Given that Finding Nemo was one of my favorite films growing up, the thought of a sequel was both exciting and terrifying. There is so much joy in seeing some of your favorite movie characters on screen again, but it also comes with a great risk of feeling repetitive and unnecessary. Luckily, Finding Dory nails it.
It is funny, emotional and manages to combine the characters we love with fresh and new ones. But the film’s most notable achievement is the important lesson it tells us all: that anyone, anywhere, can accomplish anything.
Both Nemo and Dory carry the same underlying premise — someone lost their family and is looking for them. In Nemo, we followed Marlin looking for his son Nemo after he got captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney. In Dory, we follow the titular blue fish as she tries to track down her family who she lost years ago. Despite these obvious similarities, Finding Dory tells a completely different kind of story. This time, the tale centers on a mentally ill character figuring out what she can accomplish in life.
Sure, Dory is a family friendly film and contains all the clever jokes and characters we have come to expect from a Pixar film. I would even say the film is one of the funniest movies the studio ever released up to now. But at it’s core lies the heartbreaking story of Dory, who forgot who and where her parents are. And while the film uses Dory’s short-term memory loss as a comedic device, it also drives most of the plot.
Dory is scared and, more importantly, disappointed in herself. And even though most of what happened in Finding Nemo succeeded because of her intuitive (and kind of reckless) decisions, Dory thinks of herself as a failure. She believes everyone thinks she is gullible and this affects her deeply — all she thinks she can do is disappoint others. As Dory says, “Just forget, that’s what you do best!”
Her realization by the end of the film that she can do just as much as any other person (or ehh… fish) is very emotional and summarizes perfectly what this movie is about. No matter who you are, or where you come from, you can do anything if you put your mind to it. And while this message might have been milked out terribly by any sort of medium, no film does it quite like Finding Dory.
Have you seen Finding Dory? What did you think of the film? Let me know in the comments below!