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Movie Night Preview: Finding Dory

September 5, 2016

written by Brian Shesko

Student Activities is happy to present another opportunity for you to watch a movie outside. Come to our next Outdoor Movie Night for a very special presentation of Finding Dory. Just bring a blanket or other sitting device to the fields outside Dorm 28 on Saturday, September 10 at 10:30 p.m., sit back, relax, and enjoy.

How many popular movies with a sequel-ready story wait 13 years, 18 days to make one? Answer: not many. Yet that was exactly the path Disney, and eventually Pixar, chose with Finding Dory. The list of movies with delayed sequels is long, but not many are as critically acclaimed or popularly beloved as Finding Nemo. Of the massively popular franchises, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Mad Max are a few that have gaps between a sequel greater than that between Nemo and Dory. But whether the sequels are two or twenty years apart, the challenge for the movie maker remains the same: How can you create a movie that builds on an existing story without it being, as Dory director Andrew Stanton said, “derivative or redundant”?

Finding Dory accomplishes this with ease, shifting the focus to Dory, keeping Nemo, Marlin, and other old characters close without being show stealers, and introducing new characters that contribute far more than they distract. As other reviewers have discussed, both Dory and Nemo must overcome their limitations (Nemo’s malformed fin and Dory’s short-term memory loss), but Dory’s story is far more about the effects of life with a disability than Nemo’s. This is why both the character interaction and setting of Dory is such a perfect fit for the story. In Finding Nemo, much of the action takes place in the vastness of the ocean in all its mystery and danger, concentrating as much on Marlin’s journey as anything else. By contrast, Dory spends much of the time on screen in various confines – a bucket, a coffee pot, a touch pool, and, in one of the most important scenes in the movie, a series of pipes – a bit more chaotic and rapid-fire than the action of Nemo. All of these settings mirror Dory’s mental struggles perfectly as she tries to remember her way back to her parents: her mind flashes from present to past, her physical location shifts in similarly sporadic fashion.

The beauty of the story is in the proximity of her support. The Dory we are introduced to shows personality and manner that appear to just go with the flow, seemingly carefree and moving with ease between people and peril, which in a different context could seem like pure independence (more like the turtle, Crush). But we know this is not the case: the danger around her is real, and she has great need for the support of friends and family. In one sense, everyone she encounters can be a new friend, even if they are a soon-to-be-remembered old friend. But new or old, her friends are always close by, sometimes playing catch up, sometimes speaking to her from a distance, but they are never far away, regardless of how far away she thinks they are. Finding Dory is a bit sillier than its predecessor, but in that sense it is a great accomplishment, maintaining the fun while still treating disabilities with great sympathy and respect.