Review: Finding Dory

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More than a decade has passed and my generation now has more in common with the sea turtle Crush, rather than his son Squirt. However, I was more excited than the screaming kids in the cinema for Finding Dory. It was a charming but slightly more intense film than its predecessor, the 2003 release from Pixar, Finding Nemo.  This time, we follow the journey of Dory trying to find her family due to the original film setting up this intriguing question.

While we left Dory happily with her new family of Marlin and Nemo, a concern shared by the director, Andrew Stanton, was whether Dory may forget her new family. Thankfully Ellen DeGeneres returns as the wide-eyed regal blue tang fish to resolve this worry.  After Nemo triggers a long-forgotten memory, Dory now recalls losing her parents shortly before encountering Marlin in the first film and her group set off on a search. Following an appearance from Crush and Squirt, the gang predictably finds themselves in trouble, with Dory trapped in a huge aquatic theme park (based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California). By a stroke of luck, Dory’s parents happen to be at the aquarium too, but most brilliantly for me, Sigourney Weaver surreally is the calm voice of the aquarium announcements.

This second quest has another excellent cast of characters – but not to worry, the post-credit scene treats us to a glimpse of the fate of the first film’s fish “Tank Gang”.   In this film, rather than William Dafoe’s brooding Moorish Idol, Gill, we are treated to the hilarious bickering of a near-sighted whale shark named Destiny, and a grumpy hypochondriac beluga whale, known as Bailey. Last, but not least, we meet the grouchy seven-legged octopus named Hank.

Ultimately, Finding Dory is a touching film about family in a wonderfully vibrant underwater world and an endearing main character.  While the film falls short of the same emotional impact of the father-son bond of Nemo and Marlin, it is excellently peppered with references and explanations from the original. It also provides a subtle, but much needed, portrayal of disability. While Nemo showed his father that his weaker fin shouldn’t preclude him from living his life, both seven-legged escapologist Hank and Dory now revisit the same issue. Hank’s ability to humorously glide through the human world and camouflage himself isn’t just for our amusement. However, Dory’s story is even more important: while her memory loss seems to plague her with anxiety and decreased self-confidence at times, Dory highlights that her difficulties aren’t an impediment, but make her personality and thought process unique. Finding Dory is ultimately Dory finding herself self-confidence as well as her past. But, if all this hasn’t convinced you to give Finding Dory a try, baby Dory is absolutely adorable and makes anyone squee with joy, every time she’s on screen.

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