Everyone’s beloved but yet forgetful Regal Blue Tang, Dory (wonderously voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), from Finding Nemo has her own sad story and although it took more than a decade to arrive, the wait is well worth it! Watching PIXAR’s Finding Dory makes me believe she has attention deficit disorder, and this movie offers to an older crowd a very good job of showing how we all need to have empathy and patience towards those who have conditions. To see Dory sometimes ignored by other fish in her need for answers is deplorable. Children may not necessarily understand it, but this film is a good start to impart good life lessons to young minds.
Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) are Dory’s friends and they accept her for who she is. When she needs assistance, they are always there for her. Unlike other fish of her sub-species, which I see in her parent’s behaviour, she is the only one who is very absent-minded. During her moments of recall, Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy) teach her a few techniques to sharpen her long term memory should they ever get separated.
When apart, not every sea life is open to helping. However, those who assist are like angels. They never forgot about her. When Dory was a wide-eyed tyke, a near-sighted whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) was her bestie. Although circumstances separated her from a life in a Californian marine park, just how she wound up at the Great Coral Reef on her own requires a huge leap of faith. Eventually, memories of that past life manage to surface and she feels compelled to travel to Morro Bay because she believes that’s where home is. Her parents are there.
Before she can find them, she meets other sea life who also have problems. After a quick reunion with Destiny, she meets Bailey, (Ty Burrell), a beluga whale deficient with echolocation and Hank (Ed O’Neill), an octopus apparently missing a limb — all three of them help her in her quest. Amusingly, she thinks the cephalopod is a septopus (just how Dory knows the oddest of trivia at times is a mystery). Technically, there is a species of this invertebrate with an arm tucked away to give it an appearance of a seven-limbed oceanic wonder. They should be bigger, though.
The joy in this film is in watching how Dory, despite her condition, succeeds in her quest. I was rooting for her to succeed! I wanted to see how well she can do so with minimal assistance from all her friends (old and new). The little pieces of information that flash into her conscious mind show she is able to remember. She just has short-term issues with focussing, not long-term. Interestingly, a little jolt is all that’s needed to awaken certain neurons in her brain.
This sequel does follow a familiar beat as Finding Nemo. Although the situations are a bit different, there’s more to like in this tale as it helps develop Dory’s backstory. For the plot, when she is a fish out of water, there’s plenty about her to sympathize about. The story could have floundered when it mirrored similar moments from the original film, and fortunately, the setting allowed for a new set of challenges. The subplot of about an escaped octopus in the park slinked along like nobody is making an effort to find him. He can survive out of water for short periods of time, but I often wondered how hard is the staff trying to find him?
While Hank can skillfully use subterfuge to hide from the humans, Dory can not. He has her in his grasp while assisting her in looking for her parents. She manages to hold her own against this individual. In the meantime, the two clown fish bring in a bit of humour. Alas, they serve no real function in this film other than trying to keep Dory out of trouble. Whether Hank is a hindrance or not, he’s a hilarious old gruff. Ed O’Neill must have snuck in a bit of that old Al Bundy charm from his Married with Children days into the character.
Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West) are just as fun to watch. They give their kooky-looking Gerald (vying for a spot on their tanning location) grief for no reason. The loon, Becky, is just as cracked, and the colourful camaraderie that develops is what makes this film just as charming as the original. While this movie does not surpass in narrative style (when compared to the previous film, Wall*E or Toy Story), the technical upgrade in rendering wonderous detail certainly made a huge leap — especially when considering the type of computer programs available now to create realistic textures. There is more action in this product and less frightening moments when compared to the bully sharks in Nemo. Sadly, for a film also available in 3D, the animators missed the chance to really make the ocean life float out of the screen. For the most part, I was looking into an aquarium (location of his story notwithstanding).
4 Stars out of 5