xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
A popular topic that has been bobbing about the internet these days: Will the summer of Hollywood’s sequel and prequel box-office discontent bounce back with the arrival of “Finding Dory,” Pixar and Disney’s double-dip back flip into the same animated pool of undersea beings that propelled 2003’s wondrously endearing “Finding Nemo”?
Therefore, it is a relief to note that the follow-up has plenty of emotional hooks, some great lines and is no stinker, despite simply following what amounts to the same plot current as before except to the Pacific Coast of California instead of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. If “Finding Nemo” felt like a blissful day at the beach, then “Finding Dory” is an eventful afternoon at an aquatic park—or, in this case, the Marine Life Institute that, as the omniscient recorded voice of Sigourney Weaver re-assures any PC-oriented visitors to the facility, is dedicated not to human amusement but to “Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release.” The result might be less fulfilling this time, but “Finding Dory” is ultimately worth the voyage.
Wisely, the film takes full advantage of what was “Finding Nemo’s” greatest asset besides its lushly multi-hued underwater inhabitants and plant life: Ellen DeGeneres’ buoyant spirit and child-like glee as she vocally gave life to Dory, the forgetful yet fearless blue tang whose struggles with short-term memory loss proved to be a crucial plus whenever the going got tough as stressed-out daddy clownfish Marlin searched for headstrong young son Nemo. After all, nothing is more freeing than barely being able to summon your past, which is why the impulsive Dory is so good at acting in the moment.
It can be a dicey proposition to upgrade a comic-relief supporting player into a headliner. But much like Robin Williams, who so memorably riffed up a blue streak as the Genie in “Aladdin,” DeGeneres and her sometimes goofy, sometimes giddy persona continues to be a perfect fit for the role that provided the uplifting salt-water soul of “Finding Nemo” and pretty much does the same here as Marlin (a returning Albert Brooks) and Nemo (replacement Hayden Rolence) swim alongside her on a new journey a year after the first.