We all know the story of “Finding Nemo” (and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should watch it before seeing “Finding Dory”). With help from Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a blue tang fish with short-term memory loss, worried clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) finds his missing son, Nemo (Hayden Rolence).
Jump ahead a year, and things are going well for everyone, with Dory living next door to Marlin and Nemo. But when Dory has a flashback to when she was a young fish, she recalls something about her parents and early life – they used to live on the California coast.
So she asks Marlin and Nemo for help in finding her family. Marlin – who you recall, isn’t big on adventures – needs a little persuading, but the trio finally sets off across the ocean. Thanks to their pals the sea turtles, they quickly arrive at the Marine Life Institute in California, Dory’s childhood home, aka “The Jewel of Morro Bay.”
Of course, there are plenty of hurdles to cross. Dory gets separated from her friends when scientists rescue and tag her. Marlin and Nemo frantically try to find a way inside the institute, while Dory makes some new friends, including an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill), a pair of sea lions, Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West), a beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell), and
a near-sighted whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), whom she knew as a kid.
I love everything about “Finding Dory,” from the poignant story to the lovable characters. DeGeneres’ voice is pitch perfect, conveying joy, confusion, hope, sadness and wonder. Also perfect is Sloane Murray, who voices Dory as a young fish in flashbacks to her early life with parents Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton). They figured out how to work around her memory condition (which, apparently, she’s had since birth) by encouraging ways she can remember to get back home.
The new characters are super fun, as well. Destiny and Bailey have a lovely banter reminiscent of classic movie characters, and the best thing? They’ve ALL got issues. No one is perfect, whether they have physical challenges like Dory’s memory loss or Destiny’s bad eyesight, or emotional challenges like curmudgeonly Hank, who wants Dory’s tag – which grants her transfer to the Cleveland Aquarium – as a way of avoiding being released back into the ocean.
The movie might be a little intense for kids who’ve dealt with abandonment issues (Dory can’t remember the circumstances surrounding the separation from her parents), so you might want to see it first before taking little ones who’ve been in that situation.
But like “Finding Nemo,” “Finding Dory” is a beautiful movie with valuable messages about teamwork, family, disabilities, and hope in the midst of impossible situations. For me, it ranks right up there as one of Disney/Pixar’s finest films. Be sure to watch through the end of the credits to see the extra scene featuring friends from the first film.
PARENT OVERVIEW: As with other Pixar movies, “Finding Dory” includes some emotional moments, including scenes where young Dory gets separated from her parents and searches the ocean for them, until she forgets what she was looking for. Likewise, Dory and her friends get separated, and there are scenes of peril where characters are being chased or find themselves in impossible situations. But as Dory knows, there’s always a way, even if you have memory issues.
Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements
Released in Theaters: June 17, 2016 (2D, 3D, IMAX 3D)
Best for Ages: 6+
Genre: Sequel, Family, Comedy
Runtime: 103 minutes
Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Images in this review used courtesy of the studio and distributor.