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When Pixar makes a movie, it's never the first draft that winds up being converted into a feature film. Instead, all of the scripts go through an extremely rigorous build-up and break-down process that allows for a lot of input from creative voices and assures that the film being made is the best possible version. Finding Dory is yet another example of this, and as a result left a number of big ideas on the floor during the production process. One example of this is that Dory's parents were originally going to suffer from the same memory condition as their daughter -- but that idea was eventually abandoned for just being too annoying.
I had the pleasure of recently talking with director Andrew Stanton at length about his new film, and early in our conversation I asked about the aforementioned production process and the details that wound up not making it into the final cut of Finding Dory. The one that the filmmaker highlighted was the idea of short-term memory loss actually runs in the titular fish's family, as it was an idea that the creatives worked on for a long time -- but it was something they ultimately had to drop from their approach. Said Stanton,
She has this line in the first movie, she says, 'I suffer from short-term memory loss. It runs in my family. At least, I think it does.' And I spent the first year and half, maybe two, with my writer, Victoria Strouse, trying to make parents with short-term memory loss work - and I don't recommend it, because it's annoying to have three people with short-term memory loss try to talk to each other. It's not funny for that long. It's annoying very quickly. It was a problem, and so we abandoned that.
Considering that some already complain that Dory's short-term memory shtick gets old in Finding Nemo, it's probably for the best that Andrew Stanton and his team didn't move forward with this idea. After all, it's pretty hard to move a scene forward when everyone involved completely loses track of what's going on about 10 seconds after certain decisions are made. At the end of the day, it seems like it was a good plot detail to cut.
That's obviously a very big example of something that changed while Finding Dory was in production, and there are surely many other plot and character details Andrew Stanton could have revealed as well. What the director also revealed to me, though, is that there were key elements that stuck around throughout the entire process. Specifically, he always knew he wanted the movie to be about Dory finding her parents, and he also felt it was important that she "resolve her feelings about herself."
What do you think? Do you believe that Dory's parents having short-term memory loss could have been a fun idea, or do you think it's best that it was abandoned? Hit the comments section with your thoughts, and see Finding Dory in theaters this Friday, June 17th!