Abandoned by my two grandchildren and Saudi foreign exchange student, I was forced to bite the bullet and go alone to see “Finding Dory.” Though it doesn’t quite dance in the same cinematic atmosphere as “Finding Nemo” (2003), it is a fully enjoyable film on its own merits.
The principal reason is that Ellen DeGeneres lends her charm to Dory, an absent-minded blue tang fish in search of her lost parents. With the assistance of Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence), she ends up in a California aquatic center where all hell breaks loose.
Trapped in the functional equivalent of Sea World, Dory enlists the help of an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill); Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a near-sighted whale shark and Bailey (Ty Burrell), a beluga with a head injury. Together they form a team attempting to determine whether Dory’s parents are alive or dead.
The joy encompassed by this film centers on the disabilities suffered by Dory and many of her friends. Director Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo” and “WALL-E”) allows a young audience to embrace those suffering the consequences flowing from a physical or mental impairment, and everyone roots for our heroes as they fight to conquer their weaknesses.
As noted, I saw this film by myself, and it is always a bit of an adventure to sit in a theater surrounded by families. While I have told this story before, permit me to revisit it.
Many years ago, I called a divorced friend and asked if her 8-year-old daughter had seen “Pocahontas” (1995). I told her that I would take her daughter to the late afternoon show if she was remotely interested.
When she told me that her daughter was dying to see the film, she asked me why I would want to take her when I go to most of my films alone. I responded with a bit of sarcasm, “Well, if I show up by myself wearing a suit, most of the parents will think I’m a child molester.”
Regardless, I arrived at the theater first, and was shocked to find a rather long line forming outside the building. When my friend Ann arrived with her daughter, I saw them laughing hysterically in their car, after which Elise ran up to me in line. I waved at her mother and yelled, “I’ll have her home by 8 o’clock.”
By then, a large number of patrons were standing behind me and I noticed that Elise continued to laugh as she was bending over pounding her knees. When I asked her what she found so amusing, she looked up and yelled, “My mom says you’re so funny.” When I responded, “Oh yeah, why?” she yelled at the top of her lungs, “She said you needed me to see this movie with you or everyone here would think you’re a big child molester!”
Needless to say, everyone in line immediately turned and stared at me. I leaned over to Elise and quietly whispered, “Listen you little s--t, you are going to have to keep your mouth shut or someone will call Child Protective Services and I will be arrested before we are able to buy a ticket.”
I’ve always loved that story, and I told it 14 years later at Elise’s wedding reception. She was laughing as loudly at the age of 22 as she did the age of 8.
“Weiner” is a mind-numbing documentary likely to be nominated in that Oscar category. As only a narcissist could do, Anthony Weiner allows the camera to look behind the curtain to reveal an ego-driven politician in need of excellent psychiatric care.
The entire film makes you feel like you are watching a flasher film of a likeable pervert exposing himself while walking through a park only to deny it when confronted. Using another analogy, think of Donald Trump allowing cameras to follow him at his office and home and you’ll understand this movie’s stunning impact.
By his own admission, Weiner represented many 21st-century American politicians. They focus solely on themselves 24 hours a day. Constantly seeking praise and raising money, when is any action described as “going too far?” As long as no one is hurt, who cares?
However, Weiner’s problem is characterized by a startling moment when he was interviewed on television during the New York mayoral election in 2013 by Lawrence O’Donnell. O’Donnell begins with the direct question, “What is wrong with you?” Startled, Weiner aggressively responds in a fashion that leaves him grinning with pride while horrifying the viewing audience.
As most of you know, Weiner was forced to resign from his congressional office after being caught sending explicit sexual text messages to a variety of women. His problem was exacerbated by the fact that he was married to Huma Abedin, a close aide-de-camp to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Returning to the race for mayor claiming to be a “new man,” he mistakenly invites cameras to film his rebirth. Unfortunately, it is then revealed that he has resumed his teenage-boy-like shenanigans two weeks before the election. A crisis develops, Weiner becomes a subject of ridicule in newspapers and on national TV, and the camera allows you to see him moan and groan with his troubled aides.
While it soon becomes clear that Weiner is little more than a twisted, chauvinistic pig who champions good causes, the film leaves you cringing as you watch the reaction of his wife. She is forced to repeatedly stand in front of the camera next to Weiner as he watches his transgressions played out on TV, and your heart breaks as she stoically looks away, arms tightly folded and a face filled with disbelief. She is to be admired because she stuck by a man she loved despite the fact that he indirectly brought her shame and ridicule.
Yes, they were parents of a small child, but no one would have blamed her if she had dumped him.•
Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.