By Bradley Griffith
“Finding Nemo” is one of the most beloved family movies of all time. Sequels are almost always worse than the original film. So, there’s no hope for “Finding Dory” to be as good as its predecessor, right? Wrong.
The movie begins with blue tang fish Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres as an adult fish) as a baby fish being taught the lessons of life by her parents. Dory has short-term memory loss and has to be raised with that in mind. Her parents teach her how to find her way home, follow the shells, and to always avoid the riptide. Despite the fact that they keep a close watch on her, Dory gets lost and separated from her parents.
As Dory grows older she continues her unsuccessful search for her parents until the point that Dory forgets about her family and her home. Dory wanders the ocean until she meets Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence). One year later, after Nemo has been found, Dory begins having flashbacks to her life with her family. She remembers bits and pieces of being a baby blue tang fish with her parents.
Convinced that she has to find her parents, Dory is determined to travel across the entire ocean on her own if she has to so that she can find her family. Of course, Marlin and Nemo won’t let her go on her own. Dory could easily get lost and forget about her parents and her new home with Marlin and Nemo.
The only clue Dory can remember to help her find her parents is “the jewel of Morro Bay, California.” The three fish set out on a journey across the ocean to Morro Bay, California with the help of some friendly sea turtles. When they arrive in Morro Bay they quickly learn that “the jewel of Morro Bay, California” is the Marine Life Institute.
Dory believes that her parents must live in one of the exhibits in the Marine Life Institute. Before she can form a plan with Marlin and Nemo, Dory is captured by workers at the Institute and taken inside to be “rescued.” Dory begins frantically searching the Institute for her parents with the help of an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill) while Marlin and Nemo search for a way in to rescue Dory.
The first thing that leaps out at you from the movie is that it can be funny to adults as well as cute to young children at the same time. This dichotomy means that it’s a movie that everyone can enjoy, regardless of age. Dory has many ups and downs and twists and turns in her search of the Marine Life Institute for her parents. These twists and turns allow Dory to face many different kinds of obstacles and seas creatures in her search and they also present endless opportunities for humor.
“Finding Dory” has many characters that weren’t in “Finding Nemo.” There’s a whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and a beluga whale who was bumped on the head and can no longer use his echo location named Bailey (Ty Burrell). But the new character who had the most impact on the movie is Hank the octopus.
Hank is cranky and yet lovable at the same time. He tries to make Dory think he doesn’t care about her but only wants to avoid being released into the ocean. Yet, every time that Dory is in trouble Hank is there to save her. Ed O’Neill is perfect for the voice of Hank. There’s something in his voice that lets you know his crotchety side is just an act. The versatility of an octopus in an aquarium also provided an excess of imaginative escapes for Hank and Dory. He may be the best character in the entire movie.
“Finding Dory” is just as funny, sweet, and heartwarming as “Finding Nemo.” It has everything you need in a family movie to make it enjoyable to both children and adults. It is by a wide margin the best family movie of the year.
Rated PG for mild thematic elements.