For the past thirteen years Dory (voiced by the wonderful Ellen DeGeneres) has been the world favorite forgetful fish. Between speaking whale, befriending sharks and forgetting the whole thing, she stole the show in Finding Nemo. And let’s face it, Marlin wouldn’t have gotten far without her. It makes perfect sense for the magic makers at Pixar to tell her story.
In Finding Dory, we see flashbacks and fragments of Dory’s childhood (and Baby Dory so stinkin’ cute!). Dory starts to remember bits about herself, including her parents. With Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks), she sets off across the ocean to find them in California. They are led to an aquarium, The Marine Life Institute, and find their way inside. Dory gets some help from a runaway octopus named Hank (voiced by Ed O’Neill) who has some great camouflage tricks while Marlin and Nemo meet Becky… I love Becky too much to spoil. Dory also meets old friends, finds her old home, faces heartbreaking revelations and shows off her amazing strengths. By the end everyone will be asking, “What would Dory do?”
One of my favorite scenes was when Dory and Hank are in the Touch Pool. Those are those shallow, kid height aquariums full of starfish and sea sponges that kids put their grubby hands in to touch the fish. They looked cute and harmless when I let my kid check it out at the aquarium. In Finding Dory, it’s a bottom dweller’s nightmare. My kid jumped a mile on my lap when the first hand dove into the water. He gripped my arm during this scene and I just felt bad for all the creatures trying to hide. Maybe next time we’ll skip the touch pool.
What I think Finding Nemo does best is remind us that Dory is not just our favorite forgetful fish but an amazing, resilient, resourceful and daring leading fish. Her important memories are not forgotten, just buried deep inside her and are awakened one by one. Many flashbacks show that Dory’s parents taught her the best they could with her memory loss issue and parents, especially with challenging children, should take note to their resilience as well. Never count anyone out, it’s amazing what even the most challenged beings can do.
I suspect Finding Dory will be the front-runner for best animated feature, as Pixar films usually are. Visually, it is superb taking us from familiar oceans to the inner workings of the aquarium. And Hank’s camouflage antics are a huge hit. The story springboards off of Finding Nemo, but with it’s zanier antics and quick pace builds it’s own unique tone. However, like Nemo, it still has it’s heart in the right place with the parent-child dynamic flipped around as Dory searches for her parents. It will make you cry just a bit and laugh a whole lot. I think I laughed the most at the use of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World during some perfect slow motion.
“My friend, Sigourney, once said: rescue, rehabilitate, release!”