In 2003, “Finding Nemo” opened in theaters and we all laughed and cried as a little clown fish took a big adventure across the sea. But also in that movie, we met a blue regal tang named Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) with no short-term memory who stole our hearts. A year after the events of the first film, Dory begins having dreams of her childhood and piece by piece, remembers her parents!
Marlin (voiced again by Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Roylance) join Dory to help her find the Jewel of Morro Bay, the only thing she can remember about her former life. They hop on the EAC, the East Australian Current, and meet up once again with their ol’ buddy Crush the sea turtle, en route to California. Upon arrival, Dory is rescued by volunteers from the Marine Life Institute and later meets Hank, a seven-legged octopus (voiced by Ed O’Neill) who begrudgingly agrees to help her find her parents in the Ocean Exhibit. We later meet a near-sighed whale shark named Destiny, a beluga whale named Bailey who’s echolocation doesn’t work, a pair of British sea lions and a loon named Becky, all of whom are willing to help our heroes find each other and Dory’s family.
A delightful and exciting tale of adventure, friendship, and family, “Finding Dory” hits all the right beats of its predecessor and numerous more of its own. Dory’s memory lapses, while humorous at times, are handled more with respect to mental illness in a heart-breakingly poignant way. She feels she must constantly apologize for forgetting and gets more and more lost because she can’t remember who she was looking for or why she’s asking strangers for help. We also learn what happened to her right before she meets Marlin in the first film! The way they are able to weave the two stories together is perfection in storytelling. Every other character in the the film has some form of a disability as well, and while they are seen as shortcomings at first, it’s later those very same “flaws” that lead to their ultimate success.
An all-star cast join DeGeneres and Brooks, namely Kaitlin Olson (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), Diane Keaton (come on, you know who she is), Eugene Levy (“Best in Show”, “American Pie”), Idris Elba (“Pacific Rim”, “Zootopia”), Dominic West (“The Wire”, “The Affair”), and even Sigorurney Weaver as herself.
And no Disney/Pixar film would be complete without a WONDERFUL short film before the movie; this one called “Piper” about a sand piper chick who learns how to hunt for clams thanks to a friendly baby crab.
I want to see it again! Do not miss your chance to see this on a big screen. If you loved “Finding Nemo”, you will adore “Finding Dory”.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Snack Packs
Lincoln L. Hayes is an actor and filmmaker living in Vermont. He’s about to go into production on a new project, so follow him on Twitter for more updates: @LincolnLHayes