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'Finding Dory' a fun-gilled fishy adventure (spoiler-free review)

Pixar's latest dive into the life of the forgetful blue tang fish will encourage both kids and adults to keep on swimming.

Pixar

It's been 13 years since Pixar's "Finding Nemo" made a splash on movie screens, and in our hearts, but in the brightly coloured undersea world of the film, only a year has passed since Marlin and Dory headed out on their amazing adventure. If you can't exactly remember the details of a 13-year-old movie, fret not. Kids who saw it first time around (likely adults by now) and anyone born in the meantime will be quite at home.

"Finding Dory" manages to be a standalone adventure, with Dory the forgetful blue tang fish, played by Ellen Degeneres, taking the lead to find her parents after she realises she has a family. Accompanied by clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence), the trio journey across the ocean in search of her original home.

As with the original movie, the underwater world is at times bright, beautiful and immersive, and at others bleak and scary. Returning director Andrew Stanton manages to recapture the charm of the original film while still offering something fresh, chiefly by tackling the issues surrounding Dory's memory problem.

With Marlin and Nemo relegated to supporting roles this time around, it's up to the new characters to shine, and boy, do they. Hank the grumpy octopus, played by professional grinch Ed O'Neill, steals the show with his realistic movements and use of color-changing skills to get both him and Dory out of trouble.

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Hank is a big hit with his color-changing ways.

Pixar

The color-changing octopus may have pushed the limits of the animators with his realistic squishy tentacles, but it's his growing friendship with the forgetful but cheerily optimistic Dory that really makes the movie. Hank's more of a grumpy loner, but he slowly opens up thanks to the power of connection.

Other newcomers include Bailey, a beluga whale, and Dory's childhood friend Destiny, a whale shark. There's also a pair of helpful sea lions, Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West), who shine despite brief appearances taking on a similar role as the seagulls (remember them?) from the first movie.

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Whale shark Destiny is Dory's childhood buddy.

Pixar

The movie is awash with visual gags, from Hank's camouflaging ways to the good ol' hitting-your-head-on-the-wall gag. While Dory's short-term memory loss starts out as a joke, watching her trying to resolve her issues with forgetfulness getting in the way becomes ever more painful as the movie takes a more serious turn. It's impossible not to empathise with her.

But if there's one thing that truly lights up the movie, even in its darkest moments, it's the blue tang fish's positive attitude and her hope that things will get better. Never give up, just keep swimming.

"Finding Dory" opens in theatres in Australia on Thursday 16 June, in the US on Friday 17 June and on 29 July in the UK. As with all Pixar films, there's an animated short that screens before the movie, so be sure to get there early so you don't miss the delightful "Piper".

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