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Finding Dory

Ellen DeGeneres drives the sequel to the 2003 animated hit, Finding Nemo.

Recap

Finding Dory picks up one year after the events of Finding Nemo. Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has become part of Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo’s (Hayden Rolence) family. Even though the nature of the relationship isn’t really expounded on, it’s clear she’s now living and thriving within the reef community. One day, while on a field trip with Nemo and his classmates, Dory has a flashback. The flashback reveals a memory of her parents, whom she had forgotten. Dory immediately becomes obsessed with finding her parents and Nemo and Marlin come along with her because they want to make sure she’s okay.

After getting a quick ride from Crush and the sea turtles and following Dory’s fragmented memories, they end up in San Francisco Bay. Soon after they arrive, they’re attacked by a large creature and Nemo suffers a minor injury. This causes Marlin to lash out at Dory, hurting her feelings and causing her to wander off on her own. While she’s by herself, Dory is plucked out of the ocean and tagged by people who work for the Marine Life Institute. When she’s brought inside, she meets a squid named Hank (Ed O’Neill) who wants to take Dory’s tag so he can be sent to an aquarium in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Nemo and Marlin try to find their way inside the Institute and find Dory.

Dory recalls that she was actually born in the aquarium and, with Hank’s help starts to make her way towards the exhibit where she believes her parents are. During their journey Dory runs into her old friend, Destiny the whale shark (Kaitlin Olson). You know, the reason Dory knows how to “speak whale” when we meet her in the previous movie. Destiny is near sighted and lives next door to Bailey (Ty Burrell) the Beluga Whale. The trio help Dory to find her old home. Meanwhile, Nemo and Marlin have their own wacky adventure trying to get inside the Institute with the help of two sea lions, Fluke and Rudder (Idris Elba and Dominic West), and their “friends” Gerald and Becky the Loon.

Eventually, everyone convenes inside the Institute only to find that Dory’s parents aren’t there anymore. Thinking they’re dead, Dory goes into shock and ends up getting swept back into the bay while her friends are put into a truck to be shipped off to an aquarium. Of course, her parents aren’t actually dead and Dory ends up finding them, still searching for her, in the bay. With her spirits renewed, she gathers the remaining animals to stop her friends from being transferred to Cleveland. What ensues is one of the most unbelievable things I’ve seen in a movie this year: Hank and Dory stealing the truck and driving it into the ocean. If you haven’t seen the movie I’m sure that seems impossible, and it should be, but it happens. So, everyone ends up happy and Dory has her new family of Marlin and Nemo as well as her parents.

What did I think?

My first, and maybe most important, thought about this movie is that Gerald is one of the most instantly likable/pitiable characters that I have seen in recent memory. He was also the thing that really drove home the point that this movie is dealing really heavily with disabilities. Aside from Dory, who’s disability is well documented at the start of the movie, there are so many characters at the institute that have something wrong with them. Whether it’s a physical defect like Destiny’s sight or a mental issue like Hank’s anxiety and Gerald’s general “derp”-iness. Without being heavy handed or preachy, Finding Dory manages to do a great job of highlighting the difficulties of living with different types of disabilities as well as living with a person with a disability.

Outside of that message, the movie is really enjoyable and funny. It starts off slow as it tries to reintroduce the viewer to the world of Finding Nemo. This is necessary because it’s been 13 years since the last movie. While necessary, this part isn’t the most entertaining portion of the movie. I think a lot of people will forgive the slow start because the movie starts off showing us Baby Dory, who is just cute incarnate. I think the movie really picks up when they get to the Marine Institute. Part of that is because of the written jokes, and part of it is the new  characters. Hank is a great new character for the movie. They did a great job animating him and he’s a great foil for Dory. I think their early conversation where, Dory forgets what’s happening several times in the middle of the conversations is an amazingly written piece of comedy that DeGeneres and O’Neill pull of expertly.

This movie was so much better than I thought it would be. Given that it had been so long since the first film, I was afraid that this was just going to be a forced and lazy resurrection of an IP for the sake of drumming up some quick cash or notoriety. This movie wasn’t as good as the original, but it was far from feeling lazy. It’s going to give a new generation of kids a favorite aquatic animal to root for.

Finding Dory (2016)

Finding Dory (2016)
8.54

Story / Plot

9/10

    Characters

    10/10

      Visuals

      9/10

        Music / Audio

        6/10

          Entertainment

          9/10

            Pros

            • Introduces some great new characters
            • Movie looks great
            • charming and funny
            • thoughtfully handles living with a disability in a way that works for kids

            Cons

            • Movie starts off slow
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