Sunday, June 19, 2016

FINDING DORY: Review + Activity Sheets

I took my 7 year old daughter to go see FINDING DORY and she found the movie absolutely adorable.  In this sequel to 2003's FINDING NEMO which won the Academy Award for "Best Animated Feature", the friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish Dory is on a mission to reunite with her loved ones, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.  It is a touching, well-done film that is perfect for a summer family outing to the movie theater and will definitely be a contender for its own Best Animated Feature Oscar.

As is the norm with movies from Disney's Pixar Animation Studios, a short film is shown before the feature presentation of FINDING DORY.  Called "Piper" it tells the story of a hungry sandpiper hatchling who ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline.  The only problem is, the food is buried beneath the sand where scary waves roll up onto the shore.  This short directed by Alan Barillaro and produced by Marc Sondheimer was delightful to watch and was a wonderful themed pairing to the sea life themes of FINDING DORY.  On the drive home from the movie theater my daughter told me that Piper was her "favorite pre-movie movie" she's ever seen.

Since seeing FINDING DORY my daughter has been constantly asking me "Who is Sigourney Weaver?"  The movie begins with Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), still forgetful with her short-term memory problem, living happily on the Great Australian Barrier Reef with clownfish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence).  When an event triggers Dory's memories so that she begins to remember glimpses of her family and where she came from, the blue tang fish heads off to rediscover her past.  This leads her to travel across the ocean to the Marine Life Institute (MLI), an aquarium and fish hospital on the coast of California, searching for her parents. Marlin and Nemo follow in close pursuit hoping to catch up to their friend and keep Dory  out of trouble and danger.  As Dory swims towards the MLI aquarium she is warmly welcomed to visit the place by the cameo voice of Sigourney Weaver.  In the film, Weaver welcomes the aquarium's human visitors and narrates educational points at its exhibits projected through loud speakers.  All the kids in the theater who apparently had no clue who the actress is were looking at their parents wondering why the adults were chuckling at the repeated references to Sigourney Weaver throughout the movie.  This very well could become the signature gag of FINDING DORY.

The MLI serves as the principal location for the adventures in this film as Dory, Marlin and Nemo explore it looking for clues to Dory's past.  FINDING DORY is not as much about searching to physically locate a missing Dory but rather about rediscovering her past so she can find elements of her life that she has been missing.  Since the MLI plays such an important role in this movie here are some fun educational activity sheets that you can incorporate into your FINDING DORY movie experience that tie into it.

Dory, Marlin and Nemo are assisted in exploring MLI by a new cast of characters that include Hank (voice of Ed O'Neill), a cantankerous "septopus" -- an octopus who only has seven tentacles because he lost one in an aquarium incident -- who frequently escapes his tank; Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who is convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark; Flake (voiced by Idris Elba) and Rudder (voiced by Dominic West), a pair of lazy sea lions; and a pack of very cute otters.  For the most part these new characters are entertaining and likeable but to be honest are just frankly not as interesting as the supporting crew from FINDING NEMO.  With the exception of Hank who is a great addition to the movie, really steals the show and is better than any of the supporting characters from FINDING NEMO.  I found all the scenes involving Hank very funny and entertaining.  Hank was by far my favorite character in the movie.  Plus you'll want to watch all the humorous sequences involving him that they incorporate into the credits. My daughter didn't agree with me though on Hank being the best part of the movie giving that honor to ... baby Dory.

I have to admit that I never found Dory that endearing of a character in FINDING NEMO and was wondering how well her being the main character in a film would work out.  In FINDING DORY, the movie creates a connection between the audience and the character through flashbacks featuring an adorable baby Dory that made everyone in the theater go "awe" every time she appears on the screen.  These flashbacks combined with heartwarming story elements really allow Dory to stand on her own as a successful lead character for the movie.  My daughter LOVED baby Dory and to be honest I did too.

Check out some of the new characters from FINDING DORY in these fun coloring pages:

So will Dory, Marlin and Nemo along with their new found friends at the MLI find Dory's parents?  You'll have to go to the movie to find out!  I will say though that you need to stay through the credits to see one final scene that really brings FINDING NEMO and FINDING DORY together full circle in a humorous way.  Just Keep Swimming to your local movie theater to see FINDING DORY while it is at the cinema as it really is worth the big screen experience.

FINDING DORY is rated PG and is 97 minutes long.  The PG rating is attributable to scenes that include a potentially scary incident with a one-eyed squid and a horrific moment with Dory trapped in a bucket full of dead fish that could be disturbing for some children. For more information, visit

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