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Movie Review: Finding Dory

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Overview:  Dory is our friendly blue fish with short term ‘remembery’ loss from Finding Nemo.  In this movie, we see her as a little bulb-eyed cutie who loses her mom and dad.  One day, living with Nemo and his dad, she remembers she had her own family and decides to go forth and find them because – mom and dad!  She goes on many wacky adventures, meets many other fish and sharks and octopus that don’t want to eat her, but rather help her and

SPOILER

She reunites with her family, and then realizes she misses her friends so they all reunite and live happily.  Oh, and she gets over her short-term memory loss.

The Good:  This is Pixar and Pixar knows cute- so it’s really cute.  Baby Dory is cute.  They always get the right kids for the voices and the voices are super cute.  Celebrities are the main voices, so you can say, ‘oh, that’s the guy from Modern Family!  And that’s the other guy from Modern Family!’ while you watch.

The artwork is beautiful – tons of underwater beauty shots, kelp moving, etc.  Humans are few and far between.  They have fun with the camouflaging properties of Hank, the Octopus.

The Bad:  I think for kid kids, this would be good.  There’s a lot of repetition and it comes across as a children’s book.  Usually, Pixar is really good about having a movie for all ages but this one I wouldn’t say follows that pattern.  Instead, this is the pattern:

Dory searches for her parents.  Has a memory of where they are, goes there, they aren’t there.  She is then told where they are, or has another memory, so goes there.  They aren’t there.  She meets friends along the way who help.  It’s kind of a movie version of ‘Are You My Mommy.’

The portrayals of disability and treatment of those with disabilities is also troublesome.  We have Dory, who is taught at a young age to say that she has short term memory loss disorder when meeting new people.  She has lived her life with that one knowledge and now – now she’s remembering.  Now at an old age she realizes she does have memories and can remember things.  She learns to get over it.

Now, in fairness, what she remembers is long-term memories, so that can make sense.  But there are other things- She is called an ‘inspiration’ for still living her life despite the disability, which feeds into the magic inspirational disabled person.  For some reason, everyone, even natural predators, love her for trying so hard, too, and automatically want to help her.

There is a seal who is portrayed like classic vaudeville mentally ill person – googly eyes, bucked teeth, etc, who is not allowed on the same rock as the other ‘normal’ seals. He is constantly bullied and kicked off the rock in a tone that makes me think they want us to laugh at it – so here it’s okay to make fun of disabled kids.

Becky is a similarly portrayed bird.  Goofy, doesn’t talk, wonky eyed.  Therefore Nemo’s dad doesn’t trust her to do her job.  However, in this he’s wrong.  She would have brought them where they were going had he trusted her.

There is a whale, Destiny, who is short-sighted and a beluga whale who can’t echolocate because of a concussion.  The beluga learns to get over it, while Destiny learns she can get around with the help of friends.

So, a lot of mixed messages around disability and who can inspire, who you can trust to do a job, who should be shunned, who should just get over it, and who really needs help.

The Female:  They’re sea creatures, but the voices are still gendered, and there are still far too few females.  We have:

Dory:  The plucky lead who just wants her family together, and then her family and friends.

Destiny:  Dory’s whale shark friend who doesn’t eat her.  Limited scene time.

Dory’s mom:  She’s, uhm, Dory’s mom.  She loves her daughter no matter what.

Becky the bird is voiced by a male, and doesn’t do much, but has the gendered name.

Sigourney Weaver:  She voices the rehabilitation sea habitat, so a recorded voice really.

So, uhm. . .it passes the Bechdel test (two women talk, and not about a man) because Dory and Destiny talk about home and not a guy.  But if you’re doing a film with fish, it would be great to break out of standard Hollywood gender roles or ratios.  Heck, with fish you could even get rid of gender somehow or play with the non-binary.

Overall, might keep a kidlet entertained and has cute moments but not Pixar’s greatest.

 

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