Finding Dory, the latest film from Pixar, tells the story of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a regal blue tang (for our readers in Vermont, that’s a fish) who suffers from short-term memory loss. You may remember her from Pixar’s previous movie about fish, Finding Nemo. In that movie, she helped a clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) find his son, Nemo (voiced, in Finding Dory, by Hayden Rolence). In the sequel, it’s Marlin and Nemo who are now helping Dory to find her parents.
Dory has spent years searching for her parents. Of course, it would be easier if she didn’t suffer from short-term memory loss. It seems that every time she sets out to track her parents down, she ends up getting distracted and forgets what she was doing. However, while helping to teach a class about migration, Dory has a sudden flashback to her parents (voiced, quite charmingly, by Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton). She sets out once again, determined to find her parents. This time, Marlin and Nemo are accompanying her. As Dory continually frets, she’s can’t do it alone because she can’t remember directions.
Though her memories are fuzzy and her flighty nature leads to some conflict with Marlin (who is just as cautious and overprotective of Nemo as he was in the first film), Dory eventually finds her way to where her parents were last seen. And, in doing so, Dory discovers that she and her parents originally lived at a water park, the California Marine Life Institute.
(One of my favorite parts of the film is that apparently, Sigourney Weaver recorded several greetings and other messages that are played continuously over the Institute’s PA system. “Hello, I’m Sigourney Weaver and welcome to the Marine Life Institute.” Dory becomes convinced that Sigourney Weaver is some sort of God-like being who is leaving personal messages for her. At one point, Dory exclaims, “A friend of mine, her name’s Sigourney, once told me that all it takes is three simple steps: rescue, rehabilitation, and um… one other thing?”)
Since this is a Pixar movie, Dory meets the usual collection of oddball and outcast sealife at the Institute, all of whom help her out while overcoming their own insecurities, providing properly snarky commentary, and hopefully bringing a tear or two to the eyes of even the most jaded of viewers. Finding Dory is full of familiar voices, everyone from Idris Elba to Bill Hader to Kate McKinnon. But, for me, the most memorable of all the voices (with the exception of Ellen DeGeneres herself) was Ed O’Neill’s. O’Neill brought Hank, the bitter but ultimately good-hearted seven-legged octopus, to poignant life. I imagine that, should there be another sequel, it will be called Finding Hank.
Finding Dory continues the annual tradition of Pixar films making me cry. Finding Dory is an incredibly sweet and truly heartfelt movie but, at the same time, it’s also an extremely witty comedy. This is one of those Pixar films where the joy comes not only from looking at the amazing animation but also from listening to truly clever dialogue being delivered by some of the best voice actors around. DeGeneres does such a great job bringing Dory to life that, as the movie ended, my first instinct was to run out and buy a regal blue tang of my very own. But then I read an article on Wikipedia, which explained why I shouldn’t do that.
(Basically, blue tangs may look cute but they have big, scary spikes that can cut up your hand. As well, they don’t do well in captivity. So, if you’re planning on getting a Dory of your very own, you might be better off just rewatching this movie…)
It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry. Finding Dory is another great film from Pixar.