Finding Dory is the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo, picking up one year after Nemo and dad Marlin were reunited. Dory now lives next door to Marlin and Nemo and they've become a family: Marlin treats Dory as a younger sister whom he needs to look out for, and Nemo sees Dory as an older sister whom he can look up to. When a memory of her parents is triggered, Dory convinces Marlin and Nemo to travel with her to California to search for her birth family. Finding Dory is rated PG, but is it a find for your family? Here are three reasons to see it and one reason why not:
Finding Dory is one of the very few films that my entire family - my 70-year-old parents, 45-year-old husband, and 21, 15 and 5-year-old kids - all want to see. In general, 13 years is considered too much time to pass to adequately engage fans in a sequel. However, the original, Finding Nemo, is an exceptional film. It's a modern day animated classic that has grown fans through the years, a movie many parents can't wait to share with their children, a film that is still relevant. Equally beloved is talk show host Ellen Degeneres - and her character Dory is, well, adored. All of this adds up to the sequel that moviegoers of all ages are longing to see.
Finding Nemo took on a parent's greatest fear: child abduction. Finding Dory spins the theme around by focusing on a child's biggest fear: being lost from their parents. Parents equal safety, love and survival. Children have an innate awareness that they don't have the capacity to understand how to cope in the world without an adult who cares for them. Dory demonstrates this in the film, her short-term memory loss keeps her childlike and feeling that she needs to be accompanied by a guardian or something bad will happen to her.
3. Finding Dory is the rare film that embraces people with special needs. photo courtesy Walt Disney Studios
Despite Nemo being born with a small fin, he proved to be fully capable of handling more than the average fish, propelling Finding Nemo to became a touchstone for children with handicaps and life-threatening illnesses. In Finding Dory, the blue tang's short-term memory loss is treated like a special need and it depicts how lonely that can be. It's not just Dory, most of the new characters in the film are struggling with an issue: Destiny, a near-sighted whale shark; Bailey, a beluga whale whose echolocation is on the fritz; Hank, a cranky octopus who is missing a tentacle; and Becky, a loon who is perceptibly "off." But when push comes to shove, all are able to rise to the challenge and overcome their impairments. Families dealing with brain development disorders will connect with and revel in Finding Dory. And, that title. The title isn't so much about Dory searching for her parents as it is about Dory realizing who she is, what she's capable of, and the ways in which she is exceptional and someone to be admired. It's about Dory finding Dory. Personally, I loved this film and and believe most moviegoers will feel the same. Look for Finding Dory to be another Best Animated Feature Oscar nominee, if not another winner, for Disney-Pixar.
However, there is one strike against it where smaller children are concerned:
Mostly, Finding Dory zings with energy, laughter and adventure. Unfortunately, though, it lags during poignant moments. To older kids and adults, the drag isn't noticeable because we're too busy sniffing back tears. For families bringing little ones, though, get ready for some squirming at exactly the wrong time: the emotional payoff.