Movie review: Finding Dory (2016)

The gang of Nemo, Marlin, and Dory is back. Only this time the focus is on Dory.

Dory, a blue tang, is plagued by a poor memory. She literally introduces herself to someone and then turns around and introduces herself again. But she has a glimmer of a memory, which leads to the latest adventure of our merry little band of fish.

The movie contains extensive flashbacks of Dory as a small fish with her parents, Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy). Her struggles with short-term memory loss were well-known, even when she was a guppy. Her parents gathered shells to use as a pathway to their house so Dory could find her way home.

But one time Dory can’t find her way back. Instead, she wanders the ocean, introducing herself to everyone she meets and explaining that she is looking for her family. During this search, she encounters Nemo and Marlin and they have their own adventures that resulted in finding a lost Nemo.

But now Dory is having these pesky glimpses of a past again. And she is off, dragging Nemo and Marlin with her in search of her parents. The search takes them across the ocean to California and an oceanic institute.

We learn where Dory’s ability to speak whale came from—well, technically she speaks whale shark. (She grew up in the oceanic institute and spoke through the pipes to a blind whale shark named Destiny.) We learn where Dory’s song Just keep swimming came from. (Her parents used to sing it to her.)

We also learn important life lessons. Marlin, in his impatience, is quite short with Dory, telling her that forgetting is all that she is good for. He doesn’t even realize the hurtful words he said to her out of his own fear. Nemo, his son, has to gently remind him several times. Of course, Marlin is embarrassed by his own words and seeks forgiveness from Dory. In the end, he praises one of her strengths.

When Nemo and Marlin find themselves in a bind, Nemo mentions that Dory always finds a way out. “What would Dory do?” becomes the question they ask themselves when they get in a pickle. (Dory ends up asking herself that same question now when she is in a tough spot.)

Finding Dory has several new characters: Bailey the echolocation-challenged Beluga, Destiny the blind whale shark, and Hank the octopus (er, septopus….he only has seven tentacles) who is intent on not being released into the ocean. My favorite is Hank, the ever changing, ever cranky but ever helpful septopus that encounters Dory again and again. I love how Hank blends in to his surroundings and changes color.

The movie contains one final lesson. Dory discovered that family isn’t just her parents, but Nemo, Marlin, and now Hank. Family is all of those she cares about and who care about her.

Just keep swimming…and remember, what would Dory do?