Movie Review: “Finding Dory”

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A year after the events of “Finding Nemo”, the feral tang Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) suddenly remembers her family and decides to go on an adventure to find them while Marlin and Nemo tag along.

When it comes to animated movies nowadays, Pixar sets the bar high with its high-quality animation and its knack for fine storytelling. However, its sequels are another story. While the second and third “Toy Story” movies are considered to be one of the best sequels of all time, “Cars 2” became the first Pixar movie to have a “negative” score on Rotten Tomatoes (39% as of this writing). While “Monsters University” was critically acclaimed, it has a rather mixed reception among audiences. Thankfully, “Finding Dory” belongs to the “Toy Story” category of sequels. Like its predecessor, “Finding Dory” has a chock full of hilarious moments in addition to having its dramatic moments. There is a lot of effort put into the writing with its great character development. This film isn’t a retread of “Finding Nemo” but rather an extension of the former’s emphasis of the theme of family.

At the time of its release, “Finding Nemo” was praised for its groundbreaking animation. It’s amazing how much CGI has improved in the last thirteen years. In terms of CGI animation, Pixar is always ahead of the curve with its animation. On a side note, the opening short “Piper” has some of the best animation I’ve seen from Pixar.

Despite the fact that “Finding Nemo” focused on the relationship on the clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) was the breakout character of the movie thanks to her role as the comedic relief. This time around, the movie focuses on Dory and her quest to find her parents. Thankfully, DeGeneres manages to pull off this starring role thanks to her comedic timing. The film’s supporting cast isn’t that half-bad either with the likes of Idris Elba, Kaitlin Olson, and Albert Brooks, of course. Ed O’Neill does a spectacular job as Hank the octopus. In another movie, he would be the stereotypical cranky character. However, O’Neill manages to give his character depth in addition to injecting his classic “Al Bundy”-esque cynical humor.

It is during this paragraph we ask ourselves the following: is it better than “Finding Nemo”? No. Does the film stand on its own feet? Oh yes. I felt that “Nemo” had a lot more going with its plot. While I felt that the first movie had a better story overall, “Finding Nemo” is a worthy sequel. Although its writing isn’t on the same level of last year’s “Inside Out”, a lot of passion was still put into its writing. “Finding Dory” proves that Pixar can still make very good sequels.

If we can get an Incredibles 2, that would be great…

SCORE: 8/10

Movie Review: “The Secret Life of Pets”

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The film has a charming nature thanks to its extensive cast which consists of the likes of Louis CK, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Albert Brooks, and Jenny Slate amongst others. Each character has a charm to them but they aren’t really developed except for Max and Duke. Calling it “The Secret Life of Pets” and having the movie focus on two characters is sort of misleading but I digress. Most of the humor in this movie works thanks to the performance of its ensemble cast.

The film’s main problem is that it borrows heavily from “Toy Story”. While a lot of modern animated movies owe a huge debt to “Toy Story”, “The Secret Life of Pets” borrows many plot points of the former. For example, the protagonist was the favorite of the owner until the new guy take his place. At some point of the movie, both characters end up far from home and they have to put aside their differences in order to get back home.

Overall, “The Secret Life of Pets” is an inoffensive yet charming animated film.

SCORE: 3/5