In Finding Nemo, charmingly forgetful blue tang fish Dory’s mantra was “Just keep swimming.” It worked, she managed to swim her way into her own movie, Finding Dory, with all her friends from the first movie and several new characters as well.
In Finding Dory, Dory has made a cozy home near Nemo and his father Marlin. She has a job as a teaching assistant with the manta Mr. Ray and goes with the student fish. The one thing Dory remembers is she got separated from her parents, like Nemo, but never got her happy ending – finding her mom and dad.
When she begins to have flashbacks, no one is more surprised that Dory herself. When she finally remembers where she is from, she knows she’s got to go back, and just like our favorite impulsive fish, she wants to leave right this second.
Marlin, of course, wants everything to stay where he is – safe on the reef. However, he realizes that without Dory he would never have found his son, so Marlin and Nemo go with Dory to the place she remembers on the other side of the Pacific.
With the help of our favorite sea turtle Crush, the fish take the California current and get off near the place she remembers the “Jewel” of Morro Bay, California. Along the way she remembers more of her childhood, and about shells her parents placed in a path so she can find her way home.
When they arrive, Dory recognizes nothing. Her memories of a place very like her home back off Australia do not match the mossy soda bottles or the rusting VW in her murky water. When Nemo starts asking questions, she has a flood of memories, including her parents’ names – Charlie and Jenny.
Dory, not known for her discretion, keep asking and gets the attention of a hungry squid. A chase starts and results in Nemo being hurt. As Dory hovers, Marlin tells her to get lost, because it’s something she can do. A hurt and chastened Dort swims away. As she is swimming, she hears a voice she remembers from her childhood welcoming her to the Marine Life Institute. She is home.
Marlin realizes how he must have her his friend and he and Nemo see her just as she is scooped up into a boat that then leaves. Marlin is horrified and he and Nemo make plans to rescue their friend.
Dory, is swimming worriedly inside a fish tank. She was tagged on the boat, and as she struggles to master swimming in a tank and repeatedly discovering her tag, a voice seems to come from nowhere, offering to help her for a small price.
Hank is a seven legged octopus (Dory asks, “Wouldn’t that make you a septopus?”) whose goal is to not be released into the ocean, but put into a big tank in a big aquarium where he won’t have to worry about food or safety. What he needs is a tag like Dory’s. He’ll help her navigate the institute in exchange for her tag. She happily makes that bargain.
As Hank, an expert at camouflage, puts Dory in a coffee pot and together they make their way through the hallways. At one stop, Dory sees a bucket labeled “Destiny.” It sounds familiar, so she jumps into the bucket, which is full of dead fish. She is tossed into the tank of Destiny, a nearsighted whale shark. When Dory cautions the huge fish not to hit the wall, an amazing thing happens.
Destiny grew up with the tiny, forgetful, Dory.
She tells Dory her family is in the Open Ocean tank and she can use the pipes connecting all the aquariums to get there. Destiny gives her directions, but before Dory swims away, Hank appears and asks for the tag, which is given.
All this time Marlin has been trying to find a way into the institute. He befriends two seals who are sunning themselves, Fluke and Rudder. They have an idea and start making funny sounds. A very strange bird with big red eyes flies up and Marlin is told to look her directly in the eye and make bird sounds.
Becky the Loon finds a pail and scoops Marlin and Nemo up. She erratically flies them into the park. Hank and Dory keep missing the way to the pool, as do Marlin and Nemo. Dory finally makes it to the Open Ocean Tank and finds a path of shells that takes her to the home she remembered. There’s just one problem, Charlie and Jenny aren’t there.
Dory quickly discovers she was closer to them when she was in quarantine. All the blue tangs are on their way to Cleveland for an exhibit there, so she’s got to get back there. She swims back into the pipes and is reunited with Marlin and Nemo. Apologies said an accepted, they find their way back to quarantine. Dory discovered her parents aren’t in that tank. The fish in there tell her they hadn’t seen them in some time and maybe they were released into the ocean.
Dory falls in an exit pipe and finds herself back in the ocean. As she swims she finds a shell, and another. She follows the trail but in the murky water it is hard to tell if the fish close by are her mom and dad.
They are and delighted she found them. They had been waiting, building shell paths in case she did remember and come home. It’s then she remembers Nemo and Marlin are in the truck.
What follows is a beautiful blend of fish and mammal cooperation as everyone tries to stop the truck –Hank, Marlin and Nemo from the inside and on the outside Dory, Destiny and Baily the Beluga Whale, who had jumped from their pens to join Dory in the open ocean work to save Dory’s friends.
With the help of an Interstate Highway full of cuddling otters, the truck not only stops, it eventually crashes into the ocean. Dory might still be forgetful, but now she has a much bigger family to help her out.
Finding Dory is a delightful movie, but get to the theater early enough to see the animated short, Piper. Only Disney-Pixar can make a baby Sand Piper the cutest little critter in their huge menagerie. Also, stay for all the credits. Every. One. Of. Them. There is a big payoff at the end that easily be the jumping off point for the next sequel in this franchise. I’ll just say it involves plastic bags you’ve seen before.
[Image via Pixar]