Finding Dory: I Can’t Sit Through It Again

This is not a review.

I don’t think there are any spoilers here. But if you really need to go in blind, come back and read after you’ve seen the film. I know I’m in the minority. Everyone loves a Disney flick, and so do I. Monsters, Inc? Yes, please. The Emperor’s New Groove? I’ll have an extra helping with a side of Yzma (but hold the Kronk’s New Groove).

The best Disney movie ever made. Eartha Kitts at her most hilarious.

The best Disney movie ever made. Eartha Kitts at her most hilarious.

I even loved Finding Nemo. It came out when the Padawan was just a toddler, and he had already set his sights on becoming a marine biologist.

We went to see Finding Dory on Father’s Day, even though Disney has a history of offing parents in terrible and creative ways. We figure with both of us as parents, we’ll be paying for our kids’ therapy anyway, so why not? We even took Squish. It was his next-to-first movie. We even bought popcorn with free refills. We were ready for adventure. And then the picture rolled.

Fifteen minutes into the film, I didn’t want to watch it anymore. If you’ve never seen either movie, let me catch you up. Dory is a fish who suffers from short-term memory loss. Notice I didn’t say she’s a fish *with* short-term memory loss. She suffers. It is painful, not just for her, but for all of us.

She's adorable. And heartbreakingly apologetic. Photo source: USA Today

She’s adorable. And heartbreakingly apologetic. Photo source: USA Today

The movie contains a number of scenes that flash back to Dory’s babyhood. We get to see baby Dory and her Mom and Dad as they coach her on how to help a cruel world understand her. “My name is Dory, and I have short-term remembery loss.” Isn’t that cute? Maybe it should have been, but it wasn’t. Instead of a little baby fish with big, violet eyes, I see my son.

No, he hasn't been drinking blood. He has a cherry slushie.

No, he hasn’t been drinking blood. He has a cherry slushie.

What broke my heart more? Was it the look on baby Dory’s face each time she realized she was different, somehow lacking in an essential element? Was it her abject apologies to her parents when she failed to remember, when her disability caused her to stumble? Did I imagine the heartsick expressions on her parents’ faces when they reassured her that she hadn’t done anything wrong? I don’t know. I just know I felt exhausted, and I wanted to cry. For Dory, for her parents, for myself.

Instead of feeling hopeful at what was supposed to be an adorable story, I was inexplicably angry, and I wanted the movie to stop. I wanted Disney to quit exploiting this child, to quit showing me over and over and over again how different she is and how painful that difference is for her.

Dory slips away from her parents, something we know has to happen in order to move the story forward, for there to have been a Finding Nemo in the first place. But what was the real story? So many questions bubbled in my brain.

Were Dory’s parents  ever hopeful that one day their child would live a successful life on her own?

What is their internal dialogue each time they reassure her that she is just fine? Do they cry on the inside because they foresee how difficult her life is going to be?

Did they keep her away from the other little fish for her safety, or was it because they were afraid the other fish wouldn’t understand her and would be treat her badly?

How many times did they cry because another fish was cruel to her?

Did Dory understand her parents’ heartache and anger when she was bullied? 

Did being pushed around bother her, or was she, like Squish, completely oblivious?

Did Dory ever have supervised play time with hand-picked small fry so that she could learn how to interact with others, or was she isolated?

Had Dory’s parents planned to have only one child, or were all their resources, both financial and emotional, tied up in Dory?

They knew she had trouble remembering. Why did they ever leave her alone? Why was there no alarm on the door?

Had Dory made enough progress that they genuinely thought she would be able to remember the rules for keeping herself safe?

Were they just so worn down from constant vigilance that they let down their guard?

In the movie, Dory’s parents are always seen together. If they had maybe tag-teamed and taken shifts, would they have had more energy for supervising her? Would their marriage have suffered as a result?

And most importantly, if Dory’s parents couldn’t do it, can I?



38 thoughts on “Finding Dory: I Can’t Sit Through It Again

    • Usually Disney yanks out our hearts by offing the parents. This time, they broke my heart with the child. I think the film was probably fine. I may be too close to it to objectively say.

  1. As a kid I was traumatized by Bambi. I don’t think I ever watched the entire movie again. Love Snoopy, but was never a fan of Charlie Brown or Lucy as their relationship seem to make victimhood and exploiting passivity acceptable…

    I do think it is important to have jeopardy both as good story telling (even for kids) and as a reflection of life, but it can become a fine line to not glorifying bullying and aggression. I love Toy Story, but it felt a bit borderline with the demonic boy next door. Hugely disappointed with Big Hero Six when all these brainy geeks could only come up with making robots more fight worthy by adding firepower and explosions to defeat the bad guys.

    We were suppose to go see Finding Dory yesterday. Will now wait for dvd and see The Secret Life of Pets when it comes out.

    • I both loved and hated Charlie Brown. I WAS CB in my school, and the cartoons made me sad.

      Toy Story 3 was horrifying when all of the characters believed they were going to be burned to death. I never enjoyed that one.

      I have “Secret Life of Pets” on my radar, too. It looks adorable.

  2. I saw this for Father’s Day too actually. It was a sad movie to be sure, even if they shield us from the darker implications of the story. I didn’t like it as much as the first one but bravo to Pixar for putting the focus on disabilities with such compassion.

  3. Yes, yes, yes. (And there’s some extra this-may-not-be-right-for-you for those with foster or adopted children.) This movie didn’t pick up until the octopus arrived. And yikes, that long talky scene in the truck where if they had just shut up, they would have escaped in time …

  4. This is the second “I really wish I hadn’t gone to see this” Dory review I’ve read. (The other was a warning to parents of adopted and foster kids, that this might be a hard one for their kids to take. The author’s own adopted child had apparently gotten so sad, pretty early in the screening he asked her to hold him in her lap for the rest of the movie.)

    It’s very sad that they missed the mark so bad in this film. “First, do no harm” isn’t a guideline we expect companies like Disney to forget to follow in their storytelling.

  5. I have some Pixar movies I enjoy, but my problem with them is that they seem to thrive on emotional manipulation. Not that everything can or should be perfect, but it also doesn’t have to be so blatant that something horrible is going to happen to a character you’re made to fall in love with.

      • Good, but exhausting! I feel bad for neglecting my poor blog, but it’s hard to convince myself to go back on my computer after being on it all day. I just got back from an amazing vacation though, so that was nice. The puppy is going to turn three this winter, I can’t believe it!

              • Haha, he came with me. I kind of wish I could have brought the dog, but Amsterdam has a lot of bikes and she gets freaked out by them. On the other side, she’s also terrified of helmets and no one there wears them, so maybe she would have been okay!

                I vote to take the husband, otherwise you have to tip someone to carry your luggage around for you. 😉

  6. Pingback: Things I Would Rather Do That Re-Watch “Secret Life of Pets” | Becoming Cliche

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