Kyle J. Steenblik

Finding Dory is Exceptionally Memorable

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Finding DoryFinding Dory
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Screenplay by: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy
Running time 103 minutes
Rated PG for mild thematic elements

5 stars out of 5Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a Pacific regal blue tang afflicted with short-term memory loss, has been living with her adoptive family, Marlin the clownfish (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence).  While on a field trip with Nemo’s school to watch a stingray migration, a long forgotten memory is stirred from Dory’s childhood, causing her to remember the mother Jenny (Diane Keaton) and father Charlie (Eugene Levy) she lost and had forgotten.  The only clue to Dory’s long-lost home and parents is “the jewel of Morro Bay, California”; fortunately, Marlin knows a turtle named Crush (Andrew Stanton) that can help them cross the ocean to find Dory’s lost parents.  After arriving off the coast of California, they searched through a sunken cargo ship Dory remembers, but a squid attacks them, and Nemo is nearly eaten. Marlin angrily sends Dory away, and she looks for her parents alone when she hears the voice of Sigourney Weaver guiding her to nearby Monterey Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium, where two employees suddenly scoop her up, and Marlin and Nemo are unable to reach her in time.  Dory is tagged and placed in quarantine where she meets Hank (Ed O’Neill), an octopus with seven tentacles who wishes to be placed in quarantine because the tagged fish will be sent to an aquarium in Cleveland. Dory agrees to give Hank her tag, if he helps her find her parents.  Dory and Hank’s daring escape from quarantine is foiled when dory falls into a feed bucket marked “Destiny,” and she, along with the dead feed inside, are carried and tossed into the tank of a severely near-sighted whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson).  Luckily, Destin is Dory’s long-lost childhood pipe-friend, and Destiny’s neighbor Bailey, (Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who is deficient with echolocation tell Dory her parents should be in the Ocean Life exhibit, to get there, she has to swim through the pipes.   But Dory, afraid she will not remember the way, convinces Hank to carry her there, unfortunately wind up inside the facility’s “touch pool” only feet away from the Ocean Life Exhibit. Meanwhile, outside, Marlin and Nemo, with the help of two sea lions, Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West), and a demented loon named Becky make it inside the aquarium where they can start finding Dory.

Pixar has developed a habit of turning out visually engrossing and stunning films that are emotional and charmingly hilarious, with very few exceptions.  Finding Dory is no exception to this steady stream of excellence, in fact it may be one of the most universally enjoyable films they have produced.  This film was not only highly entertaining for children and adults alike, but it was also poignant and uplifting, making this film rate high on the re-watchability scale, which is a scale familiar to most parents.  It also rates low on the shoulder-shaking sob scale, which is a benefit for anyone wearing mascara.

When I asked my two children which parts of the film they liked the most, the answers were an ever-changing string that recapped half the movie.  That information was not extremely useful in helping me identify anything specific that that stood out, but it did illustrate how strong the film was overall.  While that is informative, and a very good thing, I still wanted something more specific, so I asked about favorite characters.  My daughter has a profound fondness for Destiny the near-sighted Whale shark, and my son couldn’t get enough of the seven-legged octopus named Hank, and I found a kindred spirit in Becky the demented loon. There is something for everyone in this film, beautiful animation, moving music, downright hilarious humor, and an earnest story about family, loss, adventure, friendship, and fish.

I do not often like to use words like “wholesome” and “family-friendly” to describe films, because I see those descriptions as inadequate and meaningless.  Unfortunately, I am struggling to avoid using them in reference to Finding Dory, because they feel right.  Instead, I will say the film is meaningful, and suitable for humans of all ages, and I will feel better for having avoided two of my least favorite cliché film descriptions to describe this action-packed animated fish-filled uproariously hilarious family film.


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