Bombay Showcase

Finding Dory: An unforgettable fish called Dory

In Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do , Pluto, the narrator and the family dog, makes an observation that distinguishes his ilk from his human masters. “Even animals let their offspring go on their own after they grow up, but not humans.” ‘Even’, because animals are known to be fiercely protective of their offspring. But unlike humans, they are able to let go of their children when they reach a stage where they can look out for themselves.

This logic goes for a toss in Finding Nemo , that path-breaking Pixar movie from 2003 or, for that matter, any anthropomorphic movie where animals are more human than humans themselves. We are immersed in their world, literally, in the fish tank or the depths of the ocean. And it’s the people outside who appear to be cardboard figures in contrast to characters that are funny, kind, intelligent and most importantly, alive.

When a movie comes 13 years after a massively successful first part, you know it’s not going to be one of those tiring, expensive and completely unnecessary sequels that we are subjected to at least once a month. In many ways, Finding Dory is the same movie as Finding Nemo . Lost parents, an address that may or may not lead to them, characters embarking on an odyssey, outsmarting humans in their artificially-created territory and, overall, a journey of self-discovery.

But it is, as a character in the film says, unique in its own sort of a way. This is a movie about Dory, the good-hearted, free-spirited blue tang who in many ways was the soul of Finding Nemo . Famously voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, she is a fascinating character with a seen-before but effective quirk: short-term memory loss. While it is a serious disability, it gives her a unique advantage over others: she lives in the moment and responds to tough situations in ways few others can. In Finding Nemo , we saw her as a lone wanderer, who would casually throw life-altering lessons like “Keep Swimming”; there is something similar in Finding Dory ; what her fellow fish, when faced with problems, call “What would Dory Do?”.

Finding Dory takes us back to her childhood, when we see her with loving parents. They caution her about her disability, lest she forgets her home. The inevitable happens and we cut to the happy present where Dory lives with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and attends Mr. Ray’s classes in the Great Barrier Reef. One day, something sparks in her the urge to find her parents. This is tricky territory that the film deals with throughout. She forgets every 10 seconds or so. But as we’d seen in Nemo , sometimes deeply felt emotions can bring back memories associated with them. And so can images and objects.

Andre Stanton, director of Nemo and Wall E , and writer of the Toy Story movies, plunders the wonders and mysteries of marine life to make even the most implausible situations work. For instance, Bailey, the beluga whale (Ty Burrell) who uses his echolocation abilities to find out where Dory is. And most remarkably, Hank the octopus (Ed O'Neill), who becomes the sidekick in Dory's adventure. Taking a cue from many a real-life news report about the octopus' ability to stealthily escape from aquariums in ingenuous ways, Hank is a memorable and hilarious addition to the movie’s world of adorable sea creatures.

The dentist’s clinic in Nemo was a more unusual and intriguing setting from where the fish need to be rescued. Here, it gets bigger but not dumber. Stanton lets his characters ride through the recreational Marine Research Institute like an amusement park, getting in and out of its various sections even as he tucks in some subtle social commentary about human treatment of fish.

One can see the sequel contrivances in Finding Dory : the convenient rescues and the overall sameness of the story. A big problem could have been how Dory dodges her memory loss to remember things about her parents who she hasn’t seen since her childhood. But here’s when Stanton’s real movie-making skills come to play. Whether it is in the dark drains of the institute or the empty eeriness deep in the ocean, the water is also shown to be as lonely as the outer space in Gravity . “A wanderer in search of home,” says a character. It may be entirely created in a computer, but it’s poetry.

Pixar has raised its standards to such levels that it’s hard to match the greatness of its best films, which include Finding Nemo . But even when they are not producing masterpieces, their movies are possibly the most universally accessible wholehearted family entertainer that is guaranteed to give us a good time. Finding Dory fills us to the brim till the end. In a joyous climactic escape sequence an in-transit van, carrying fish tanks, crashes into the ocean in slo-mo as Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ plays out. We leave the theatres humming the same line in our heads.

Director Andre Stanton plunders the wonders and mysteries of marine life
Finding Dory

Director: Andrew Stanton

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Diane Keaton, Sloane Murray

Runtime: 97 mins

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 7, 2021 1:52:11 PM |

Next Story