Home Year 2003 Finding Nemo (2003)

Finding Nemo (2003)

He didn't take kindly to their mocking nature.
He didn’t take kindly to their mocking nature.

Twitter Plot Summary: After his son Nemo is “kidnapped” by a reef diver, clown fish Marlin joins up with forgetful Dory on a quest to rescue him.

Five Point Summary:

1. Oh noes! He ‘s been taken away.
2. Dentists. Scary on many levels.
3. Mine?!
4. “Jump into my mouth if you want to live.”
5. Teamwork saves the day.

Finding Nemo is a delight, let me make that clear from the very start. Rife with beautiful imagery and a compelling use of the oceans around the Australian coast, it’s a story that brings together all of the key elements of what makes Pixar’s movies so great: good story, fun characters and impeccable animation. After his son Nemo is taken away by a human diver, clown fish Marlin goes on a quest to find him, aided by the dumb but loveable Dory. On this magical journey through the underwater kingdom he encounters everything from sharks to jellyfish to whales, with an added dose of turtles, crabs and seagulls for good measure. As he progresses with his journey, Marlin learns the value of friendship, teamwork and that being over-protective is almost as bad as not bothering at all.

The titular Nemo has slightly less to do than is implied – he spends the majority of the film in a fish tank in the care of a dentist, but he’s surrounded by an eclectic group of tropical fish, all of whom have basic but clearly defined personalities and foibles. In fact Nemo’s portion of the story is a reinterpretation of The Great Escape, with the fish inside the tank plotting an escape into the ocean and seeing Nemo’s arrival as the perfect opportunity to do so. It’s a huge list of characters when you think about it, but it all just works, and that’s a testament to both the script by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds, and the direction by Stanton again and Lee Unkrich. Of course, the story is dominated by Marlin, played by Albert Brooks, and his budding friendship with Dory as performed by Ellen DeGeneres. They’re an odd couple from the start, Marlin initially irritated by Dory’s dimwitted behaviour but ultimately, much like the audience, being won over by it.

A fish tank. Lucky they haven't all decided to eat each other.
A fish tank. Lucky they haven’t all decided to eat each other.

The real star though is the undersea world which we’re privileged to visit. Colours are vibrant and you actually learn something about how the system works down there without really noticing it until afterwards. Ignoring the cartoon-styled fish that naturally have to show up here and there, you could easily believe that you’re looking at photos of the ocean that have had fish superimposed over, and puts other sub-aquatic kids fodder such as Shark Tale to shame.

In a script that zings with fun characters (the shark rehabilitation group is a particular highlight), cracking jokes and its fair share of thrilling moments, a shout out has to be made for the birds and crabs of the Finding Nemo universe. The crabs are ornery types, territorial and prone to warning off anybody else that gets to close to them with a click of their claws. Then there’s the seagulls, who can only say “Mine!” in a variety of tones. Genuinely, these moments are a joy to watch and plug what could have potentially been slower and less compelling moments.

At its core it’s a film about not smothering your children (not like that), by not over-protecting them and letting them find their own way in life, make their own mistakes. It’s understandable however why Marlin is as over-protective as he is, seeing as his wife and all their other eggs were eaten by a sturgeon in the film’s opening five minutes – anyone who has seen Up will never accuse Pixar of mollycoddling its audience. In the finest Disney tradition, everybody learns a lesson by the finale and, perhaps more importantly, no princesses had to be harmed in the process.

Score: 5/5

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