Saturday, April 9, 2016

Pixar Positivity: 'Finding Dory' To Explore Dory's Disability

It looks like Finding Dory truly is going to be a grand Pixar sequel...

Peter Sciretta of /Film - along with many others - saw 30 minutes of the film, as an event was held at the institute where a bulk of the film takes place in - The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Then he got to interview director Andrew Stanton and producer Linsday Collins. He described the film's first 13 minutes as "unexpected, dark, emotional and so very compelling"... Whooooaaaaa.

Not surprising at the same time, though, considering that Finding Nemo's first five minutes go from light and colorful to dark, frightening, and heartbreaking without fuss. Even more interesting, Sciretta went on to say that Finding Dory will be about Dory coming to terms with her short-term memory loss, to "embrace" what she considers a flaw.

Stanton says...

"I never think of it as a disability, so even though that’s the perfect word for it. I just saw it as… It’s just her uniqueness, right? And she sees it as a flaw, as something she has to compensate for. It’s something that she doesn’t trust, that she thinks is gonna cause problems for herself. It’s probably why she became super fish at being friendly and helpful and humorous and insightful. It’s all these things that will make somebody not ditch her because she doesn’t trust that her short term memory loss will betray her. Either she’ll drop, she’ll lose somebody or they’ll be sick of her.

And I knew that was how she was made up from the day I came up with her. And that’s why I always saw her as tragic. But her skill set, her armor is so arresting. And so caretaking and so like everybody loves her. And of course she’s gonna be great at that. So that you won’t ditch her. And she won’t be alone again. And I didn’t want her to feel like that on the inside. I wanted her to, like, recognize and love what everybody else loves about her. Everybody still thinks about her, even after the movie 10 years. But I knew deep down she didn’t believe that deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep down. And I feel like most people have something about themselves that they see as a big flaw and that they’ve never been able to change about themselves. And I think the key is not often that you can conquer it, that you can get rid of it, but it was more as a how do you conquer it?

How do you own it? How do you turn that into an asset? And I think that’s a very universal thing. And it works for disabilities. It works for handicaps, but it also works for just how you see yourself as imperfect. And that I liked. And that naturally came from just trying to deal with Dory. For trying to make her a main character. I mean, she wasn’t built to be a main character. She was built to just support somebody else. And a main character’s a very different role. And so they worked hand in hand for each other."

Okay... First off... I'm there opening day. Right off the bat, this movie is going to seriously click with me, as someone with a disability.

Now on a very related note, I want to talk about Zootopia for a minute. I didn't quite dive into one particular aspect of Disney Animation's recent animated powerhouse that happened to really click with me. Spoilers for anyone who didn't see the film yet, Zootopia is set in a world where wild animals evolved into human-like animals, building civilizations like the titular city. However, many prey animals still hold firm biases against predatory animals, thinking them untrustworthy among other things. It runs deep in them. Halfway through the film, aspiring rabbit cop Judy Hopps is knee-deep in a missing mammal case that turns out to be a massive conspiracy. Judy and her con artist fox partner Nick Wilde find out that the missing mammals are predatory animals, who are reverting back to their old ways, going after prey like they did in that world's stone age.

Before Judy and Nick find out what's making this happen, Judy is set to make a speech after she has found all of the missing mammals in a hidden facility. Judy only goes by her own flawed worldview and the press hammering her, she goes and insinuates that the predatory animals still have that killer streak within them. She single-handedly stigmatizes an entire type of animal, 10% of Zootopia's population no less, and gets people to fear them. Even worse, she's doing an anti-carnivore's dirty work and she doesn't even know it!

This gave me flashbacks to 2012, when the Aurora theater shooting happened. Some media outlets pinned the shooter's motivations on autism and/or Asperger's (which is what I have). The media single-handedly insinuated that people with autism, Asperger's, or a mental illness are likely to shoot up places and commit heinous acts of violence. They did the same thing when the Sandy Hook shooting happened, and I saw people on social media platforms taking that as fact! I was devastated, and did everything I could to break the stigmas. It wasn't fear at all to people like me, and the whole sequence in Zootopia where Judy does just that to predatory animals at the press conference really hit home with me. It's the film greatest moment, I believe.

