“I suffer from short-term memory loss. … I forget things almost instantly. It runs in my family. At least I think it does … hmm. Where are they … ?”
In those brief lines — nimbly delivered by Ellen DeGeneres as the blue tang Dory, introducing herself to Albert Brooks’ Marlin the clownfish in Finding Nemo over a dozen years ago — are a potent blend of daring wit, restless invention and creative ruthlessness typical of Pixar in its prime.
Dory’s perpetual forgetfulness was at once a stroke of comic genius, a flourish of poignant character development, a crucial plot point and — fleetingly evoked by the unresolved tension of that passing question, trailing off before fading away — a hint of quiet tragedy and darkness.
Set one year after Finding Nemo, Finding Dory introduces us to a nearsighted whale shark (Kaitlin Olson), a beluga whale (Ty Burrell) suffering from psychosomatic echolocation dysfunction and an octopus (Ed O’Neill) missing a tentacle (so he’s really a “septapus,” as Dory notes). Oh, and a wall-eyed, disheveled loon who easily imprints on anyone or anything that looks her in the eye and coos just so, and will thereafter do whatever you want.
Along with Nemo’s gimpy fin and Dory’s memory troubles — here unambiguously presented as a cognitive disability unique to Dory, neither a characteristic of her species nor, so far as we see, a family trait — Finding Dory is like a whole classroom of special-needs sea creatures.
Read more at National Catholic Register.