A big week for memory loss at the movies continues with Finding Dory***, centring on Ellen de Generes’ Blue Tang from 2003’s Finding Nemo, who now gets her own spin-off sequel.
Picking up from the end of Nemo, she suddenly remembers she has a family, which means Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (now voiced by Hayden Rolence, because the original kid, Alexander Gould, is, like, 22 now and way too cool) have to accompany her all the way back across the Pacific.
Luckily, this is done fairly swiftly with those cool current-surfing turtles again, and soon enough we’re back at a marine research centre, where the fun starts.
Dory, who can’t ever remember a thing, discovers that’s where her parents had her, and she embarks on a journey to find them.
It’s all very inventive stuff, and you can only admire the perfection of both the animation and the scripting, which is tight and slick and sweet. There are bags of characters – Idris Elba as a sealion, Ed O’Neil as a seven-armed octopus called Hank who changes colour and escapes his tank, a whale shark with bad eyesight and a beluga whale who’s lost his echolocation…
It really is remarkable how swiftly and snugly all these characters are squeezed in and drawn. Even Dory’s flashbacks merge seamlessly with the current action and there’s never a dull moment.
However, it all feels so written and controlled that I found it rather suffocating (maybe that’s cos it’s underwater?), with no room for anything to feel like improvisation or spontaneity (maybe that’s cos it’s a cartoon, you dummy?). There are lessons everywhere, every character completing their arc, fulfilling their scripted destiny, slotting into the precise picture with such smooth economy that, when the emotions come, there isn’t quite room or time for them.
It’s feels miserly to quibble with what’s ostensibly a pretty flawless picture, to be honest, but I dunno, I’m getting a bit fed up of all those silly American voices and accents, everyone so peppy and quick and acting like they’re in that manic mode of kids entertainers, fearing one slight, slack moment and they’ll lose the audience’s attention and it’ll all be chaos and the party’ll be ruined. It’s an attitude that’s frankly neurotic and more than slightly patronising.