I, like many other people, were wondering why there even needed to be a sequel to “Finding Nemo” that focused on Dory. Granted, Dory was a charming supporting character, and Ellen DeGeneres was great, but Dory always seemed like a character you could quickly get bored with. Surprisingly, director Andrew Stanton not only proves that Dory is worth focusing an entire film on, but that her story deserved to be told just as much as Marlin and Nemo’s did. Stanton and co. follow a very non–linear storyline for the sequel; “Finding Dory” goes back in time to follow the blue Tang we know as Dory, then cuts off as she meets Marlin, and begins a year later where she’s now living with Marlin and Nemo and acting as Nemo’s surrogate guardian alongside Marlin.
Dory, much like Nemo, was born with just as much of a disadvantage. While “Finding Nemo” conveyed the trials, tribulations, and worries of raising a child with a physical disability, “Finding Dory” uses Dory’s short term memory loss as a metaphor for the trials, tribulations, and worries that come with raising a child with a mental illness or mental disability. Raising Dory isn’t so much a burden for her parents Jenny and Charlie, as they approach her lack of memory with as much patience and consideration as possible. They’re well meaning and lovely parents that do everything in their power to help Dory channel her disability in to an advantage all while turning it in to a fun game.
But they can only do so much, since they don’t really seem to accept that Dory’s condition is permanent and may be a part of who she is for the rest of her life. Plus, as she ages, the world is looking more and more appealing to her, so it soon becomes a race for her parents to make her handicapable before their worst fears of the ocean swallowing her up come to fruition. Sadly, Dory does get lost, and her short term memory becomes a constant pitfall in her efforts to reunite with her parents. Before long, she’s forgotten that she’s even lost, and years have passed on. Thus she meets her fate with Marlin and Nemo, which gives her a newfound perspective and the confidence that she can find her parents once again. “Finding Dory” opens up the world we saw in “Finding Nemo” by adding a new slew of fun and lovable characters.
I especially loved Hank the Septopus, Destiny a near sighted Whale Shark, and a pair of Walrus’ comically protective of their perching rock. “Finding Dory” isn’t just a callback to the original film, but the narrative literally centers on Dory trying to find her memories and her family which ultimately represents herself. DeGeneres is even better here than in the first film as Dory, as she injects a lot of complexity and true emotions in the character and her journey to find her family which she is convinced will help improve her memory in the long run. “Finding Dory” is fantastic as director Andrew Stanton and co. give Dory brand new obstacles and dimensions, and comprise a funny, exciting, and incredibly heartbreaking tale of overcoming a handicap and leaning on family when the world is at its darkest.