Finding Dory

Thanks to Emily McDonald for sponsoring this review!


Finding Dory
Rating: PG
Run Time: 97 minutes
Released: 2016
Director: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane

Cultural Rating: pawpawpaw

This film focuses on different life experiences, both positive and negative, involving an invisible disability. Additionally, the film emphasizes the importance of friendship and family.

Summary: Dory, a blue tang fish, is on a quest to find her mother and father as she deals with the daily challenges of short-term memory loss.


Language: poo

  • Threatening language-“suck it”
  • Demeaning language-At one point in the film, a character tells Dory that forgetting is what she does best.

Violence: poopoo

  • A few scary scenes-For example, main characters are threatened by a large octopus.
  • A truck falls off of a cliff into the ocean.
  • Bullying-At several points throughout the film, two sea lions verbally bully a sea lion who looks and acts differently from them.

Sex: 0 poo(s)

Drugs and Alcohol: 0 poo(s)

Cultural Analysis



  • The sea animals are gendered but do not appear to adhere to traditional gender roles regarding femininity and masculinity. For example, Dory, who has feminine signifiers, is active and independent throughout the film. Dory, with the help of friends along the way, finds her parents by venturing out into unfamiliar places often by herself. Also, she “saves the day” on multiple occasions.

Race: N/A

 Sexual Orientation: N/A


  • Disability is one of the major themes throughout the film. Dory, the main character in the film, is affected by short-term memory loss (an invisible disability), which causes her to have difficulty forming new memories and recalling old memories. The disability is depicted in a complex way; this is significant as characters with disabilities are often one dimensional or depicted as “bad” in popular media. For example, Dory’s daily challenges of dealing with short-term memory loss are regularly shown as she has difficulty with directions and often loses her train of thought. This is frustrating and scary for Dory and those around her. In the beginning of the film, Dory regularly apologizes for her disability as she is aware that it is a nuisance to others, even though she is unable to control her short-term memory loss. While Dory’s challenges are portrayed throughout the film, Dory’s value as a friend and all around caring and brave fish are also emphasized. The film seems to suggest that Dory’s disability is certainly an aspect of who she is as it affects her daily functioning and well-being; however, Dory is not defined by her disability.
  • It is also important to note that other characters in the film deal with physical and/or cognitive difficulties that affect daily functioning. For example, Nemo (clown fish) has a small fin, and Destiny (whale shark) is nearsighted. These characters are not depicted in a negative manner and are capable and helpful friends.


  • Some characters who look “different” than their fellow sea animals are bullied and/or depicted as unintelligent. For example, Gerald the sea lion, who has a unibrow, protruding eyes, and who is silent throughout the film, is bullied by two sea lions. The two sea lions refuse to share their rock with Gerald and often taunt and yell at him while Gerald stares blankly at them. Gerald is used for laughs, and this makes light of the bullying that occurs in the film.



Gender: N/A

Race: N/A

Sexual Orientation: N/A

Disability: N/A

Body: N/A


Suggested talking points:

  • Throughout the film, Dory is often ignored by other sea animals as a result of her invisible disability. Many fellow sea creatures are dismissive of Dory (even as a young fish) when she asks for help because she has difficulty explaining her situation. It is important to be patient with others as disability is not always readily apparent.
  • An important theme in the film is family. However, the film suggests that friends can also be family as there are many different types of family structures in society (two mothers; one guardian and two children; one father and one child, etc.). For example, although Dory is not related to Nemo or Marlin, Dory is a part of their family and they are a part of her family. According to the film, family is anyone who cares for and appreciates you.
  • Loss is a major theme in the film. Dory suffers from both memory loss and the loss of her parents at a young age. The film suggests that although loss can be difficult in life, family and friends can help us cope with it along the way.
  • Littering is briefly addressed in the film. At one point, Dory gets caught in a plastic six-pack beverage holder. What would have happened if Dory were caught in the plastic for good? This is an opportunity to discuss the detrimental effects of marine pollution. For more information on marine pollution, click here.

movie review, family, disability, invisible disability, finding dory,

Share your thoughts

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s