Finding Nemo (2003)
Directed by: Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich
Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe
Anticipation: 8/10. It has been such a long time since I watched ‘Finding Nemo’. I remember when I first watched it, and I immediately fell in love with it. I watched it twice in theaters, bought it on DVD and blu-ray, etc. However, it’s not a 10/10 here because I was afraid that with technological advances, Finding Nemo just would not hold up.
Final Verdict: 8/10. Ok ok, so it holds up! I have been accused, more than once, on my podcast, Pop Culture Case Study, of not taking animated films “seriously enough.” Yes, I do think animated films can be great, but doesn’t it depend on your audience? This is clearly a movie made for kids (although it definitely does push the envelope of darkness) and as a kid’s movie, it’s a 10/10 no question. But for me, a grown man? It’s still an 8, and that’s pretty damn good.
‘Finding Nemo’ is the story of a clown fish, Marlin, on the search for his lost son, and really that’s pretty much it. Sure, lots of adventures along the way and you get to see his son, Nemo, and his predicament, but it really is just an adventure through the ocean to find his son. The voice cast, which is fantastic, includes Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Defoe, Allison Janney, and Geoffrey Rush, just to name a few.
There is a lot to like here. A children’s story that teaches some really important lessons. Taking risks is ok. As parents, you have to learn to let go, just a little bit. You can do more than you think, even if you have physical or mental limitations. Simply put, I am really glad that this movie exists for kids to see. The animation is also spectacular. We take this for granted with Pixar now, but this was the first time animators managed to create a water environment that did not appear completely and hopelessly false.
There really is not much of a false note in the script. Sure there is a lot of repetition of the main mission of the film, but again, it’s a movie for all ages, so I think that can be forgiven. Even the minor characters, such as the sharks, Crush the turtle, and the other fish trapped in the dentist office with Nemo are memorable and eminently quotable. Probably the most famous character in the film comes in the form of Dory, our forgetful sidekick. As a note, in both this and the sequel, ‘Finding Dory’, Pixar does a tremendous job of representing anterograde amnesia. Yes, that is a real thing! And just like ‘Inside Out’, the writers did their research and integrated it into the character. I may get some hate for this, but I do find, on rewatch, Dory does get the tiniest bit tiresome. Maybe I’m just a little grumpy. What can I say, I’m more Marlin than Nemo!
Probably the highest compliment I can pay the movie is that although it is more than 100 minutes long (a shade on the lengthy side for a cartoon), you never feel that length. The movie zips along at a quick pace, you feel for the characters, and you really get the message of the film hammered home.
Yes, I fully recommend this movie. It is a good one, and palatable for all ages. It definitely stands up to rewatch and is quite frankly, a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. There may be better made Pixar films from a technical standpoint, but Finding Nemo remains one of my favorites!