised each of them is. Dory’s quest to reunite with her parents is an excuse to roll out a series of thrilling action sequences, which include a sprint through a series of jet streams for Marlin and Nemo and a climax that starts in a truck and ends up at the bottom of the ocean, where it all began.
The exquisiteness of the marine backdrops get drowned by the uninteresting yammering of the characters, especially Dory, whose refrain that she does not remember anything but her name is charming only at the first instance. The detailed reproduction of underwater life is there before the eyes, but it constantly competes with the assault on the ears from talkative and neurotic sea creatures that have clearly spent too much time in human company. The movie is preceded by the delectable short Piper, in which a sandpiper hatchling overcomes her fear of water without so much as uttering a word.