Finding Dory

For me, Pixar fell from the exalted status of infallible some time ago, probably around the time they released Cars 2, which was a godawful film.  Don’t get me wrong; they are still capable of greatness (see Inside Out) but they produce duds as well, proving that the studio is run by humans after all.  Pixar is probably the victim of its own success.  They are expected to crank out two films a year now, and no studio can release two masterpieces a year over the course of time, not Pixar, not Marvel, none of them.  Pixar is simply regressing to the mean.

Around the time of the fall, I began to notice that they also made films that were neither great nor terrible.  They were simply OK.  Some of these were actually made before the Cars 2 disaster.  I never noticed them because they were outshone by the brilliance of The Incredibles, the Toy Story films and other titles.  The first Cars falls into this category as does their first feature, A Bug’s Life.

Finding Dory is solidly in the mediocre category.   It has the Pixar sentiment but it edges too far into sappy territory at times.  There are problems with the plot.  When they need to move it along, Dory’s (played by Ellen DeGeneres) faulty memory will cough up something.  Sadly the leads in the first film, Finding Nemo, Nemo, played by Hayden Rolence and his father Marlin, played Albert Brooks, are somewhat bland and not really critical to the plot.

And yet it’s almost impossible not to like Ellen DeGeneres’ portrayal of the delightfully dotty Dory.  The filmmakers make it clear that she has a disability and while they have a little fun with that they also handle it sensitively.  Dory was probably the best thing about Finding Nemo, although the surfer turtles were close and they are back for a short cameo in this one.  Ed O’Neill is good as Hank, a cranky Octopus, who helps Dory.  Kaitlin Olson is endearing as Destiny a nearsighted whale, who keeps bumping into things and Ty Burrell is Bailey, a beluga whale, having trouble with his echolocation.

The last thing that bothered me was that whenever Nemo and his father get into a jam they ask themselves, “What would Dory Do?” because they notice that she has a way of getting out of these situations.  The answer is invariably to latch onto the first harebrained and unlikely to work scheme that presents itself.  I’m not sure that’s the best message to give to children.

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