Finding Dory and Disability

I want Finding Dory to be good on disability so badly that I can’t even stand to go see it yet.

I want a kids’ movie that, without being badly written, sappy, too on point (like Zootopia on racism), or otherwise laden with all the sins of bad writing for children, fully embraces disability as culture and identity and diversity while telling a great story and captivating kids and adults alike.

That’s probably too much to ask.

Here’s the New York Times:

But in time-honored tradition, the movie also has lessons to impart. “Nemo” made the case for indomitability in the face of fear. “Dory” is more about the acceptance of chaos. Dory’s inability to make or stick to plans is shown, in the long run, to be an advantage. And her memory issues, played mostly for laughs in the first movie, take on a deeper meaning here. She and Nemo, who was born with a deformed flipper, are both people — well, actually, anthropomorphized fish, but you know what I mean — with disabilities, an identity shared by most of the new secondary characters.

In a way that is both emphatic and subtle, “Finding Dory” is a celebration of cognitive and physical differences. It argues, with lovely ingenuity and understatement, that what appear to be impairments might better be understood as strengths. The inclusiveness of the film’s vision is remarkable partly because it feels so natural, something that no adult will really need to explain. Children will get it, perhaps more intuitively and easily than the rest of us.

Please let this work.

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