*minor spoilers ahead*
I read some reviews of Finding Dory, and none of them wrote about the real moral of the story that I saw in the film. So just like the deep sea, I’m going to take you to deeper surfaces to open your eyes to realizations (or even epiphanies) about what the moral of Finding Dory is all about.
The New York Times review of Finding Dory formed a conclusion that the moral of the story is about the acceptance of chaos. “Dory’s inability to make or stick to plans is shown, in the long run, to be an advantage,” A.O. Scott writes.
The Roger Ebert review by Susan Wloszczyna takes on another direction and describes that although Dory is looking for her parents, she is also finding her own identity, as she recalls (with the audience realizing alongside her) how she learned to speak whale and the root of her motto, “just keep swimming”; or in other words, things that make her who she is. Wloszczyna called Dory “forgetful but fearless”, pointing out that Dory’s handicap of short-term memory loss does not get the best of her. They gave it a 3/4 stars rating.
I agree with what they’ve written. I just don’t think they got the point.
It’s true that Finding Dory has lessons including acceptance of chaos and acting in the moment, diversity in terms of disabilities/”handicaps” (Dory’s memory, Destiny’s nearsightedness, and Bailey’s malfunctioning echo to name a few), and finding one’s identity.
But I picked up something else. Most likely because I related to it.
You see, ladies and gentleman, the moral of Finding Dory is about that thing that impacts your life on a whole other level, more than anything else in the world.
And that thing is called optimism.
If you look at Dory now with that revelation, you’ll realize that her entire anatomy is defined by her optimism… and you might want to smack yourself and think, “It’s so obvious! Why didn’t I see it before?!”
One of our favorite motivational mottos, “Just keep swimming”, which Dory first mentions in Finding Nemo, pushes every one of us to keep going, no matter what’s getting between us and our goal.
In Finding Dory, Dory and Hank are stuck in an aquarium where kids can get there hands on sea creatures. Hank and Dory find a hiding place under a rock, but he panics and exclaims to her, “I’m never getting out of here!” She then tells him to “Just keep swimming”.
What happens next? It got them out of there.
We get a new motto in Finding Dory too, with the help of Charlie, Dory’s dad. “There’s always a way,” he teaches little Dory. Fast-forward towards the end of the film where Hank and Dory (and Becky) are stuck in a truck because the crew locked the door from the outside. Hank (panicking yet again) says, “There’s no other way!” to what Dory counters, “There’s always a way!”
What happens next? They find an opening on the roof of the truck and they get out.
On another point of view of the story with Marlin and Nemo, the father-and-son are stuck in a gift shop aquarium while looking for Dory in the theme park. Marlin tries to call out Becky to get them out of there, and Nemo thinks it’s not good enough (or rather, not crazy enough). He raises the question, “What would Dory do?” Marlin answers something like “Evaluate the situation, analyze, weigh the pros and cons…” and he comes to a stop, “Wait, no, that’s me.” Then finally finds the right answer: “She wouldn’t think twice.”
What happens next? They find a crazy way out, but they got out anyway.
Speaking of crazy, there is a scene where Hank tells Dory, “I have a plan, but it’s crazy,” to which Dory replies immediately, “I’m okay with crazy!” so they go with the plan anyway and they manage to be all right.
In the end, Dory sees how far she has gone and what she is actually capable of.
Okay, so what is the message I’m trying to come across here?
Optimists always get things done, achieve so much, and get so far…
because they’re crazy enough to take risks while the others are always focused on what’s standing between them and their goal.
More often than not, a lot of people immediately react to situations. Optimists like Dory immediately act, because they always see a way, and they couldn’t care less about how crazy the path to their destination looks–as long as they’re getting somewhere.
Bottom line is, Dory fulfilled her goal because she put her mind to it. That’s all there is to it. Because
that’s what sets optimists apart from the rest of the crowd. They just believe that they can, and they don’t think twice.
Because thinking twice means there are doubts. And doubts hinder you from achieving your goal because you believe less in yourself.
If you take note of the ending, Dory is surprised herself of what she’s actually capable of. That, my friends, is the magic of optimism: you don’t even have to be good at everything to fulfill your goal, your state of mind just has to have the discipline to stay positive, your heart will follow, and your body will act on it. Before you know it, you’ve had already achieved a number of things you never thought you could ever do in your entire life.
The moral of the story destroys the misconception that optimists are always wrong and don’t do things the right way because their ideas are crazy; that they don’t know how to analyze the situation, they’re unrealistic, they have their heads on the clouds, and they’re not aware of the consequences of the risks they take.
So this movie will definitely make you want to be just like them, because you’ll see just how far you can actually go with a [crazy] positive outlook in life.
One more very important thing:
Dory’s “short term remember-y loss” makes her look like she doesn’t have a plan because she just forgets whatever she planned anyway. But it proves us that you don’t have to have it all figured out and layed out like a blueprint step-by-step execution plan to achieve your goal.
You don’t have to know the specifics on how to fulfill your dreams.
You just have to want it as badly as Dory’s drive, and you’ll get to where you want to go.