‘Finding Dory’ struggles to find its way

Courtesy Photo

Pixar/Disney’s latest underwater animated tale, “Finding Dory,” is the much-anticipated follow-up to the 2003 hit “Finding Nemo,” but audiences will leave the theater in disappointment.

The movie fails to match the wave of novelty it’s predecessor surfed as it broke ground in animation and enamoured audiences.

Instead, it recycles the same premise and story line of “Nemo” and struggles to be original. From the opening scene on, you feel like you have already seen this movie. You can easily guess what is going to happen next. It is familiar, but not in a comforting way.

The movie starts off with flashback of Dory, the memory-impaired blue tang (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), as a child. It sheds interesting light on the backstory of how she lost her parents due to her short-term memory issues, but it is so formulaic that you know what is coming next.

The storyline begins a year after “Nemo,” and through a series of flashbacks, Dory begins to remember her parents.

Predictably, Dory decides she has to find them.

With the help of her clownfish friends, Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voiced Hayden Rolence), she sets off across the ocean to find parents.

Along the way she gets more help from a cadre of sea creatures, especially an octopus named Hank (voiced by Ed O’Neill) who might be short one tentacle but more than makes up for it in cunning and his ability to change color like a chameleon.

The bulk of the film takes place at the Monterey Bay-based Marine Life Institute, which is a rehabilitation center for injured animals and the birthplace of Dory.

This allows for characters such as Hank, who are handicapped, to easily become part of the story, and it allows for laughs as the damaged sea creatures try to function properly.

However, this was one point that made me cringe a bit. A lot of the humor was derived from the plight of the handicapped, and that didn’t sit well with me.

The movie seemed to reach several natural ending points, which was a bit tiresome, before it finally came to the anticipated conclusion with an added twist for all the characters.

It is this twist that redeems the movie a bit. With it being so predictable, I was pleasantly surprised with the ending.

I appreciated how Dory swam out of the realm of sidekick into main character, and I appreciated how the title contained a deeper meaning. It wasn’t just about Dory finding her parents. It was about Dory finding herself and finally becoming a self-sufficient fish.

“Finding Dory” is rate PG. It contains some scary moments, perceived danger, mild bullying and the grieving of lost loved ones. It has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Adults and older children who are fans of “Nemo” won’t be blown away as the story meanders its way through an attempt to recreate the magic of 2003, but uninitiated viewers will enjoy it. In fact, in a theater full of children, the noise level was low as they were transported to Dory’s underwater world.

I just wish the creator’s would have ignored Dory’s mantra of “just keep swimming” and let the movie end . . . or even better, not tried to cash in on the success of “Nemo” and make this sequel.

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My name is Todd Vogts. I am an assistant professor of media. I like the color green, riding my motorcycle, and being with my family and friends. A good book is a perfect companion for me any time, and I'm a published author and journalist. Visit my website at www.toddvogts.com and follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/toddvogts.