I attended a press screening of Finding Dory prior to the movie’s public opening.
Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel to the blockbuster hit Finding Nemo, takes us on a journey with the friendly blue tang fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), and her adopted clown fish family Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo. This is a special journey to reunite Dory with her parents. After over a decade of being separated, Dory begins to gain some of her childhood memory and decides it’s times to make that transoceanic journey back home, hoping her parents still remember her.
Unlike in Finding Nemo where Dory’s forgetfulness is played for jokes, it’s given a level of vulnerability and seriousness in Finding Dory. That’s important because it brings up in to her story, her desire to find her parents, her tenacity to ‘just keep swimming’, and her attention to details she needs to make the reunion happen. Rest assured there are plenty of funny moments.
Personally, I think Hank (voiced by Ed O’Neill) steals the show. An octopus with only seven tentacles, a septapus as Dory tells him, has many of the best lines. We meet up with him about halfway through the movie when Dory arrives at the Marine Life Institute in Morro Bay, California. Hank has ulterior motives in befriending Dory, but he signs on to help her find her parents.
Dory is reunited with her friend Destiny, a shark with vision problems who has a number of hilarious lines. Destiny and Dory were friends when they were younger, communicating through the pipes at MLI. This friendship explains how Dory ‘speaks shark’, as we discovered in Finding Nemo. Together with Hank, Destiny helps direct Dory to her parents. Of course there are side adventures along the way for everyone, it is a Disney/Pixar film.
Overall, it’s a great family film and will be a hit with kids and adults alike. There is enough adult-level humor to keep you engaged while the kids enjoy the colorful sealife, the friendships, and the interwoven messages of keep working toward your goal, you can count on your friends to help, and a parent’s love is everlasting.
In theaters beginning June 17, 2016, Finding Dory runs about 100 minutes. The 3D effects are done well and blend into the movie seamlessly. It’s nice to have that dimension and life-like feeling that brings familiar friends back to us after we met them for the first time 13 years ago. It’s a similar story told with slight differences. Only this time, Dory’s memory disability isn’t the punchline of every joke. To be sure, her memory loss is used a both funny and poignant. But in the end, we’re very much in 2016 where differently-abled individuals are finding how to use what could be their deficit as something that gives them strength.
Check it out and enjoy it for the entertaining movie it was intended. Don’t set your expectations too high and you won’t be disappointed. Finding Dory is charming and entertaining, but it is not the blockbuster spectacular that was Finding Nemo.
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