***1/2 out of ****
Whether you see Finding Dory in effective 3D or brighter 2D, you can expect a gorgeous showcase of animation that lovingly renders its version of the Pacific Coast and its wildlife. The same can be said of Pixar’s new opening short, Piper.
Even in the loose family-movie genre, I can feel wary of sequels that aren’t called for. Unsurprisingly, Pixar gives this movie a sense of purpose with emotion and hilarity. The continued theme of the fears, which come with being a parent works its way into Dory quite cleverly as that fish (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) with great instincts challenged by short-term memory starts to get brief recollections of her childhood that lead her to believe she can find the loving parents who were lost long ago.
With the help of fellow clownfish Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and his dad Marlin (Albert Brooks) Dory travels across the Pacific and into the coastal aquarium where she was born. The rest is quite a funny journey with wondrous sights - this time concentrating on the beauty of the water's surface - and a running gag involving the aquatic center’s celebrity-endorsed voice of Sigourney Weaver.
Like Finding Nemo, the movie is so often good at being heartfelt that the interruption of comic relief gets a little tiresome at times, but you must bear in mind that these are the gripes of a childless adult who likes cartoons.
After enduring some irritating scores in family films lately, it was such a relief to hear the emotional melodies and tasteful timing of Thomas Newman, who is still one of the best composers working today.