Recently reviewed by Catholic News Service
By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service
NEW YORK - Fans of the 2003 animated adventure "Finding Nemo" have reason to rejoice: The long wait for a sequel is over, and the follow-up, "Finding Dory" (Disney), once again turns vast expanses of salt water into tasty taffy. The result is a dandy treat for moviegoers of almost all ages.
The buoyant new film's entertainment value, moreover, is moored to solid morals.
Working with co-director Angus MacLane, writer-director Andrew Stanton sets the earlier picture's trio of main characters on another epic journey. This one is undertaken to reunite the absent-minded blue tang of the title (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) with her long-lost parents, Jenny (voice of Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy).
Accompanying Dory on her eventful quest are Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence), the father-and-son duo of clownfish she befriended in the first outing. In fact, this can be seen as a tale of two families since Dory's bond with widowed worrywart Marlin goes deeper than mere friendship, while the care she provides sprightly Nemo is distinctly maternal. All of that is left largely unspoken however.
Dory's hunt eventually leads to the Marine Life Institute, a fictional aquarium on the coast of California. There she gains the help of three more pals: curmudgeonly octopus Hank (voice of Ed O'Neill), Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale with defective sonar skills, and nearsighted whale shark Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson).
Through it all, Stanton conveys life lessons about family loyalty, teamwork and the proper balance between courage and caution via a script full of gentle humor and appealing personalities. But his most impressive achievement is the use to which he puts the various disabilities on display. While these challenges are sometimes milked for comedy, at a more basic level Stanton portrays them to send an implicit anti-bullying and pro-life message to youthful viewers.
Objectionable elements are virtually absent. During an underwater schoolroom scene, Dory -- mistakenly believing that one of the kids has asked her about the birds and the bees -- launches into a boilerplate explanation that only patrons of a certain age will understand. She's quickly cut off.
At a moment of danger, Hank instinctively releases a wave of black ink. Dory tries to relieve his subsequent embarrassment about this with a brief verbal reaction that the strictest might insist on identifying as a bit of potty humor.
On the other hand, the dangers lurking in the deep lead to brief incidents of jeopardy for our buddies on screen that may prove too intense for small fry.
The film contains scenes of peril, a distant reference to cliches about the facts of life and equally vague bathroom humor.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart star in a scene from the movie "Central Intelligence." Photo: CNS/Warner Brothers
Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service
NEW YORK - A high IQ is not a prerequisite for seeing "Central Intelligence" (Warner Bros.). What this dimwitted action comedy demands instead are stamina and perseverance.
Yet another entry in the long roster of buddy films, as directed and co-written by Rawson Marshall Thurber, "Central Intelligence" aims high with a pair of oversized (if physically mismatched) talents, comedian Kevin Hart and wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson.
Unfortunately, generous servings of violence, crude language and sex jokes leave a bad taste in moviegoers' mouths, with the result that this odd-couple pairing soon wears out its welcome.
The sliver of a plot revolves around a 20-year class reunion at generic Central High School. Voted "most likely to succeed," Calvin (Hart), did no such thing. He's stuck in a mundane accounting job, and his marriage to Maggie (Danielle Nicolet), the sweetheart of his youth, is on the rocks.
Unable to face his classmates, Calvin opts to avoid the party. Until, that is, he receives an unexpected call from Bob (Johnson).
Mercilessly bullied as a student for being an overweight geek -- mistreatment that forced him to drop out -- Bob has not only grown up, he's buffed up. He's now a muscle-bound Adonis and ladies' man.
"I hope he's Catholic!" one drooling admirer says. (Later, the church comes in for less benign ribbing with a joke that plays, briefly, on the clergy abuse scandal.)
In high school, Calvin took pity on Bob, and now Bob returns the favor. But the former wimp, it turns out, has more on his mind than friendship.
Bob is a lethal CIA agent on a secret mission to -- what else? -- save the world. And he needs Calvin's accounting prowess to unlock stolen encryption codes.
Before you can say, "You've got to be kidding," this distinctly undynamic duo is running for their lives while chasing an elusive enemy known as the "Black Badger."
Amid the mindless silliness, "Central Intelligence" -- scripted by Thurber in collaboration with Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen -- does impart a strong message about bullying. That might have served adolescent viewers well. But the low tone throughout, as well as the specific elements listed below, strictly preclude endorsement for youngsters.
The film contains action violence and gunplay, rear male nudity, much sexual humor and innuendo, an anti-Catholic slur and occasional profane and crude language.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.
McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.