A fledgling marine protagonist is cast out into the wide world to discover the dangers and possibilities of the ocean, in a dazzlingly beautiful and creative offering from Pixar.
Alas, I refer not to the studio’s new feature film, Finding Dory, but to the mesmerizing six-minute short that precedes it, “Piper,” about a baby sandpiper’s first forays outside its coastal nest. The marvelous filmlet provides incontrovertible proof that Pixar is still capable of wonderful new feats of visual and narrative imagination.
Finding Dory by contrast, proves that the studio is capable of making a quality sequel—which is good news, I suppose, given that this seems like pretty much all it intends to do for the foreseeable future, with Cars 3, Toy Story 4, and The Incredibles 2 all headed down the pike over the next three years. The stunning originality that once defined Pixar’s cinematic buffet has apparently been reduced to an animated amuse bouche.
That said, Finding Dory presents a thoroughly enjoyable variation on a theme. The movie takes place one year after the events of Finding Nemo, in which Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a regal blue tang with short-term memory issues, helped overprotective clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) find and recover his titular missing son. This time out, it’s Dory’s turn for a transpacific quest, with Marlin and Nemo (voiced this time out by Hayden Rolence) along for the ride as her sidekicks.