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Disney and Pixar’s “Finding Dory” is the highly anticipated sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” which introduced audiences to the always-cheerful blue tang fish whose memory only lasts about 10 seconds or so.

The sequel opens with flashbacks to Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres) as a child fish who suffers from “remembery loss.” Her forgetfulness causes her to get separated from her parents and prevents her from reconnecting with them as she ages. Suddenly, the story flashes forward to a year after the events of “Finding Nemo.” Dory is living in the same coral reef as clownfish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolance) when she suddenly remembers her parents. Determined to find them, she sets off across the ocean with a reluctant Marlin and an eager Nemo tagging along to help her remember her mission.

“Finding Dory” shares a lot in common with its predecessor, which means families who enjoyed “Finding Nemo” will likely enjoy this sequel, too. Both feature a similar theme and the same characters, but “Finding Dory” also introduces some fun, new characters, such as Hank, a cantankerous and child-fearing octopus who makes a deal to help Dory if she does him a favor — which she keeps forgetting.  Dory’s disability is often played for laughs, but it’s also shown for what it is, which is at times disorienting and frightening. The fact that Dory manages to adapt to and embrace her forgetfulness is a great lesson for kids who might be different in some way from their peers.

Because this is Pixar, parents should expect a few heavy emotional scenes, especially when young Dory becomes separated from her parents and can’t find her way back home. During Dory’s journey, there are some scenes of peril that might alarm sensitive or very young children, such as when Dory, Marlin and Nemo encounter a dangerous giant squid intent on making a meal out of the trio. There is no profanity, but in one scene, a character yells, “Suck this!” before escaping capture. There are also no scenes suggesting any sexual innuendo that I noticed.

“Finding Dory” features a lot of slapstick comedy and some totally improbable scenarios that manage to be fun to watch anyway.  At the heart of it all is a message about the importance of family — and that family should and can include anyone who loves you unconditionally. Dory’s ability to overcome all of the obstacles put in her way is also a positive and uplifting message. Her famous saying “Just keep swimming” is a great metaphor for never giving up, no matter how difficult things seem.

Overall, I’d recommend “Finding Dory” for audiences of all ages. It’s funny, it’s emotional, and it has a lot of heart — just like “Finding Nemo.”

“Finding Dory” is rated PG for mild thematic elements. It’s now playing in theaters nationwide.

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