In a year of sequels and prequels,it’s safe to say that Disney’s Finding Dory was a feverishly awaited movie for a lot of us. Finding Nemo, the predecessor had already left us wallowing in its cuteness and the magnanimous beauty of the open ocean. If you are smitten with the first movie that united heartbeats in children and adults alike, this movie has been on your radar for a long, long time. Keeping intact its basic theme of community, friendship and courage Disney’s Finding Dory is a completely different storyline and talks about a lot of things more succinctly than even adult mature movies!
Through a series of flashbacks and present day situations we are familiarised with Dory’s (Ellen DeGeneres) condition- she has short term memory loss. We see her as a child with big, googly eyes and an adorable “remembory loss” to an adult Pacific Regal Blue Tang living with Nemo (Haden Rolence) and his father Marlin (Albert Brooks) ( both clown fish). What follows is a journey across the ocean (again) to a marine institute where her parents may be and the hope of being reunited with family. With a lot of humour, fascinating lessons about migration and other ocean info, the plot progresses with a sleuth of witty dialogues, tear-inducing emotional moments and frightful sequences. A lot of these sequences are far fetched no doubt, depending on impeccable alignment of timing and luck, but what can you expect? This is a movie about talking fish and talented camouflaging octopus!
But the most important aspect of the movie is its treatment of the issue of disability. Dory, born with the inability to remember or retain facts is not treated with sympathy at all. There is a greater empathy and understanding of special needs and a subtle engagement with an issue that is not usually discussed in mainstream movies. And it is dealt with so beautifully, so subtly that children and adults both can have a nuanced understanding. Disability is not treated as a weakness, rather as strength that has potential to break barriers and achieve things that are considered impossible. It inspires other characters like Marlin and Nemo to ask themselves “What would Dory Do?” in order to get out of sticky situations. Destiny, (Kaitlin Olson) the near sighted whale shark and Bailey (Ty Burell) the confused Beluga Whale who does not know how to use his Echolocation and even Nemo who was born with a deformed flipper- all learn to overcome their short comings and triumph together.
This of course is in sync with Disney’s moral theme of courage, unity and friendship. Interestingly, the feature film that accompanies the movie, titled “Piper” foreshadows these ideas as it traces a scared chick living on the beach and how it overcomes its fear of water. Both the feature film and movie are united in superior display of animation skills and attention to minutest details of shading, colour and depth. Pixar indeed re establishes its indomitable position as the king of animation. Such incredible detailing makes the unknown and scary under water world a little less scary and familiar and definitely inspires an itch to experience it yourself with Scuba Diving.
Which brings me to my next point- the marine life institute. The institute probably inspired by the Monteray bay Aquarium in California is depicted as a home that cares for the aquatic creatures and gives them freedom. These creatures are not up for display only rather the institute as a whole acts to “rescue, rehabilitate and release” these wild creatures back to their home in the ocean. The fish and other creatures who do live in the institute are happy and have made a home for themselves. Well, except for those in the kids section who touch, poke and pick up starfish and oysters much to their fear and chagrin. This is a common theme in Toy Story series as well- children are usually shown as thoughtless, messy and violent mobs who have no care about other organisms. Portraying the ways in which children and adults unintentionally may be causing distress is captured authentically here. ( Do read in detail how you may be inadvertently hurting wildlife) Disney pushes the envelope this time to really drive the message of empathising with other creatures and beings who are not essentially like us.
A lot of times though, Disney sounds too didactic and over the top with its moral lessons. But the repetitiveness perhaps is crucial in these days of growing intolerance and apathy. Love for another, caring, acceptance and awareness needs to be imbibed, not just for the kids but as recent events prove- grown ups too. Her parents’ fear over her safety, her anxiety when she is lost among the kelp with no one in sight- these are terrifying and true events that plague everyone and almost lets us forget these are not humans. The cute characters, inspiring animation and chirpy mood is a wonderful package that humanises these creatures and makes us really think about what we are doing. Time and again in the backdrop we find, ruins of ships and cars on the ocean bed and Dory also gets trapped in the plastic package of six-pack beer!
This sequel to Finding Nemo really stands on its own and is one of those series where the sequel just might be as good as the first one. And apart from Dory, Hank (Ed O ‘Neill) the septopus really emerges as the show stealer. With his tough guy act but squishy emotional inside, he is lovable in his quips. The sea here is not a scary place full of predators, rather the sea and all the organisms here live in perfect harmony and maintain the balance. In an attempt to visualise the world that even today we know very little of, Disney and Pixar come together to magically intertwine grave issues with child like innocence.
Let us know what you think of the movie and how it inspired you, in the comment section.