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‘Finding Dory’ charts the search for self

“Finding Dory” (2016). Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolance, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Sigourney Weaver, Sloane Murray, Lucia Geddes, Bob Peterson, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Torbin Xan Bullock, Andrew Stanton, Bennett Dammann, John Ratzenberger, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Austin Pendleton, Stephen Root. Directors: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane. Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse, Bob Peterson and Angus MacLane. Story: Andrew Stanton. Web site. Trailer.

Finding our family is often an exercise in finding ourselves, especially when we employ inventive means for achieving it. We come to discover things we never knew, including personal skills and talents previously unknown. Such is the odyssey faced by a little blue fish separated from her parents in the charming new animated release, “Finding Dory.”

This sequel to the 2003 smash hit “Finding Nemo” (web site, trailer) finds the once-lost youthful clownfish Nemo (Hayden Rolence) successfully reunited with his dad, Marlin (Albert Brooks), a reunion facilitated by their friend, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a regal tang afflicted with short-term memory loss. This happy experience, in turn, inspires Dory to undertake finding her own long-lost parents (Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy). Given Dory’s innate forgetfulness, that goal is a lot easier said than done, but she’s determined to see it through. She thus sets off on a mission of her own with Nemo and Marlin in tow.

Through a series of miraculous recollections from her days as a youngster (Sloane Murray), coupled with an assortment of inspired intuitive acts, Dory and her friends make their way from their home in the Great Barrier Reef to a marine theme park on the California coast, where she believes her parents live. But where exactly are they? That’s the real challenge Dory undertakes. Thankfully, she has help from a number of newfound allies, including a crafty, curmudgeonly octopus (Ed O’Neill), a near-sighted whale shark (Kaitlin Olson), an insecure beluga whale (Ty Burrell) and a pair of wily sea lions (Idris Elba, Dominic West), all of whom want to see Dory succeed in her quest.

Dory’s search for her parents ultimately proves to be more than just a mission to find her family. Her storied odyssey is also a search for herself, an important personal undertaking considering the inherent challenges associated with her short-term memory issues. Through this experience, Dory learns what it means to be Dory, in every respect. She also learns how to look within and follow her heart, allowing herself to listen to her intuition (no matter how seemingly implausible it might be) and not restrict herself to purely rational thought. Such behavior might seem impulsive, perhaps even illogical, but it generally leads her to where she needs to be to fulfill her task.

This is particularly significant as she learns how to work the conscious creation process, the means by which we manifest the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents. Since our beliefs are the driving force in materializing what arises in our existence, it’s crucial that we form them in ways that make what we desire possible. And that’s where our intuition and intellect come into play, as they provide the basis for how those beliefs take shape.

Dory’s experience proves particularly insightful when it comes to making use of our intuition. That’s the element of belief formation most of us readily dismiss as irrational and untrustworthy. But not Dory; she freely embraces it at seemingly every turn, no matter how strange or wrongheaded it may appear to onlookers, unaffected by the constraints of logic that hamstring most of us when we place an overreliance on our intellect. She sees her impulses (i.e., her intuitive-based beliefs) as perfectly natural and unreservedly believes in their intrinsic validity, able to cast aside intellectual considerations that might deter the rest of us.

In light of this, Dory’s short-term memory loss could even be seen as an asset, because it liberates her to follow her impulses when she needs them most. It enables her to live in the moment, unfettered by intellectual concerns (which are often driven by memory and experience) that might prevent her from acting in ways necessary to realize her goals. Indeed, one could argue that the creation of this so-called “disability” is itself an inspired way of learning how to make use of her intuition, because it forces her to look past her intellect alone to concoct the beliefs she needs to fulfill her objectives.

In this way, Dory embodies one of conscious creation’s chief aims, the ability to push past limitations, particularly where beliefs and their outcomes are concerned. This can lead to a variety of additional payoffs, such as the discovery of previously unknown parts of ourselves. Skills, talents and abilities hitherto unseen suddenly make their presence known, enriching us and our lives in ways we may have never imagined.

For example, Dory successfully overcomes her short-term memory loss issues when she calls forth recollections from her youth. Prior to launching her quest to locate her parents, she had convinced herself that she’d never be able to surmount her memory challenges. Yet the incentive of finding her family – and the beliefs that support it – are so potent that she’s able to create the means to facilitate it, including her newfound ability to recall memories once thought to be inaccessible (and that prove essential to the fulfillment of her larger objective).

Taking such a bold envelope-pushing approach to the creation of our reality generally means we’re able to face our fears and live heroically. This sheds further light on the value of listening to our intuition, because drawing upon it frequently takes courage, the resolve to dismiss the conventional wisdom and try the untried.

At the start of Dory’s quest, for example, Marlin looks upon her goal with ample skepticism, believing she’s following a fool’s quest, given her memory issues. However, Dory believes she can succeed at it; she’s so confident, in fact, that she’s able to disregard her friend’s well-intentioned, but ultimately misplaced, admonitions. Nemo echoes Dory’s sentiments about this, too, reminding his father of their own experience when they became separated – and how Marlin never lost faith in his beliefs that he would find his son, no matter how much the odds may have seemed stacked against them. Dory thus sets a shining example for us all to follow – even those of us clouded by doubts in our abilities to attain what we set out to do.

“Finding Dory” is a knock-out sequel to a knock-out original, a genuine rarity in the movie industry these days. This fun, touching, playful romp features lovable familiar characters and endearing new ones, along with impressive, inventive animation and affecting vocalizations from a remarkable all-star cast. Although the picture tends to drag a bit toward the end, and even though it could use a few more genuine belly laughs throughout, Disney-Pixar has nevertheless knocked it out of the aquarium with this one, a real charmer sure to entertain kids and adults alike.

The next time you set off on a task you consider important to your personal well-being but don’t know how to proceed, follow the title character’s example. Indeed, as several of her peers observe in the film, when faced with uncertain circumstances, just ask yourself, “What would Dory do?” The answer may prove to be quite revealing – and in more ways than imagined.

Copyright © 2016, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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