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Finding Dory: Movie Review

Chris Carpenter


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Despite the enormous success of the Toy Story sequels, Disney and Pixar Studios have been hard pressed over the years to spin box office gold from repeat visits of it’s most lovable animated characters. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try it again.

Seeking to recapture the vast sentimental appeal of 2003’s Finding Nemo, this summer’s Finding Dory will attempt to swim in those waters. Fortunately, even Pixar’s sub-par films are better than what the competition usually serves up. 

Finding Dory is the poignantly sweet tale of Dory, an adult blue tang fish struggling with memory loss. More offbeat than it’s wildly popular predecessor, Dory struggles at times to recapture Nemo’s spirit due to its sensitivity regarding disabilities. Even so, Ellen DeGeneres’ portrayal of Dory flows with genuine warmth and likability.


Set six months after Finding Nemo, Dory is living her life like any other fish with one exception…she suffers from short-term memory loss. This disability doesn’t seem to bother her until she suddenly starts having flashbacks to her childhood. The memories are filled with warm remembrances of her parents Charlie (Eugene Levy, Best in Show) and Jenny (Diane Keaton, The Big Wedding). Eventually, Dory recalls something about “the jewel of Morro Bay, California”. Overcome by her longing to reunite with her parents, Dory sets out to find her family. Accompanied by Marlin (Albert Brooks, Concussion) and Nemo (Hayden Rolance), she's determined to swim all the way across the Pacific Ocean to find her home. Upon their arrival at the Monterey Marine Life Institute, Dory and company meet up with several characters including a clumsy, near-sighted whale shark (Kaitlin Olson, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), a pair of curmudgeonly sea lions (Idris Elba, The Jungle Book & Dominic West, 300), and a slightly grouchy octopus (Ed O’Neil, Wreck It Ralph) who becomes her tour guide. But will she find her parents?


For an animated feature, Finding Dory certainly digs deep. With the plot built around Dory’s special needs, the movie takes what many people don’t like to talk about and actually turns it into a strength. Far fewer jokes are devoted to Dory and her constant distractions. For every quip she made in Finding Nemo like, “My point and I do have one”, has now been refocused on new declarations like, “Just keep swimming.”

Already bulging at the seams with funny, memorable characters from the first movie, a few more have been added into the mix for Finding Dory. Swimming along for her waterlogged adventures are the playfully British sea lion duo Fluke and Rudder, and Hank, an overbearing, cynical octopus who is singularly focused on finding his way to Cleveland. Especially amusing is Sigourney Weaver who plays herself in a delightfully witty cameo…well, sort of.

In many ways, Finding Dory is a simple tale of someone (a fish) being lost who found their way home. People of faith will undoubtedly make comparisons to Dory being a sort of prodigal child as found in Luke 15. However, in this case she hasn’t indulged in any sort of wild living…other than a squid chase early in the film and the rollicking grand finale involving a stolen truck.

Clocking in at 103 minutes, Finding Dory feels a bit too long. While the flashback scenes to Dory’s childhood are initially effective, they grow tedious by movie’s end. Directors Andrew Stanton (WALL*E) and Angus MacLane would have been better served by worrying less about her backstory and more about the very important life lesson being taught – just keep swimming, never give up.


Positioned to be the animation hit of the summer, Finding Dory will likely be the box office bonanza Disney/Pixar hopes it will be. Audiences will leave the theater feeling good having absorbed the keystone concept that your family is very important. Finding Nemo it is not. But this sequel catches just enough of its predecessor's current to put a smile on your face.

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About The Author


Chris Carpenter is the program director for, the official website of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also serves as executive producer for myCBN Weekend, an Internet exclusive webcast show seen on In addition to his regular duties, Chris writes extensively for the website. Over the years, he has interviewed many notable entertainers, athletes, and politicians including Oscar winners Matthew McConaughy and Reese Witherspoon, evangelist Franklin Graham, author Max Lucado, Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy and former presidential hopefuls Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mike