What if an alien in the future stumbled upon Andrew Stanton’s Finding Dory? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
This week’s film:
Finding Dory (2016)
Stars: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill,
Director: Andrew Stanton
Production Co: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios
Written by: Ben Steiner
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Analysis by: Kevin Winzer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey (http://www.ryanhaileydotcom.com/)
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Produced by: Jacob S. Salamon
Finding Dory’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is Finding Dory, a sequel so necessary it only took Pixar 13 years to come up with an idea. Our protagonist is Dory, a fluorescent talking frisbee who lives in one of Earth’s seven billion oceans with her best friend, Nemo’s dad. Which ocean? Unfortunately, most human globes and placemats have been lost, so I can’t be any more Pacific than that. But probably the Atlantic. Speaking of information lapses, Dory has a bad memory, which is her defining and only character trait. Then suddenly for no reason at all she remembers her frisbee family. And even though this basic fact eluded her for years, she also remembers their exact address: on top of the neighbor’s roof.
Nemo’s dad and his son decide to go help Dory find them, but before you know it, Dory gets separated from the group and is captured by some college bros looking to play some Ultimate. The college bros work part-time at a marina because it’s a super chill place to just zone out and look at nature, you know? Soon Dory learns that the other frisbees are being taken to Cleveland. Which is the last thing anyone ever wants to hear. Except LeBron James, former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Offense. Meanwhile, Nemo’s dad and Nemo manage to get into the marina with the help of a mentally challenged eagle, a.k.a. the symbol of America. They finds Dory down in the pipes, because isn’t that where everything ends up? Maybe they could look for my wedding ring while they’re down there. The gang makes their way to the frisbee enclosure, but none of the other frisbees are named “Dory’s parents.”
An octopus that I forgot to mention earlier because he’s not that important comes to help out, but he sucks so bad at helping out that Dory gets dropped down the drain and Nemo and his dad are put on the truck to Cleveland. Which, again, tough break fellas. Back in the ocean, Dory comes across a trail of shells, and remembers that her parents used to be all about shell trails back in the day. It was like their version of pogs. Which were a 1990s Earth version of warp drive crystals. Dory follows the trail and yep, there are her parents, just waiting around for her this whole time, when logic and probability were screaming at them to move on with their lives.
But miraculously reuniting with her family isn’t enough for Dory. She also wants her friends not to get imprisoned! What a selfish bitch. She finagles her way onto the Cleveland truck, hijacks it, and crashes it into the water. And they all live happily ever after. Except the other drivers on that highway, who all died. Finding Dory explores what it means to live with a disability under Obamacare, which, more like Obama doesn’t care, am I right? We see the difficulties Dory has explaining her disability and interacting with normies. Nemo’s dad in particular gets frustrated with Dory’s inability to remember stuff good like he can good.
Occasionally, we see the cruelty that disabled individuals can experience, such as when the two sea lions bully a smaller, less anthropomorphic sea lion. But Dory is not the only disabled character. The octopus is missing an arm, this giant spotted seahorse is nearsighted, and this albino seahorse is a Woody-Allen-level hypochondriac. Just without all the uncomfortable baggage. Indeed, the overwhelming message is one of anti-institutionalization– that the differently-abled belong in society as much as the same-ly abled. When we first meet them, several characters have internalized the idea that they are less than, and are resigned to live out their days locked in a Marvel’s Luke Cage. The octopus is such an octopussy about reintegration that he prefers to be permanently institutionalized. Dory, who has crossed the ocean twice despite her goofed-up noodle, gives the animals confidence that they can function in everyday society. They unite behind her cause, and thereby find the courage to leave their hellhole paradise.
Another prevalent theme is the idea that one’s life is determined by destiny, which coincidentally is one of the character’s names. Not Dory. A different character. Acting on instinct is rewarded, because it allows destiny to take the wheel. Dory always acts on instinct because she is less able to evaluate decisions based on past experiences, except sometimes when you least expect it. While her impulsive actions appear dangerous, they always take her where a frisbee needs to go, which is a dog’s mouth. In comparison, Nemo’s dad overanalyzes everything, from what to wear in the morning to what sort of fish insurance to buy. He evaluates potential actions through the filter of his past traumas, most notably the plot of the first movie. When he tries to make calculated decisions, all he does is make it harder for destiny to run its course. It is only when Nemo’s dad follows Dory’s example that he is able to stop ruining everything for everyone.
Ultimately, however, it is not instinct, hard work, or even the power of positive thinking that leads to Dory’s success. It’s the power of good old-fashioned plot development. Dory is able to spontaneously overcome her disability for narrative purposes, such as when she sees a shell, triggering a detailed memory that fills in crucial parts of her backstory and advances her mission. Or the whole beginning. It seems the most powerful force in the Pixar universe is the need for a happy ending. Seems like a pretty good stopping point, no?
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid. Just keep clicking.