... And now Pixar's big film this year is going to hit me in a similar way. This makes me incredibly happy...

Stanton went on to talk about Dory's inner-sadness...

"To me it was hidden. It was never added. And not to like pounce on the word, but to me it was under the hood the whole time. And I realized that the audience must have sensed it or else they wouldn’t have been accepting of this character two-thirds of the way into Nemo suddenly crying and saying don’t leave me when we did nothing to set that up. Yet everybody accepts it. It’s because unconsciously you go, there’s no way somebody with short term memory loss could be wandering the ocean and be happy. And I don’t care if nobody ever had that thought, you felt it. Just like you sensed it when you meet a stranger and you don’t know anything about them. But yet you sense something. And so I knew that like, oh, that’s there and I knew everybody else senses it’s there, but what I made the mistake of is I assumed that everybody really consciously thought of that. And so it took me about a year or two in and things weren’t working and getting angry and suddenly realizing, oh my gosh."

Dory was not a typical comic relief sidekick in Finding Nemo, and I think this sums up why. I noticed it years ago, just watch the scene where Marlin, thinking his son is dead, intends to leave her. The monologue she delivers shows that there is much more to her than just "Oh I forgot! I remembered!"

Having the whole sequel be about her never really worried me. Over the years I've seen comments like "But remember when you made the side character the main protagonist, Pixar? We got Cars 2!" Dory is not Mater. Mater is much more comic relief/silly sidekick than Dory is, but even then there is some heart to that character, in that he wants a best friend and is loyal. Dory on the other hand... We'll be exploring her family, where she came from, and now we know that she'll be coming to terms with who she is. "Finding" Dory indeed!

If that doesn't sound Toy Story 2-esque, I don't know what does. That sequel explored Woody's background, the show he was part of, the Round-Up gang, and then... What it means to be a toy, and accepting the fact that owners will grow up and possibly grow out playing with them. Toy Story 3 as expected built on all of that.

I've been saying for a long while that Finding Dory has the potential to be the next Toy Story 2. Now I like Cars 2 as a fun little blockbuster and I think Monsters University is a legitimately good film, but I feel that this is the first Pixar sequel (not counting threequel Toy Story 3) that truly offers the studio a lot to work with. With Cars 2, they were in a bit of a pickle, they had to continue the story without some of the heart of the first picture (Paul Newman) while having to rush it - I don't think that race would have had any winners.

With Monsters U, they had a prequel. We knew how it would end, so they could only do so much to keep it fresh... But this? With a sequel - not a prequel - they have an all-new adventure with an outcome that isn't as predictable, plus twists and turns we may not see coming. We knew in Monsters U that despite everything, Mike and Sulley would become the best of friends at the very end. Someone like me doesn't care about that, I care about the "how?" part. What makes these two that dislike each other become friends in the end? Finding Dory is different from Cars 2 in that it had plenty of time to stew, the original director is and has been behind it from the start, and it looks to be about something. Cars 2 is simply an action picture with little to say.

With all of that, Finding Dory sounds great, and going by what's being said and what we've seen so far, it looks like this will be one heck of a sequel. Let's also not forget that this is not rehashing the original in any way, no one is taken and no one has to be searched for. Pixar sequels, whether you love or hate them, don't try to recreate the originals - they try to capture what made them work, whilst telling all new stories that aren't carbon copies of their predecessor.

The rest of /Film's article goes on to detail the film's development and production journey, revealing the usual cool stuff.

Anyways, I'm beyond excited. On top of being a Pixar sequel that has the - again - potential to do something really cool, I'm really, truly happy that they'll be exploring how Dory views her disability and how she learns to embrace it. To see animation - let alone mainstream animation - explore disabilities and things some of us have is completely satisfying on a personal level. Animation has always explored ideas like these, but it's great to see that the medium can still dive into these waters.

1 comment:

  1. Yes !! If turn out to be exellent (wich will happeb) internet will stop compeling about the Pixar future sequels and say "oh, well now we think that toy story 4 could be good, but not cars 3 (because hatters gonna hate) but we always said that Incredibles 2 will be good we never hate that movie"
    Btw: I think that the incredibles 2 will be called Incredibles 2 with out the "THE" the Pixar site discribe it like that and brad bird to