Compared to the original Nemo and the class act that was the Toy Story trilogy, this may suffer from sporadic short-term memory loss – but still has enough heartfelt warmth to make this solid Disney/Pixar family entertainment fare.
The premise is extremely simple. Instead of forgetful blue tang fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) being lost like clownfish Nemo (Hayden Rolence) was last time out, the ‘finding’ part is related to her ‘finding herself’ after getting some intermittent recollection of her childhood – and her parents Charlie (American Pie’s Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton) – which leads to a Californian marine park.
So Nemo, and his over protective father Marlin (Albert Brooks), join the ride and – with a helping hand (albeit briefly) from chilled-out current-surfing turtles Crush (director Andrew Stanton) and son Squirt – the trio get propelled to the Pacific Coast to literally look for the proverbial small fish in a very big pond.
But there’s no doubting when they finally reach their destination that this is Dory’s movie, as they get separated – with Nemo/Marlin getting somewhat sidelined – and the Marine Life Institute turns into her playground.
Along the way she meets obnoxious seven-legged octopus Hank (Modern Family’s Ed O’Neill), clumsy whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and anxious beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell), who all contribute to her adventure – while on the periphery the father/son clownfish duo befriend sea lion Fluke (Idris Elba) and pals.
Despite far too much insistence on Dory’s forgetful flashbacks and unnecessary repetitiveness, this sequel easily coasts through on its mixture of heartwarming charm and consistent family-friendly humour – which is particularly prevalent in the final act.
It’s ultimately not as groundbreaking in terms of plot as what it could have been – after a 13-year hiatus the over reliance on Dory’s short-term memory loss does start to grind a tad – and could have done with something a bit more fleshed out. Also the secondary characters – bar O’Neill’s noteworthy octopus – aren’t as memorable as shark Bruce last time out, and some scenes (see driving sequence) are a little overly elaborate.
In short, it’s not the complete package compared to a Toy Story 3 for example.
But for most families wanting to feel that Disney magic, there’s still much to enjoy here with plenty of boxes ticked – and young Dory (Sloane Murray) is arguably the House of Mouse’s cutest character ever and she is worth the admission price alone.
Despite this playing out a league below the original, you’ll still find this the most satisfying animation of the summer.
Gavin Miller [youtube id=”NQu-153MnGQ” width=”600″ height=”350″]
VOICE CAST: ELLEN DEGENERES, ALBERT BROOKS, HAYDEN ROLENCE, SLOANE MURRAY, ED O’NEILL, IDRIS ELBA, DIANE KEATON, EUGENE LEVY, KAITLIN OLSON, TY BURRELL, DOMINIC WEST, BILL HADER, WILLEM DAFOE, BRAD GARRETT, ALLISON JANNEY, ANDREW STANTON, BENNETT DAMMANN, JOHN RATZENBERGER & SIGOURNEY WEAVER
RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 37 MINS
DIRECTORS: ANDREW STANTON & ANGUS MACLANE
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