Finding Dory: The Forgetful Fish in an Unforgettable Movie
Finding Dory is the long-awaited follow up to 2003’s Finding Nemo – not that the flick’s target audience of under-10s would notice. In any case, it’s a perfect standalone cartoon, capturing the spirit of the first film while building a whole new watery world of its own.
Dingy but adorable Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is a wide-eyed, big-hearted blue tang fish who suffers from short-term memory loss. Really short-term! Every few seconds, she flounders trying to recall what just happened. Needless to say, that is how she got lost in the first place.
The opening sequence of the film shows how Dory, as a tiny baby fish, swam away from her mom and dad and couldn’t remember how to find her way back to them. Those fearful moments might cause anxiety in very young viewers, but not to worry: the ending is happy and Dory’s moments of fright quickly turn to fun as she makes new friends.
She eventually hooks up with Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks), tying the sequel aspect into it. Soon after, she befriends an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill), a nearsighted shark called Destiny (Kaitlin Olsen), beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell), and a pair of salty sea lions voiced by The Wire alums Idris Elba and Dominic West. The all-star voice cast is truly flawless across the (sea)board, but DeGeneres shines especially bright as sweet, kindly Dory.
As she gets closer to finding her parents – Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy) – Dory keeps getting foiled in a series of cleverly constructed calamities. A huge set piece involving a transport truck and a merry band of otters is especially delightful and fun, ending in a chase scene that’s every bit as suspenseful as a Bourne Identity film!
The best thing about the movie is its compassionate handling of characters with disabilities and how it twists those obstacles into abilities. There are many opportunities for parents to spark up meaningful conversations with their little ones about differently-abled folks and what that means in day-to-day life.
Turns out, Finding Dory is unforgettable.
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