It’s here. It’s real. The sequel to my childhood. Finding Dory was released this past weekend, and I jumped on the opportunity and watched it Saturday night. And long story short: I loved it. It was funny and endearing and thought-provoking and sweet and much deeper than I thought it was going to be.
That’s what I kind of love about Disney animation recently. Or animation in general. I have a blog post on this in its entirety brewing…but I feel like animation is being used as a children’s movie on its most basic level and as a commentary on social issues on its deeper levels. I mean, maybe animation movies have been doing this forever, and suddenly I’m old enough to recognize it? I don’t know. But either way, it’s awesome. So let’s break down the movie:
The Basic Premise
If you don’t know what Finding Dory‘s about, let me give you a brief, non-spoilery synopsis: Dory is living in the aftermath of Finding Nemo. I don’t think it’s much later than the first movie because Nemo is still young and going to school. But one day, Dory remembers something about her parents—something she’s never really been able to do. And immediately she knows she needs to find them. So she leaves to California, and Marlin and Nemo come with her. A big difference between Nemo and Dory is that a lot of Nemo is the journey to get to P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. And in Dory, the journey to California is like three minutes of the movie (where Crush the sea turtle makes a brief cameo). They make it to a Marine Institute, and the rest of the movie is Dory trying to find her parents there.
And this is where I shall end. Because I’m not about that spoilery life.
Finding Dory is Ridiculously Cute
Let’s just start with this: its cuteness. Because it’s dang cute. Primarily because we meet baby Dory and she’s the most adorable, big-eyed baby fish you ever did see. JUST LOOK AT HER:
So, so cute. And so, so big-eyed. Dory’s cute all the time, in the first movie and this one. When she’s young and when she’s older. But in this movie we see her cute side and her introspective, fully-aware-of-her-flaws side that we don’t see in the first.
Finding Dory Redefines “Family”
In this movie, we get to meet Dory’s parents and see their relationship, and it’s wonderful. And in both of these movies, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, are all about family. Marlin loses his wife and children, except Nemo. Marlin travels across the ocean to find Nemo. Dory becomes a part of their little family along the way. They make it home safely. And now when Dory needs to travel the ocean to find her family, Nemo and Marlin drop everything to go. And along with her parents, Dory finds some new family members along the way.
Family isn’t restricted to the people who are related to you by marriage or blood. Family is all about love and sacrifice and forgiveness and hope and growth and patience. And this movie portrays that beautifully.
Finding Dory Speaks of Deeper Issues
Like I mentioned, this movie is a fun and family-friendly film (wow, accidental alliteration)…but it also speaks of a deeper issue, one that kids probably won’t pick up on. Finding Dory attempts to handle the issue of how we treat people with handicaps—whether mental or physical—in our society. And thinking back, I guess Finding Nemo does this too with Nemo’s weak fin. But I think it’s far more heavily addressed here in the sequel.
Dory sometimes forgets things as soon as ten seconds after hearing it, and that’s definitely a handicap for her. She lost her parents, but when people tried to help her and she couldn’t remember where they were or even their names, many just left, saying, “Sorry! Can’t help ya if you don’t remember.” And then swam along on their merry way, probably not giving the situation a second thought.
Or when she had to make it through a piping system with directions from two little crabs, she told them she wouldn’t be able to make it on her own. That she’d forget. They simply responded, “Oh, you’ll be fine!” and sent her on her way.
But it’s not just Dory. There’s also Nemo, of course. And then there are some friends along the way who have handicaps of their own. Like a whale shark who can’t see farther than a feet in front of her and, consequently, runs into walls a lot and is afraid of the open ocean.
Again, I don’t want to go much further than that because I don’t want to be spoilery, but it really shines a light on some issues with how we perceive handicaps. As not legitimate. As not that bad. As something frustrating that we just can’t deal with right now. As something that surely someone else will come to help in a few minutes. And that’s not how it should be.
Basically, Finding Dory is awesome. I sincerely enjoyed myself, even as a 21-year-old adult. Especially as a 21-year-old adult. It was hilarious and wonderful new characters are introduced and the cast is amazing. The animation is great. The storyline is just as good as the first’s. Just go watch it. You’ll like it, I promise.
ALSO: Check out these awesome animation techniques that weren’t possible in Finding Nemo but were used in abundance in Finding Dory!