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Film Review: Finding Dory
In 2016, Andrew Stanton released Finding Dory as a sequel to his 2003 film, Finding Nemo. Starring Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver, Alexander Gould, John Ratzenberger, the film has grossed $205.3 million as of June 21.
One year after the events of the first film, Dory starts recalling memories of her long-lost family. Going by her recollection of Morro Bay, California, Dory leaves to discover who she is and who her parents are while Marlin and Nemo go along for the ride. They soon come to an aquarium where Dory is certain her parents are and now, aided by a cantankerous octopus named Hank, a nearsighted whale shark named Destiny and a concussed beluga whale named Bailey, she traverses the place to find them.
Though not as good as the first film, Finding Dory is a surprisingly decent and well-made film. While the film does gloss over the journey from the reef to California, that actually does the film a service more than anything. The only aspect of the journey that’s seen is riding along Crush and escaping from the squid with a majority of the film being Dory looking for her parents and Hank helping her so he can get to Cleveland. What follows is a pretty interesting romp through the aquarium from the perspective of Dory looking for her parents and Marlin and Nemo trying to find Dory. It also has a good intersection with the plot of the previous film, showing that Marlin ran into Dory while she was on the initial quest to find her parents, which makes her question of where they are when she said she thinks short term memory loss runs in her family in the first movie a good way to transition from her quest to Marlin’s and then back to finding her family in the year after Marlin finds Nemo.
This film also presents some great new characters, one of which is Hank. He’s an octopus missing a tentacle, which the film implies was a tragic loss that caused him to be a bitter and curmudgeonly loner. Yet, he’s got a fascinating character arc where he begins as only willing to help Dory so he can get to Cleveland. However, being around Dory’s constant optimism and friendly attitude brings him around to eventually wanting to help her for real, culminating in the two driving a truck down the freeway and off a cliff. Then there’s Destiny, who keeps running into walls because she has poor eyesight, and Bailey, who starts off with the inability to use his echolocation. The two not only provide some good comedy with their bickering but wind up being a pretty good team with the latter being the former’s eyes.
There’s good humor in the film too, such as Dory thinking the voiceover of Sigourney Weaver at the Marine Life Institute is actually talking to her. One of the funniest moments in the film is probably when Hank and Dory drive the truck off the cliff into the bay, with every fish that’s in the truck falling out and showering everyone in the water and the two sea lions while “What a Wonderful World” plays over the images. This part’s also got a small fish getting eaten by a bigger fish, which is eaten by an even bigger fish only to have the other two fish escape because the last one sneezes. The clam Marlin and Nemo run into while looking for Dory is humorous as well.
However, the film isn’t without its problems, the biggest of which is how Fluke and Rudder treat Gerald. Their constant barking at Gerald to get off their rock is used mainly for humor, with it seeming that they don’t want him on it because he’s weird. However, with Gerald looking like he’s not all there with his stare and unibrow, it seems kind of harsh for the film to go that route. The film, and the one before it, has presented the idea that people with physical or mental disabilities, such as Nemo’s bad fin and Dory’s short term memory loss, shouldn’t be discounted or treated any differently. Yet, the film is using Gerald for humor. It’s possible that Fluke and Rudder just don’t like him, but given the way he looks and acts and how they act towards him, it doesn’t come off that way.