Dory and Ellen DeGeneres are a perfect match. One had to fight a memory disability while the other had to conquer societal bigotry that still exists to this day.
Left abandoned by my two grandchildren and Saudi foreign exchange student, I was forced to bite the bullet and go alone to see Finding Dory. Though it doesn’t quite dance in the same cinematic atmosphere as Finding Nemo (2003), it is a fully enjoyable film on its own merits.
The principal reason is that Ellen DeGeneres lends her charm to Dory, an absent-minded blue tank fish in search of her lost parents. With the assistance of Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rollance), she ends up in a California aquatic center where all hell breaks loose.
Trapped in the functional equivalent of Sea World, Dory enlists the help of an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill), Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a near-sighted whale shark and Bailey (Ty Burrell), a beluga with a head injury. Together they form a team attempting to determine whether Dory’s parents are alive or dead.
The joy encompassed by this film centers on the disabilities suffered by Dory and many of her friends. Director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo and Wall-E) allows a young audience to embrace those suffering the consequences flowing from a physical or mental impairment, and everyone roots for our heroes as they fight to conquer their weaknesses.
As noted, I saw this film by myself, and it is always a bit of an adventure to sit in a theater surrounded by families. While I have told this story before, permit me to revisit it.
Many years ago, I called a divorced friend and asked her if her 8-year-old daughter had seen Pocahontas (1995). I told her that I would take her to the late afternoon show if she was remotely interested.
When she told me that her daughter was dying to see the film, she asked me why I would want to take her when I go to most of my films alone. I responded with a bit of sarcasm, “Well, if I show up by myself wearing a suit, most of the parents will think I’m a child molester.”
Regardless, I arrived at the theater first, and was shocked to find a rather long line forming outside the building. When my friend Ann arrived with her daughter, I saw them laughing hysterically in their car, after which Elise ran up to me in line. I waved at her mother and yelled, “I’ll have her home by 8 o’clock.”
By then, a large number of patrons were standing behind me and I noticed that Elise continued to laugh as she was bending over pounding her knees. When I asked her what she found so amusing, she looked up and yelled, “My mom says you’re so funny.” When I responded, “Oh yeah, why?”, she yelled at the top of her lungs, “She said you needed me to see this movie with you or everyone here would think you’re a big child molester!”
Needless to say, everyone in line immediately turned and stared at me. I leaned over to Elise and quietly whispered, “Listen you little shit, you are going to have to keep your mouth shut or someone will call Child Protective Services and I will be arrested before we are able to buy a ticket.”
I’ve always loved that story, and I told it 14 years later at Elise’s wedding reception. She was laughing as loudly at the age of 22 as she was at the age of 8.