I don’t remember the first time I saw Finding Nemo, but I do remember the first time I got to watch it with my son. We fast-forwarded through the beginning (because hello TRAUMATIC!) and then got swept away in the adventures of Marlin and Nemo.
When I heard they were making a sequel called Finding Dory, I was thrilled. Dory was an audience favorite and creating a movie entirely around her seemed like a smart idea to me. Plus, it would give me an excuse to reintroduce my kids to Marlin and Nemo, as most of the time the only Disney characters to get air time in my house are Elsa and the Descendants.
I shared the trailer for Finding Dory with the kids and both were eager to see it, so when the time came for press previews, off we went for a night of family fun.
The premise for Finding Dory is that Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) suddenly remembers that she has a family out there who may be looking for her. So Dory, Marlin and Nemo take off on a life-changing adventure across the ocean to California’s prestigious Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium. In an effort to find her mom (voice of Diane Keaton) and dad (voice of Eugene Levy), Dory enlists the help of three of the MLI’s most intriguing residents: Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill), a cantankerous octopus; Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who is convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark.
For a sequel that feels incredibly similar to the original, the plot isn’t all a repeat. There are plenty of fresh moments with fun new characters, lots of laughs and, of course, plenty of emotion.
My favorite characters were Baby Dory and Hank, the octopus. The flashback scenes with Baby Dory were the best parts of the movie. It was great to see Dory’s backstory and follow along on how she came across Marlin in the first place. Her super cute eyes and adorable speaking voice made her completely lovable and every scene with her induced a laugh or an “awwwww”. Hank, on the other hand, is just a grumpy old guy who you can’t help but fall in love with. You just know he’s going to going to turn it around in the end and thaw his cold, jaded heart.(Spoiler alert! He does.)
There is one moment during the movie that could upset kids that have a sensitive side. You think something bad has happened but within a few minutes, discover everything is okay. (I’ll admit, I was worried for a minute.)
What the kids thought:
Mr. A, age 7 – “Finding Dory is silly and very funny. I loved little Dory’s big eyeballs that were purple. There is a bird named Becky who was trying to eat a cup and it was really funny. I think all kids older than 2 would like this movie.”
Favorite characters – Bailey (the Beluga) and Little Dory
Miss E, age 5 – “I really liked Dory’s eyeballs because they were so huge and funny. I also really like when Dory makes friends with the octopus. It was really funny and I really liked the end.”
Favorite characters – Dory and Destiny (the whale shark)
So should we see it?
Absolutely! While it’s not on par with some of Disney and Pixar’s best, it is a heart-warming film that the whole family will enjoy. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with Ellen Degeneres and a film based on the message of “when life gets tough, just keep swimming!”
Two Quick Tips:
1. Make sure to arrive on time so you can enjoy the delightful Pixar short at the beginning of the film. It was absolutely adorable! Directed by Alan Barillaro and produced by Marc Sondheimer, Piper tells the story of a hungry sandpiper hatchling who ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline. The animation and detail in the scenes was simply beautiful. I see several awards in Piper’s future.
2. Finding Nemo fans, make sure you stay until the end of the credits for a surprise visit from some old friends!
Finding Dory opens Friday, June 17 nationwide and is rated PG. It has a run time of 1 hr and 45 minutes.