There is one great scene in Pixar’s latest oceanic offering: when forgetful heroine Dory finds herself lost and alone — really, totally alone — in the darkening murk of an ocean that feels as vast as it is empty. Her profound distress, her response to that distress, and the eventual result of that response convey all the heart and magic that one might expect from the sequel to 2003’s masterful Finding Nemo. But that one scene is the happy exception to a largely desultory rule: here is another followup that repeats and tweaks the original and winds up feeling like a dim, distorted echo in the process. (The repeat: an epic search to reunite a family. The tweak: this time, it’s the child searching for the parents.) The worst of it is the naked grab for emotion: directors Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane make it very clear what you are supposed to feel and when you are supposed to feel it. What they don’t do is earn it. It’s a major flaw, but if you can get past it, there’s plenty of fun stuff to look at: an antisocial octopus, a friendly whale shark, a hesitant beluga, and the hilarious terror of an aquarium tank where kids can touch and squeeze.
Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes