With its recent re-release in 3-D—and, yes, I'll be one of the first to admit that this is simply a way to make a quick buck—I couldn't help but go see Finding Nemo. (Really, animation is my vice. Even if the movie looks horrible, I'll still shell out $10.00 to watch it in the theatre.) And, like I remember first being all those years ago, the film caught me off guard. It's one of those films that I rarely think about and have, maybe, watched it six or seven times since its initial release in 2003, but anyone would be hard-pressed to say that it isn't a good bit of storytelling. Even if you don't always—or ever—like Pixar's films, those guys know their elements of a narrative and have that shit down to a science.
In all honesty, I could care less about Marlin, the little lost Nemo, and even the tank full of escape-obsessed fish, but Dory punches me in the heart every time. She may be the best argument for ignorance is bliss that I've ever seen, as her good humor and unwavering optimism stem from her lack of focus or being able to remember, or be aware of, the current plight. But that's what makes her so special. Nothing can get her down. She finds the fun and life in every moment, from bouncing on jellyfish tops to spiraling along with the water inside the whale's mouth. And she's always willing to help, regardless of what she's doing—seeing as she probably has no idea what she's doing—but she's always, always putting others before herself. She's a perfect picture of selflessness, something you so rarely see in anyone or anything these days—real life or in the fictional world.
The only time you see her "selfishness" (please note my lack of punning that could've been) leak through is when Marlin is about to abandon her. (If this doesn't tear you up or, bare minimum, choke you up, then I'd start checking yourself for a "Manufactured by Skynet" label somewhere.) Even then, it's not truly selfishness, which is why I put it in quotes. She doesn't want him to leave because he makes her a better version of herself. She remembers things more easily. With him, she feels "home." And isn't that something we shouldn't begrudge anyone for wanting? Shouldn't it be okay to want to be with someone that makes you better than you would be alone—or even with another?
Even at the end of that scene, she doesn't begrudge Marlin for leaving, or even like him any less. If anything, it just makes you think that Marlin really is just an orange and white-striped dicknose.
It amazes me that one character can have such an affect on a story. That they can make or break the entire thing. Which goes to show why it's better to focus on your characters over the action. Sure, plotting is good. Action needs to happen. But in the end, if we don't have characters that our readers and viewers will click with on an emotional level—or simply fall in love with them—then what's the point of the story in first place?