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The familiar blue tang with a short-term memory issue finally starts remembering things, and goes on another transoceanic adventure!

In Finding Dory, the film picks up where Finding Nemo left off, roughly, and Dory starts to remember things from her past, including her parents. This prompts her to try to remember more and make her way across the ocean to where she believes her parents are, and hopefully will be. Both Marlin and Nemo are there to help along the way as well.  This movie should really not be titled Finding Dory as she barely gets lost in the film and is almost always with another character or two.  In truth, it should be called “Finding Dory’s Parents” or Finding Dory’s Memory” as those are the primary goals of the plot.  Not to make a pun here but this film is so much deeper than Finding Nemo, in that it deals with a very serious mental issue of short-term memory loss and how it has affected Dory her entire life, as well as affecting the others around her.

Memory loss, both short-term and long-term, are serious issues that actually do plague people on a regular basis, and can dramatically affect lives in a variety of ways.  Finding Dory deals with short-term memory loss in a very interesting way, and it was great for the film itself because it gave so much more breadth to the character of Dory, whom we know so little about besides her issue and her quirkiness.  While flashbacks were not that much of a device in Finding Nemo, they became that in this movie as a way to help move the story forward.  Occasionally, Dory would have a morsel of a memory come back to her and it would help further her quest to find her parents, because she missed them.  All throughout Dory’s life she has dealt with short-term memory loss, and it has made a lot of the sea creatures that she interacts with impatient with her, give up on her, ditch her, or trick her in various ways.  These are lessons that are great for the audience, especially the younger audience, as to how to deal with anyone that may have an issue like that, and even when it comes to something like under-confidence, these are great lessons to learn from this film.  Eventually it becomes apparent that what Dory needed was encouragement, love, trust, and appreciation to help her overcome her lapses of memory loss.  In other words, the real lesson was that positive reinforcement worked better than negative, or none at all.  Just like most of the other PIXAR films, this one was layered with multiple lessons or morals to the story.  Dory was not the only character to grow in this film.

Numerous characters learned lessons in Finding Dory about things like trust, faith, confidence, perseverance, and acceptance.  The amount of lessons in the film was almost as numerous and vibrant as the amount of characters packed in as well.  There are of course Dory and other blue tangs, Marlin and Nemo as the clown fish, Mr. Ray as the stingray, and Crush and Squirt the sea turtles, but there were so many more than just the familiar faces.  There are sea lions, otters, sunfish, giant squid, oysters, a whale shark, a beluga whale, and a loon, but the most interesting character was a septopus (an octopus that lost a leg) named Hank.  Hank was voiced by Ed O’Neill (Married with Children and Modern Family) and was a character bent on being transferred from the Marine Life Institute to the Cleveland Aquarium, because he did not like the open ocean.  Hank is able to camouflage and change shape and proves to be a valuable friend to Dory in the long run.  Filling this amazing line-up of characters is an amazing voice cast, besides the returning folk from Finding Nemo.  There was Idris Elba, Dominic West, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, and as Nemo in this film was Hayden Rolence.  Although Alexander Gould was too old to play Nemo for this film he did still return and had a cameo as a voice somewhere in the film.  Of course John Ratzenberger played a character again, as this was a PIXAR film and he is their trademark voice actor.

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While the cast of characters may have been something else, the film had a much different feel to it than Finding NemoFinding Nemo had a healthy amount of comedy that was good for all ages as well as a truly heartfelt storyline.  Finding Dory did not quite get there with any of those, albeit the gags were still fun and creative but not as much fun as the original.  The story, while touching at times, did not seem to have as much of a struggle as Finding Nemo did and ultimately was not as rewarding of a payoff either.  Finding Dory was still a good film and ranks well on the PIXAR scale, but it was lacking something and maybe it’s that the story still felt a little disorganized due to the back and forth between characters and flashbacks and so on.  However, the convolution of the film may have been intentional, to make the viewer feel somewhat like Dory and not completely understanding or knowing exactly what is going on in that moment.  While it was still Andrew Stanton directing, a similar voice cast, and even Thomas Newman returned to score the film, it did not have the same feel as Finding Nemo.  Since it was a PIXAR film, do pay attention for an ocean of Easter eggs in the film as they are always in there, including some other familiar faces after the main film ends, and even another famous actor as a voice in this film that has been a voice in a previous PIXAR film that was not Finding Nemo.

To wrap things up, Finding Dory was a good film with a good message.  Great cast of characters as well as actors, good score, well animated and still a fun film.  It is a good film for all ages as kids can enjoy the characters and playfulness of it while adults can grasp the deeper meaning to the story, which is the same as most animated features.  If a heartfelt story is desired then stick with the original, otherwise this is still a fun watch.  Also, the short before the film, “Piper,” is a cute, extremely well animated and creative short film. Enjoy and remember to just keep swimming!


Directed By: Andrew Stanton and Co-Director: Angus MacLane

Written By: Andrew Stanton

Produced By:  Lindsey Collins

Starring: Ellen Degeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, and Eugene Levy

Distributed By: Disney/PIXAR

Release Date: June 17th 2016

Run time: 97 minutes

Rated: PG

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