Finding Nemo (2003) / Animation-Adventure
MPAA Rated: G for acceptable viewing by all audiences
Running time: 101 min.
Cast (voices): Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe,
Director: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds
Review published June 4, 2003
The group at Pixar continue the magic formula of putting out great looking family films with heart and inspiration in their latest crowd-pleaser, Finding Nemo. This is the fifth major motion picture release, and every one of them has been a top-shelf production, from Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monster's Inc. to today. Like most well-made children's films, today's best are tomorrow's classics, as Disney can attest to, who also co-produced this film. And like the best of them, this will appeal not just to children, but people of all ages.
Similar to the other Pixar films, there is a dire quest which takes the main characters, usually non-humans, and forces them outside of their normal realm on a quest. The quest in Finding Nemo, should be self-explanatory given the title, as Nemo is a baby clownfish who has been captured by deep sea divers sent to find aquarium tank pets. Marlin is Nemo's overprotective father, who will do anything to make sure nothing bad happens to his only surviving son, including traversing dangerous stretches of ocean to get to his ultimate destination of Sydney, Australia, where Nemo is one of many fish inhabiting a fish tank in a local dentist's office, and together they try escape plans of their own.
Although Finding Nemo is basically a pure entertainment kind of film, there are some life lessons to be learned along the way. For the adults, it's not to shelter your kids so much that they never experience life. For the kids, it's not to do foolish things out of sheer rebellion, because your parents are out to help you and keep you from harm's way. Thankfully, the themes, while easy to figure out, aren't delivered in such a way that the core story gets bogged down with morality lessons, or in a way that becomes preachy and insulting, the way so many other family films might.
The animation is the main attraction, with vibrant colors and exceptionally deep rendering. For computer-generated animation, the result is flawlessly smooth, which is even more amazing when you consider how many fish are on the screen at the same time. In addition, the sound effects and score are very well done, while the voice-work is as fine as can be, although I must admit, Ellen DeGeneres' voiced character of Dory becomes the "Jar Jar Binks" of the story for me, annoying with every attempt to become the comic relief. The story is simplistic, and although the quest between a parent and sibling to be reunited is quite common in family films, the manner in which is told is refreshingly original.
Finding Nemo is recommended for everyone, young and old, parents and children, and even adults without kids. It's another amazing animated experience that provides escapism without bullets or bloodshed, profanity or sexual content. It's yet more proof that when many come together to craft something with utmost quality in mind, big things can result. While they could easily skimp and still get maximum payoff, they didn't settle for anything less than the best it could be, and they should be applauded for doing so. Films as rich as Finding Nemo will last the test of time, entertaining moviegoers for generations to come.
A word of caution: you might want to safeguard the fish tank at home from the kids, or you find yourself wondering why you hear the toilet flushing repeatedly soon after watching the film.
©2003 Vince Leo