Finding Dory

Year: 2016
Production Co: Pixar
Studio: Disney
Director: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Lindsay Collins
Writer: Andrew Stanton/Victoria Strouse/Bob Peterson
Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Hayden Rolence, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Kate McKinnon,, DIane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver, John Raztenberger, Willem Dafoe, Allison Janney, Stephen Root

To the observant, Finding Dory makes it obvious Marvel and Pixar are both under the same corporate umbrella at Disney, and it might give more discerning moviegoers pause to consider that Star Wars and Indiana Jones are under the same control.

The reason for concern isn't because Finding Dory isn't a good movie. If you loved Finding Nemo (and every other hit Pixar movie, frankly), you'll love Finding Dory too. It does exactly what it promises and exactly what every other Pixar film has done – make us laugh, make us cry and make us gasp at the stunning visual artistry.

The effects, script, structure and casting have been workshopped, revised, rewritten and tested until they absolutely hum, and that's the problem. Like almost every Pixar film before it, Finding Dory feels a little too manufactured.

You can imagine a huge whiteboard in John Lasseter's office with the Holy Grail of story beats every Pixar film must include – inciting incident, late second act crisis of doubt or faith, darkest moment, kinetic third act action sequence, short, sharp jab of a joke, tear-jerking moment, etc. The story arc isn't always the same, but every new Marvel superhero smash-em-up or Pixar CGI animated family romp starring cars, fish or toys feels a little bit like it's come off a very finely tuned production line.

And of course, it all comes with two huge doses of Disney's most traditional medicines – jokes the whole family can enjoy, and the same old believe-in-yourself/home-and-family moral of the story.

Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) live peacefully on the reef after the events of the last movie, but Dory finds herself remembering snippets of the past, including the parents she thought she'd forgotten. She resolves to go and find them, and the three set off on another adventure across the ocean to do so.

Just like Terminator 2: Judgement Day was a virtual remake of The Terminator (future resistance leader sends a warrior back in time to protect present leader-to-be) but nobody noticed, Finding Dory is kind of a remake of Finding Nemo as the heroic and lovable fish cross another sea to find someone, just like last time.

They end up in a marine park on the coast of California meeting all manner of dangers, wonder and new friends like octopus Hank (Ed O'Neill) Whale Shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olsson) and Beluga Whale Bailey (Ty Burrell).

Kids (of all ages) will love it if they love the rest of Pixar's oeuvre, and that means most of us. You can't see any joins even if you squint hard enough because the visuals are as seamless as the story, but the cynical will see the methodology as clearly as if it had a '100% genuine Disney product' sticker on it and roll their eyes as it no doubt becomes another $1bn hit for the company.

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