Warning: This article contains spoilers for Finding Dory. Read at your own risk.
While Disney or Pixar movies all have happy endings, that doesn’t mean these films doesn’t come with their own share of deaths. We saw that in old films like Lion King, in Land Before Time, in Bambi, and in new ones like Up. Even in the prequel to Finding Dory, we were treated to a devastating death of Nemo’s mom in Finding Nemo, which director Andrew Stanton previously explained was essential to the plot.
We had a taste of that in Finding Dory as well – almost. There’s a scene in the Disney Pixar movie where audiences (I did as well) must have thought Dory’s parents were dead. As it turns out, Eugene Levy's Charlie and Diane Keaton's Jenny are alive. They are simply collecting shells near the Marine Life Institute, waiting to be reunited with their forgetful daughter. They do of course. Despite her short-term memory issues, Dory is able to find her parents. Apparently though, that moment when audiences thought Dory’s parents are dead could have truly been the end of for the characters. However, the idea didn’t push through.
In an interview with Cinema Blend during the Finding Dory press day in Los Angeles earlier this month,, director Andrew Stanton explained why he and screenwriter Victoria Strouse decided to scrap the idea.
My writer, Victoria, really wanted that for like a hot minute and I was like, 'We can't.' And then it forced us to go, 'Well, listen, what we're really enjoying and we're really thinking is great for the character's arc is truly making her feel alone. You can't bring her to a lower point in her life, where you put her back into the ocean by herself, forgetting everything and emotionally knowing there's nobody to go back to. That is the lowest.
Killing her parents off would undoubtedly be devastating for Dory of she traveled across the ocean just to find nothing. For this reason, and since Stanton really wanted the idea, he and Strouse came up with a better solution, and that’s what audiences saw in theaters. He said:
So I couldn't argue with her that this was a great thing to do - but it's like, 'We've got to find a way out.' This was early on, so it led us to how they would be found and how that would all be - the track would be laid for that. It just gave us one of the best endings we never intended.
Personally, I liked all the turnarounds in the movie just the way they are. I have to say, the creators have done brilliantly at creating a balance between loss and hope. If they pursued the plot of killing Dory’s parents, it would have been devastation to Dory and the audience, and it’s disconcerting for a family movie to feature something so seemingly hopeless such as that. Clearly, the ending worked, which is why the movie is now breaking records at the box office.
What do you think of this plot twist?