Category Archives: 2016 Movie Reviews

‘Finding Dory’ movie review

Finding Dory trailer (Disney, Pixar, The Ellen Show)

Fun characters make for passable sequel


I have an interesting relationships with Pixar movies as I’m sure most adults my age do, even if they aren’t as honest about it as I am. Some of them tear me apart — ahem, “Toy Story 3”, “Inside Out” and the first 15 minutes of “Up”. Others are just kinda ‘meh’ — looking at you “Brave”; or dumb — that would be you “Cars” and “Cars 2: Why is there a Sequel”.

Finding Dory movie poster (Pixar)
Finding Dory movie poster (Pixar)

But here’s the thing about “Finding Nemo”: I never really cared about it one way or the other. Sure, I loved the animation, but I just never connected emotionally to the characters or the story the way I have with others. And full disclosure, thought Dory was kind of annoying. She was actually my least favorite part of one of my least favorite Pixar movies. So a sequel that focuses on her? YAY.

Here’s the thing, in “Finding Dory“, the Pixar creative team, being the wizards they are, not only manage to make her more likable, they find a way to turn her her ailment into a sympathetic crutch…and it almost makes for a better movie. Where “Nemo” played Dory’s forgetfulness as a joke, the sequel plays on her difficulty in living with short-term memory as a disability.

Finding Dory (Pixar)
Finding Dory (Pixar)

In “Finding Dory”, Dory (Ellen Degeneres) suddenly begins to remember clues that trigger memories of her parents and how at one time, she had been search for them. So, her adventure is setting off to find them, which has Marlin and Nemo tagging along in an attempt to bring her home. Her search becomes more than a quest for her parents, but a journey of self-discovery, and all that jazz.

Oddly, the movie is a lot more fun when Dory is kicking it the supporting characters. She spends a lot of her journey with a squid named Hank (Ed O’Neil), who wants to escape to Cleveland and they have great chemistry — or at least as much as a cartoon fish and squid can have.

The film really picks up when Dory gets to a rescue, rehab and release center, where she meets Destiny, a pen-pal shark with a vision problem (Kaitlyn Olsen), and a whale in need of channeling his eco-location purpose (Ty Burrell). But my favorite are the cockney sea lions (Idris Elba and Dominic West). Can we get a spin-off about this place? I’d be down for that.

But, despite all of that, the story drags on far too long, testing the patience of some of the younger children in the audience. And it feels long, especially during a final act set piece that feels tacked on to give Marlin and Nemo a purpose. Unfortunately, you could have easily cut them completely from the movie and had a tighter film with a clear focus.

Yes. The film looks incredible. Is there any doubt there? The Pixar animation team once again has outdone themselves. This is the rare movie when shelling out a few extra bones for the 3D up-charge is well worth it.

Finding Dory (Pixar)
Finding Dory (Pixar)

The good news is, even though “Finding Dory” feels like more of the same from Pixar, it’s still a pretty satisfying flick. Again, it doesn’t hit all the emotional feels that a great Pixar film does, but the animation is amazing, the characters are fun, and the story hits some surprising chords that will mean more to the kids as they grow up.

Directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane

Written by Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse

Starring  Ellen Degeneres, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlyn Olson, and Albert Brooks

Pixar’s Finding Dory official website

Photos and video property of Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures

Summer Movie Preview — May 2016


Marvel kicks off the month with CIVIL WAR and ends it with APOCALYPSE. What are you most looking forward to seeing in May?


CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR: Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man. Starring: Chris Evans. RDJ. Chadwick Boseman.


MONEY MONSTER: Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio. Starring: George Clooney. Julia Roberts. Jack O’Connell.


ANGRY BIRDS: When an island populated by happy, flightless birds is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to three unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to. Starring: Peter Dinklage, Tituss Burgess, Jason Sudeikis.

NICE GUYS: A private eye investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles and uncovers a conspiracy. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger Dir. Tim Burton.

NEIGHBORS 2: After a sorority moves in next door, which is even more debaucherous than the fraternity before it, Mac and Kelly have to ask for help from their former enemy, Teddy. Starring: Seth Rogan, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz.


ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska.

X MEN APOCALYPSE: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. Starring: James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac, Sophie Turner. Dir. Bryan Singer.

MAY    |    JUNE  |    JULY  |    AUGUST

Marvel scores knock-out with ‘Civil War’ battle

Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther. (Marvel)

Marvel has built their comic book movie universe kingdom on the broad shoulders of Chris Evans’s Captain America and the sly charm of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man — but now they’re counting on audiences to not only buy tickets to watch these two avenging heroes beat the crap out of each other, but takes sides as well.

It’s Team Cap vs. Team Iron Man in a super hero battle of political ideals and bromance in “Captain America: Civil War”, the 13th installment in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

In the aftermath of the events of “Winter Soldier” and “Age of Ultron”, the Avengers find themselves looking like uncontrollable bullies in the eyes of the world. When the United Nations decides to enforce sanctions on the Avengers that will keep them under the control of an official governing body, the super friends are divided.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man. (Marvel, Sony)

The catalyst for events is once again Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. Framed for a recent tragedy, Cap vows to find and protect his friend while Tony says going against the accords will only tear the Avengers apart.

Enter some new heroes: Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa aka Black Panther, who wants to see the Avengers reigned in while also pursuing his own agenda; and Tom Holland brings Spider-Man into the Marvel fold for the first time. They’re awesome folks.

Let the rumble begin.

Spoiler-free Civil War movie review

Rating: 7/10

Directed by: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Brühl, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Jeremy Renner, and Paul Bettany

MPAA rating: PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem.

Running time: 2 hours 26 minutes