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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Finding Dory is the sequel to Pixar's 2003 classic Finding Nemo. This time, instead of a parent searching for a child, the story revolves around Dory looking for her family. Like most Pixar movies, there are some very emotional moments, including an early montage in which young Dory -- separated from her parents (a situation that may very well upset younger kids) -- searches the ocean for them ... until she forgets what she was looking for. There are other stressful separations between friends, too, as well as some peril and tense moments (like a predator giant squid the characters need to get away from and action-packed escape antics), as well as slapstick and near misses. But in the end, the "happily ever after" adventure is still appropriate for viewers of virtually all ages, and Dory's story is ultimately uplifting, as is the movie's treatment of her disability, which is never ignored. Finding Dory's themes of teamwork, perseverance, family, friendship, and unconditional love are relatable for even the littlest kids. (Tip: Be sure to watch through the end of the credits to see the extra scene featuring friends from the first film!)
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What's the story?
It took 13 years from when Finding Nemo first swam into theaters for FINDING DORY to make its way to the big screen, but the story takes place only one year after clownfish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) -- with a lot of help from Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a blue tang with short-term memory loss -- found his missing son, Nemo (Hayden Rolence). Everything is going well for the friends/neighbors until Dory has a flashback to her life as a little fish and remembers something about her parents for the first time. Realizing she and her parents used to live on the California coast, she asks Marlin and Nemo to help her find her family. Thanks to their pals the sea turtles, they quickly arrive at the Marine Life Institute in California, but they're separated when scientists rescue and tag Dory. She must befriend new sea creatures, like an octopus named Hank (Ed O'Neill), to help her locate her parents, while Marlin and Nemo desperately find a way into the institute to look for her.
Is it any good?
This poignant, beautifully voice-acted adventure is everything a sequel should be: emotionally satisfying, full of lovable old and new characters, and, just as Dory would want, utterly unforgettable. DeGeneres' performance is pitch perfect -- as is that of her younger counterpart (Sloane Murray) in flashbacks to Dory's youth growing up with her loving parents, Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy), who cleverly work around her memory condition by encouraging ways she can remember to get back home. DeGeneres' voice beautifully evokes Dory's loneliness, sadness, wonder, confusion, hope, and joy.
Audiences will also love new characters in Finding Dory like the chameleonic, curmudgeonly Hank, who wants Dory's tag that grants her transfer to the Cleveland Aquarium as a way of avoiding his eventual release back into the ocean. Dory also reacquaints herself with her old pal Destiny (Kaitlyn Olson), a nearsighted whale shark, and meets Destiny's neighbor, Bailey (Ty Burrell), a beluga; the whales have a fun, bantery vibe. And a pair of sea lions voiced by The Wire co-stars Idris Elba and Dominic West provides comic relief as they help Marlin and Nemo hitch a ride into the institute via a kooky loon, Becky. Although Dory's adventure is subtler than Nemo's, it tugs at the heart strings; teaches valuable lessons about disabilities, teamwork, and the unconditional love of family; and is as memorable a movie as Pixar's finest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Finding Dory is saying about family and friendship. What does Dory learn about what makes a family? Kids: Who do you consider to be part of your family?
Even if you knew things were going to end on a happy note, which sequences were sad and/or scary? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
Which characters are role models? What do they do that's brave, courageous, selfless, and caring? How do their actions demonstrate teamwork and perseverance? Why are those important character strengths?
Discuss Dory's disability and how it impacts her. Does it keep her from experiencing love, friendship, or happiness? What does her experience (and Nemo's) teach us about disabilities? How do you know what your abilities are, and what do you do to make the most of them?
What does it mean to love someone unconditionally? How do the characters in the movie make it clear that they love each other that way?
- In theaters: June 17, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: November 15, 2016
- Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill
- Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Ocean Creatures
- Character strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild thematic elements
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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