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The Joy of Finding Dory

The Joy of Finding Dory

I anticipated loving “Finding Dory” because I thought “Finding Nemo” was wonderful. But I did not know how delighted I would actually be.

Portrayal of people with chronic illnesses in the media

I’ve written before about appreciating accurate and insightful portrayals of people living with illnesses or disabilities. They are few and far between, but I celebrate when they get it right because to me it feels so good to be recognized and included.

“Finding Dory” centers on a supporting character from “Finding Nemo.” Portrayed by Ellen Degeneres with cheery gusto, she is a blue fish with short-term memory problems. The plot starts when she remembers her long-lost parents and goes on a mission to find them.

Dory goes on an epic adventure to find her parents and somehow navigates dangers and challenges despite her disability. While some of the characters view her skeptically, either seeing her as annoying or incapable, she ultimately proves them all wrong.

The first movie portrayed Dory’s disability mainly as funny and sometimes irritating because she would have the same conversation multiple times, or forget what she had already done etc. But “Finding Dory” not only goes into more depth about her disability but how it affects her.

When Dory shares how hard she tries to remember, how hard she works to manage her limitations, and how disappointed she is in herself for her flaws, it is extremely moving. She cannot help who she is, yet she has experienced such loss because of it.

When fiction mirrors reality

I can totally relate to these feelings. I also cannot help having rheumatoid arthritis and have lost a lot of ability due to joint damage, struggle with fatigue, and sometimes blame myself when I know that it is largely out of my control no matter how hard I work to manage my illness.

When weakness becomes strength

For me, the most brilliant part of the film is when Marlin and Nemo (Dory’s adopted family) approach solving a problem by asking “what would Dory do?” And when they are reunited with her share how much of a positive impact she has had on them because she has accomplished so much due to embracing her unique viewpoint. In essence, Dory’s disability makes her more capable in some ways and not less.

Wow! Isn’t that empowering! And I absolutely adore this message!

There is so much truth here. Living with rheumatoid arthritis has made me a creative problem solver as well. It also has made me a strong, resilient person with an attitude focused on making the most of life with my RA, disability and all.

Sure, I have plenty of pain and limitations. It is a part of who I am, but it does not conquer me. Instead, it helps define me while I guide the path of my life.

Dory’s resilience is extraordinary and she doesn’t give up despite everyone telling her that her mission is impossible and all the barriers she encounters along the way. And her persistence is rewarded with the love of both of her families (birth and adopted).

Another beautiful aspect of the movie is how her families embrace who she is and support her. Her parents possess unwavering faith that Dory will return and find them. Marlin, Nemo, and others along the way accept (sometimes grudgingly!) her friendship and unique approach to life. The movie truly underscores how powerful love and acceptance can be.

Films like “Finding Dory” don’t come along every day with their powerful story, message, and lovable characters. But it is telling that it was one of the top-grossing movies from last year. Stories of illness, disability, and resilience have both heart and power.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    2 years ago

    I have felt like Dorey many times in my life. I love this movie as well. It rocks!!

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 years ago

    Yay! So glad that you like Dory too, Rick! 🙂 What a great pick-me-up kind of movie and such an encouraging character! Cheers, Kelly

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for writing Rick. Thought you might also be interested in this article Kelly did on why she (and I, as her husband for that matter) loves the show “Speechless.” In particular, we love how the character with the disability, J.J. isn’t a caricature of a person with a disability, but rather an actualized person striving for respect and a good life.

    Best, Richard ( Team)

  • Erin Rush moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for commenting, Lawrence! I often use Dory’s mantra for those challenging moments in life — just keep swimming! Really, it is pretty good advice for just about anything. Thanks for sharing. Best, Erin, Team Member.

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