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It has been thirteen years since its predecessor, Finding Nemo, splashed into our theatres and captured audiences’ hearts everywhere. The instant success of the first film about an overprotective clown fish’s quest to find his abducted son, led to Disney pressing director Andrew Stanton (and co-director Angus MacLane) for a sequel, but Stanton was initially hesitant. He wanted to make sure he had a thoughtful, intelligent, humorous and heart-warming story as captivating as the original and after preparing the 10 year anniversary 3D re-release of Finding Nemo, Stanton began to have ideas. Recruiting Victoria Strouse to help write the screenplay, the result is the eagerly anticipated Finding Dory. An endearing, funny, adorable film which will make you laugh and make you cry.
The film is told from the perspective of short term memory loss sufferer Dory, a pacific regal blue tang (voiced by comedian and talk show icon Ellen DeGeneres) as we follow her on an ocean adventure to locate her parents. The sequel begins one year after the events of Finding Nemo with Nemo, Marlin and Dory, all living happily on the Great Barrier Reef. That is until Dory begins having flashbacks of her parents and becomes determined to reunite with them. On her mission to locate her parents, Dory is caught in plastic six pack rings and is promptly captured by staff at a Californian Marine Life Institute, based on the real life Monterey Bay Aquarium. Marlin and Nemo, who now consider Dory as family, attempt to rescue her from the Institute.
A spectacularly animated and entertaining film for children and adults, Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory also offers a poignant look at how ocean pollution damages and affects marine life. Dr. Sylvia Earle, oceanographer and marine activist campaigned “we need to protect the oceans and take care of them as if our lives depended on it, because they do”. Raising awareness about the ongoing problem of ocean pollution is imperative and I am glad that the film has touched upon this. In addition, Finding Dory portrays a thought provoking stance on the issue of marine life captivity. Gabriela Cowperthwaite brought attention on this controversial issue in her award winning 2013 documentary Blackfish which concerned the confinement of orca whales by SeaWorld and the associated dangers, trauma, extreme stress and significant decrease to the orca whales’ quality of life. Blackfish brought a lot of debate and changed people’s perceptions about marine life captivity and Finding Dory makes an earnest attempt at reigniting consciousness about this issue.
At the core of Finding Dory is its message of reducing the stigma associated with those with disabilities. What originated as a running joke of Dory having short term memory loss and annoying those around her, we love her regardless because of her determination and her resilience. Having some friends with disabilities, I have seen firsthand how parents can be overprotective and worried about their children’s ability to cope in the real world, but yet their children see the world with such love, joy and curiosity. For a family film, Finding Dory tackles the subject of disability with compassion and a lot of heart. Although Dory has to overcome various outside obstacles, undeniably her biggest obstacle is inside her own mind. In some scenes she is shown to struggle and is afraid to do things on her own because she is anxious she won’t remember what she is doing and where to go. With the communal help of her peers, Dory overcomes her struggle and is often the most steadfast and determined of her peers to achieve her goals. Children and adults can take away from the film that you can truly do anything if you believe in yourself.
The scene stealer of the film is a new character Hank (voiced by Married with Children and Modern Family’s Ed O’Neill), a cynical and grumpy septapus who wishes to live in an aquarium in Cleveland as he believes he is not cut out to living in the ocean due to a traumatising past. When Dory is captured inside the Marine Life institute, she quickly befriends Hank who uses his camouflage ability and various containers of water to hold Dory and help her navigate her way through the various aquariums to locate her parents. Hank is reportedly the most challenging character Pixar has animated to date.
Finding Dory also stars Modern Family’s Ty Burrell, veteran actors Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton, Idris Elba and Dominic West, Kaitlin Olson and Sigourney Weaver as herself. Returning voices include Willem Dafoe as Gill, Albert Brooks as Marlin and Alexander Gould, who previously voiced Nemo in the first film, makes a surprise cameo.
Australian pop singer Sia provides a beautiful rendition of Nat King Cole’s classic ballad “Unforgettable”, to the film soundtrack and just like the song, our heroine Dory truly is unforgettable. Finding Dory is an underwater treasure that will delight audiences to “just keep swimming” along with Dory and her friends.
Student View’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Reviewed By: Yuri Snell