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There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

I requested to go to Finding Dory with my friends for my birthday. Yup. That is the type of person I am. And yup it is many months later and I am writing this, but shhhhh no one will know anyway. I’m just writing this for myself, honestly. Anyway, I always appreciate that Pixar is incredible at sequels. Most Pixar sequels I’ve seen (I haven’t seen any of the Cars, yuck) have only built on the story. That’s the thing about sequels, if you try to do the exact same thing again, it’s dull, and that’s when people get it wrong. But you say okay what is the next natural step of this storyline, and you deepen the world you’re in, and it’s just fantastic. That’s what Pixar does. Toy Story 2 and 3 are great because they’re continuations of the world we already love in realistic ways! Finding Dory is the same way. At first I was questioning how we were going to do an entire movie of Dory with her forgetfulness, but it ended up being such an emotional and strong part of the story. DAMN YOU PIXAR AND YOUR EMOTIONS.

Quick previously: In Finding Nemo, Marlin lost his son Nemo to a fisher and traveled across the sea to find him with his new friend Dory. She has short term memory loss and can only remember a few seconds at a time, outside of occasional emotional memories. Dory is the star of this film, and she is living happily with Marlin and Nemo now as part of their family. We get flashbacks of her as a baby fish, and as her parents try to gently coach her on how to explain she has memory loss, and how to interact with others. This movie does eventually get into the tragedy of mental illness or mental handicaps, considering that’s what Dory lives with, and it’s heartbreaking when you know she gets separated from them. And doesn’t remember where they were or who they were. So Dory suddenly remembers from an emotional connection that she has her parents, and she goes off to find them, but obviously she doesn’t remember enough to piece it all together. That’s not going to stop the fish who has the motto JUST KEEP SWIMMING.

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“Finding Dory” introduces new characters to the big screen, including a whale shark named Destiny who’s nearsighted, and a beluga whale named Bailey who thinks his biological sonar skills are on the fritz. Featuring Kaitlin Olson as the voice of Destiny and Ty Burrell as the voice of Bailey, “Finding Dory” opens on June 17, 2016. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Dory figures out her family is in the Marine Life Institute in California. How they get there isn’t so easy, as they do get to Cali, but Marlin gets frustrated when Dory almost gets him and Nemo killed. She meets a seven-legged octopus named Hank while in the Marine Life Institute, and she agrees to give him a tag that will help him be shipped off somewhere else if he’ll help her get to her family. Over the course of the film she becomes close to Hank and his hard outside melts because who cannot love Dory, okay? She also gets back in contact with a whale she was friends with as a child, and when she does finally get to where her parents should be … they’re gone. Marlin and Nemo go after her and do barely manage to get in. There’s this fun moment when Marlin goes WHAT WOULD DORY DO and goes by instinct rather than his usual overthinking. That made me smile. Marlin and Nemo get put on the truck to go to the other habitat, and Dory is flushed down accidentally by Hank into the sea. She finds a trail of seashells that returns her to her family.

We’re a group of adults and we were basically weeping at this point. I knew that it would be so intense to watch that reunion, since it was already so sad the entire time. But boy did that hit you right in the feels. Because not only has she finally found them, and realizes they’ve been waiting in this exact spot all this time hoping she’d come back to them, but she apologizes. For forgetting them and never coming back until now; the joke about her short memory in the first movie has so much nuance now. It’s a serious handicap for her and led to her losing her family for awhile. That’s just heartwrenching, and delivered fantastically by Ellen Degeneres. Obviously we know that everyone gets back to the sea and lives happily ever after. But this movie packed a lot of emotional wallops every step of the way. Along with some incredibly funny moments too. Seriously, this movie had me laughing so hard at several points that it hurt. Frankly, I think it’s better than Finding Nemo, but obviously it wouldn’t exist without that. Dory is just a lovable character and her pain is so relatable even if we do have good memories. The new characters were all so fun and interesting too. The movie was charming, painful, intelligent, and all the things you’d expect from Pixar. Plus INCREDIBLE ANIMATION and voice acting as always.

See it. It broke records as it should, and I can’t wait to watch it again. Of course I need to get a few boxes of tissues before then. Oh, Pixar. You hurt us so good.

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