Australian Council on Children and the Media

Finding Dory

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Not recommended under 6, parental guidance recommended 6-8, due to scary scenes and themes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Finding Dory
  • a review of Finding Dory completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 June 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not recommended due to scary scenes and themes
Children aged 6 to 8 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and themes.
Children aged 8 and over OK for this age group, but themes that parents may wish to discuss

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Finding Dory
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Some scenes may scare young children
Length 113 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Finding Dory takes us back to the colourful under-sea world of the film Finding Nemo. It tells the story of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a Pacific Regal Blue Tang fish with short-term memory loss, how she came to lose her family and her exciting adventure to find them.

Dory is happy living with her friend Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in a safe community on the Great Barrier Reef. Although she has short-term memory loss, she sometimes remembers snippets of life with her mother and father. One day, when out on a school excursion, Dory is swept away by a swift current and is thrown to the ground. The fall jolts her memory and she remembers where her mother and father live. She immediately convinces Marlin and Nemo to accompany her in the search for her long lost family.

The search brings them to the Monterey Marine Life Institute in California. They become separated and whilst Dory is busy trying to find her parents, Nemo and Marlin try to find Dory. Her new friends, Hank the octopus (Ed O'Neill), Destiny the whale shark (Kaitlin Olson) and Bailey (Ty Burrell) a Beluga whale, help Dory in her search.

As Dory's memories about her past and the separation from her parents return to her, she uses her memories and her instincts to find her mother and father. She must then try to reunite with Marlin and Nemo and she enlists the help of her parents and her new friends.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Separation from family and loss of loved ones; death; living with a disability or something that makes you different; dealing with traumatic events or memories from the past; trusting your instincts

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Finding Dory includes some scenes of slapstick violence as well as scenes where sea creatures are threatened by either larger predators or humans. Examples include:

  • A large predatory octopus chases Nemo, Marlin and Dory down into the deep sea, capturing Nemo in its tentacles.
  • Destiny, the whale shark, is far sighted and repeatedly bumps into objects and walls.
  • Hank, the octopus, knocks over a small child with a pushchair.
  • When Hank and Dory accidentally find themselves in the kid's 'touching pool', there is an underwater scene of terrified sea creatures being grabbed and poked by children's hands.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are several scenes in which Dory and her friends find themselves in dark, murky or unclean water. This is accompanied by ominous music and creates a very scary atmosphere.
  • Hank the octopus, although he is friendly, can sometimes come across as a bit aggressive, cross and grumpy, which might be slightly confusing for young children.
  • Dory jumps into a bucket of dead fish. She thinks they are pretending to be dead.
  • Dory believes that she has finally found her home but it is empty and her parents are no longer there. This is accompanied by sad music.
  • Dory remembers being sucked by a current into a dark pipe, where she is swept away from her family. She is deeply disturbed by this memory and it is an emotionally distressing scene.
  • Dory must enter a dark pipe in order to find her parents; she does it even though she is very scared.
  • A scene where Dory is swimming through a dark pipe and is worried that she might get lost or attacked. This is quickly resolved.
  • When Dory finds some other fish like her and hopes that she has finally found her parents, they tell her that they think her parents might be dead. This is a very emotionally distressing scene. Dory is thrown into panic and we see the world through her eyes; her vision is distorted and the world is transformed into a scary place.
  • Hank hijacks a truck that is transporting sea creatures. The scenes of him driving a truck very dangerously the wrong way along a busy road before driving the truck off the edge of a cliff into the sea could disturb some children. The truck going into the sea harms no one and the creatures inside the truck are happy to be released into the wild.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and may wish to discuss some of the themes presented in the film.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children of this age are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film but may wish to discuss the themes in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern in this film, however there is a lot of associated merchandise available

Sexual references

One mild sexual reference:

  • Dory is acting as a teaching assistant and for a brief moment she expresses surprise that she might need to be giving the school children (fish) a talk about reproduction. This is suggested subtly and young children would not be likely to understand the meaning of the dialogue. It is more directed at adult audience members.

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

There is some mild teasing in this film, but it doesn't include name-calling, and there are some substitute swear words, but  these are unlikely to be imitated by small children

In a nutshell

Finding Dory is a beautiful animated adventure film with some powerful positive messages to discuss with children. It is entertaining and fun for adults as well as children. There are, however, themes of parental loss and separation and some scary scenes which younger children may find very frightening. It is not recommended for under 6s with parental guidance recommended for children aged 6 to 8. Parents may also wish to discuss some of the film’s themes with over 8s.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • People who live with disability have the strength to overcome difficulties and follow their dreams
  • The importance of friends and family.
  • The ability to bravely face up to past fears and overcome them.
  • Trusting in your own intuition.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • self-belief and determination
  • loyalty and friendship
  • bravery

Parents may also wish to discuss how animals are treated in captivity and what the film says about this.

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