Something We Should Remember

Hank and Dory
“Something We Should Remember”
A Review of Finding Dory by Nick Olszyk

MPAA Rating, G
USCCB Rating, A-I
Reel Rating, Three Reels            

            Finding Nemo, which at one time was the highest grossing animated movie ever, marked the beginning of a seven year stretch of nearly flawless movies that made Pixar the most prestigious company in the business. It’s amazing it took them thirteen years to get here. Perhaps it is fitting, however, as the first film wrapped up so nicely. It was so good that Finding Dory’s premise is based on a single line of dialogue from the original. It begins with a nearly identical idea to the original, searching for Dory’s family instead of Marlin’s, yet takes the premise in quite a different but welcomed direction. Finding Dory a film that didn’t really need to happened, but probably a good thing that it did.
            Dory’s most recognizable quality, aside from unwavering optimism, is that she suffers from “short-term memory loss.” This characteristic was a source of humor in the original, but here its implications are taken much more seriously. As a child, Dory’s parents worried about her ability to survive outside their care, and rightly so. In classic Disney fashion, she is traumatically separated soon afterwards before meeting up with Marlin and Nemo in adulthood. A year after their adventure, Dory begins to have flashbacks to her childhood and decides use these pieces to find her parents. Thus, our heroes are off on another whirlwind adventure, this time including British seals, a near-sighted whale shark, a chatty clam, and the “voice of Sigourney Weaver.”
            Though a ton of ocean fun, Finding Nemo was permeated with a profound sense of loss. That is here too, but with an added layer of realism. Dory’s handicap is the central emotional force of the story. Like parents children with autism or physical disabilities, Dory’s mom and dad find alternative means to help her remember like songs and special objects. Perceiving that she like seashells, they create a small path back to their den, so Dory can find her way when lost. Marlin, however, is dismissive of his friend, believing her totally incapable of the task ahead. Yet time and time again, Dory proves him wrong, not just by her determination but the subconscious memories planted through these techniques.
            Dory’s new companion, once she discovers her parents may be in a Californian rehabilitation aquarium, is Hank the disillusioned octopus, voiced by Ed O’Neill. A close cousin of grumpy cat, he does not want to return to the ocean and agrees to help Dory in exchange for a trip to a permanent exhibit in Cleveland. He harbors a deep fear of the outside and all other beings, wanting to be in a place “where nobody can touch you.” Unlike Dory, Hank is extremely mobile and resourceful, able to slime quickly across the ground, camouflage into anything, and swing from pipe to pipe through the air like Tarzan. Dory sees that he is broken, just like her; his paralyzing phobia prevents him from living a healthy life and connecting with others. This journey will bring him “home” as well.
            I’ll leave it up to the viewer to discover whether Dory in fact finds her parents, but this is not really the point. In an amazing coincidence (or perhaps not), Finding Dory is in theaters at the same time as You Before Me, the infamous pro-euthanasia rag masquerading as a romance movie. Dory presents an alternative lesson. Yes, those who are disabled can present difficulties and require methods of learning and living often foreign to the rest of society, but their soul is the same. Even more so, they wear on the outside the evidence of original sin that all of us possess. They deserve not just the love and dignity shown to all people, but the “preferential option” that Christ commands.
            Finding Dory is a delightful treat: fun and adorable if a little predictable. Nearly every parent will cry at some people, but I suspect a few quite a bit more than others. If you see this at the theater, pray for them. If you are friends, hug them.

This article first appeared in Catholic World Report on June 29th, 2016.


  1. thank you. i really need a perspective and some insight before viewing a film i want to take a child to watch.

  2. thank you. i really need a perspective and some insight before viewing a film i want to take a child to watch.


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