Finding Nemo


Albert Brooks as Marlin
Ellen DeGeneres as Dory
Alexander Gould as Nemo
Willem Dafoe as Gill
Barry Humphries as Bruce
Eric Bana as Anchor
Erica Beck as Pearl
Brad Garrett as Bloat
Allison Janney as Peach
Vicki Lewis as Deb/Flo
Austin Pendleton as Gurgle
John Ratzenberger as Moonfish
Stephen Root as Bubbles
Geoffrey Rush as Nigel
Andrew Stanton as Crush
Erik Per Sullivan as Sheldon

Fantastic animation, a great cast, and hilarious laughs make Finding Nemo a must see movie for the summer.

Marlin is a clown fish living in the Great Barrier Reef off of Australia. After having lost his wife and most of his kids in a barracuda attack, he’s extremely protective of his only surviving son, Nemo. Nemo and Marlin love each other, but Nemo has been frustrated by his father’s overprotectiveness. Unfortunately, when Nemo defies his father and sneaks off on his own, he’s caught by a diver. Nemo is taken as a pet fish and placed in a dentist office aquarium in Sydney with a variety of other fish. Led by Gill, the aquarium fish are trying to make their own escape.

Meanwhile, Marlin desperately chases after his son, but soon loses him. Dory, a fish with a short-term memory problem, helps him try to find Nemo. Thanks to left behind clues, they know where he is. The only problem is getting to him. Together they face the dangers of the ocean including sharks, jellyfish, fishermen, seagulls and more in order to rescue him. However, Marlin can only find his son if he learns to let go and trust the friends he meets along the way.

Finding Nemo is rated G.

What Worked:
I’m a big fan of Pixar’s films, so I was greatly relieved to see that Finding Nemo was not a stinker. After a long string of hits, they are definitely due for a bomb, but this isn’t it. If I had to rank it among the other Pixar films, I’d place it on par with Monsters Inc. (Toy Story 2 remains my favorite.)

What really makes Finding Nemo unique is the whole fishy setting. The backgrounds are stunning and filled with life and motion. The characters are bizarre, beautiful, eccentric, cute, scary, and amusing. You get a real sense of discovery watching the film. It seems like an alien world, but it’s all very based in reality. The beauty of the marine environment makes the sterile dentist office and aquarium all the more unappealing. The stunning animation by Pixar really brings it all to life. While I didn’t like the murky look of the ocean at first, it did end up standing out in stark contrast to the crystal clear aquarium of the office. The lighting, texture, and detail on all the characters is amazing, even when they’re caught out of water.

I’ve always loved the ocean and sea creatures. I’ve even kept a saltwater tank with a clown fish and anemone. Based on that familiarity, I think I was even more open to the sea life jokes than others might be. The seagulls, hated by many, are a reoccurring joke through the film as they annoyingly squawk, “Mine!” A group of sharks, led by a Great White named Bruce (and voiced by the guy that is Dame Edna), form a support group for those addicted to eating fish. Some of their side comments are really hilarious and culminate with a feeding frenzy to make Jaws proud. A shrimp maniacally cleans the scum out of a tank while children tapping on the glass terrorize other fish. You also learn that life in an aquarium either drives fish insane or teaches them a lot about dentistry (just in case you ever wondered what they thought about while floating around watching you). It’s all really amusing, and if you know any marine biologists, they’re going to get a real kick out of this film.

Not all of the jokes are about the sea, though. There are some funny jokes about dentists in the movie, surfer lingo, and more. There’s even a fantastic chase sequence between Nigel the pelican and a group of the annoying seagulls. It culminates with a hilarious fight scene in the dentist’s office.

The cast is fantastic. Albert Brooks is perfectly cast as Marlin. His frantic behavior is perfectly captured by Brooks. Ellen DeGeneres is great as the absent minded Dory. While I’m no fan of DeGeneres, I can’t think of anyone better than her to play the character. Willem Dafoe is good as Gill, another fish taken from the sea and raised in an aquarium. His drive to escape is made believable by Dafoe. Barry Humphries is funny as Bruce, the Great White shark. I had no idea this was the same guy that acts as Dame Edna. Hulk fans may be interested to note that Eric Bana plays Anchor, one of his shark support group members. Brad Garrett returns to a Pixar role as Bloat and John Ratzenberger keeps his role as the Pixar good luck charm, this time as a school of Moonfish. Geoffrey Rush is also hilarious as Nigel, the pelican who seems to have a problem spotting windows. Together, they all make this a fun film and they really bring their characters to life.

On a side note, keep an eye out for the traditional Pixar Easter Eggs through the film. You’ll spot Buzz Lightyear in one scene, Mike from Monsters Inc. during the credits, and references to Psycho and The Shining. Also, be sure to stay through the credits to see a funny bit at the very end. The funny Pixar short Knick Knack, about a snowman trying to escape his snow globe, is attached to the beginning of the film.

What Didn’t Work:
I loved this film, but I didn’t rate it as high as the other Pixar films. It slowed down a bit in a few spots and caused the kids to get antsy. The pacing alternates between frantic chases and slow, emotional, dramatic moments. The trailers and commercials also show practically all of the best moments in the film. There are very few surprises.

Parents might want to be aware that there are some scary moments. For example, while the sharks are more or less good characters, Bruce does go into a frenzy and tries to eat our heroes. Seeing a Great White with black eyes, rows of sharp teeth, a loud voice, and a massive charging body is an awesome sight. Some kids with us weren’t fazed by it while others cowered and hid their eyes. Your kid’s reaction may vary. Marlin’s wife and kids are also all eaten in a rather scary moment. Though it happens off screen, it might be too intense for some kids. Then there’s the basic plot that is about a child being kidnapped. As if kids didn’t have reason enough to be afraid of being snatched, this might play on those fears. Fortunately, it’s buried in enough comedy and animation to not be obvious.

The Bottom Line:
Finding Nemo is a movie both kids and adults will enjoy. If you’ve enjoyed the other Pixar films, you’ll love this one.