I love animated films. But not the corny ones that just make you laugh. I love animated films that make me laugh, cry, and walk away feeling like I can be a better person. I know, it’s a lot to ask from a movie that was made with kids in mind, but I have high expectations. If I am going to spend quality time watching a movie with my kids, I want us all to get something meaningful from the experience. And sure, laughs are great, but I want a good story to go with those laughs.

When Finding Nemo was released in 2003, I didn’t have children yet. I actually wasn’t even married yet. I still watched it, though. I’ve always loved Disney films and I was intrigued by the storyline. I wanted to know how things turned out for this little clown fish named Nemo (Alexander Gould). I immediately fell in love with Nemo and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres). Even though the film is about a group of 3-D animated fish, it taught us so much about the human experience and what it means to have someone in your corner when you need them the most. Touching on issues like fear, protection, confusion and love, Finding Nemo left me feeling entertained and emotional.

I always wanted to see a sequel to the movie but figured it would never happen. I wasn’t sure what the sequel would be about, but I knew if one was created, I would watch it. Now, 13 years later, I have two young kids who are huge Finding Nemo fans and they can’t wait to see Finding Dory. I understand their enthusiasm. I can’t wait to see the whole film either.

But my littles don’t know my secret. I saw the first 30 minutes of Finding Dory at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration a few weeks ago. Even though they attended the conference with me, I never let this particular cat out of the bag. I was afraid I’d disappoint them. Actually, I think I was more afraid of all the questions they would have that I wouldn’t want to answer because I want them to experience it for themselves.

Finding Dory

Finding Dory / Photo: Disney Pixar

So what is so special about this fish Dory anyway? Does she really need her own movie? The answer is YES. Heck yea Dory needs her own film. She has a story to tell.

Anyone that saw Finding Nemo knows that the movie was as amazing as it was because of Dory. Not only is Dory funny, helpful, and kind, but Dory messes up A LOT. Her short-term memory loss makes her feel like a bit of a hot mess at times, and she is constantly apologizing for it. But her imperfections make her lovable. It’s it ironic that we are so hard on ourselves for being imperfect, but when we see imperfection in others (yes, even a fish) we love them for it.

Based on what I have seen, I have no doubt that fans will adore Dory even more after watching Finding Dory. The highly anticipated sequel includes elements of Dory’s character that I just didn’t expect to see. I wish I could share more, but you’d be upset if I ruined it for you.

What I can share is that while attending the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration I was able to learn more about why Andrew Stanton, the creator of both films, waited so long to create Finding Dory. Lindsey Collins, a  producer for Finding Dory, spoke to us about why it was so important to create the sequel.

After Finding Nemo, Stanton was done. He believed the story was told and a sequel wasn’t needed. Eventually, however, there was a realization that Dory’s story needed to be told. Stanton realized that we had questions about Dory. Who is Dory? Where is her family? Why does she have short-term memory loss? All of these questions come up for the audience during Finding Nemo, but we are left hanging. We never quite know what the deal is with this sweet, quirky, forgetful Blue Tang Fish named Dory.

Finding Dory

Lindsey Collins, Finding Dory Producer – Photo Credit: Preston Mack/Disney

Now Dory’s story is finally being told. And in telling her story, we learn more about what makes this adorable fish  so relatable. She teaches us lessons that we should already know, but sometimes we need to be reminded–even if that reminder comes from a 3-D animated fish that’s captured our hearts.

So what did my 30-minute viewing along with my memories of Finding Nemo make me realize? I realized that Dory can teach us a few things about life if we truly pay attention. Here goes…

Your True Friends Always Have Your Back

In the film, Dory remembers her family. This is stunning, really, since Dory never remembers anything. And when she does remember that she has a family, she is determined to piece the story together. Of course, she turns to her closest friends, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo, to help. Life is tricky and sometimes the unexpected comes up. When it does, we need to have the right people in our corners. They may end up in a mess they didn’t sign up for, but the mark of a true friend is someone who will help you figure our your mess because they love you and they want you to find peace. If a fish can find friends like this in the deep blue sea, I think we can all find a few here on land.

Your Flaws Can Be Your Super Powers

During the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Lindsey Collins talks about this very point. When she said it, I immediately thought about who Dory is and what I remember about her from Finding Nemo. Dory was always apologizing, always feeling bad about her flaws. But I think this sequel is about to give us a thought-provoking glimpse into the power of flaws. Dory goes around seeing the good in everyone but herself. Maybe it’s time Dory realizes how awesome she really is. I think she will. She deserves to. We all do.

Knowing What Your Story Is Matters 

Finding Nemo was all about the importance of family and finding answers. I don’t think we should expect anything different from Finding Dory. Dory has a story and she is trying to figure out what it is. And she doesn’t know if the story is good or bad. She just knows that it belongs to her and she deserves to know the details. The same is true for all of us. Good or bad, we all want clarity about our stories. We all want to know what makes us who we are.

Thanks, Dory. I honestly didn’t think a little fish who’s adored by my kids could be so deep. But I guess when you open your eyes and your heart, you can see the value in anything that truly adds value.

Finding Dory hits theaters June 17th. I know where I’ll be with my family that weekend! Let me know if you plan to check it out. You know you deserve some quality time with the people you love most.

To get a peek at what you’re in for, check out the official trailer.

I paid a conference fee to attend the 2016 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and I also received discounted and complimentary items during the conference. All opinions shared are my own.