Finding Nemo (2003)

The highest grossing G-rated picture of all time is Finding Nemo. Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich’s movie continues the great Pixar tradition in incredible fashion, delivering a colourful and vast world that is engrossing and beautiful. The 2003 film is adventurous and inspiring, filled with loads of dazzling imagery. The beauty of this movie is that it creates realism out of things and settings that don’t look quite real.

Finding Nemo isn’t the best Pixar movie overall, but it is the Pixar movie that really broadened the studio’s horizons. It’s probably the very best in terms of animation, however, and provides an opportunity to explore a whole world of possibilities. It fits the Disney traditions well, too, offering a timeless quality with its characters and settings that made me want to spend several hours in the environment created by the gifted artists.

Albert Brooks provides the voice of Marlin, a clownfish and father to Nemo (Alexander Gould). Of course, Nemo is Marlin’s only child. Marlin is overprotective and, when Nemo goes missing, he must set off on an adventure that takes him to some very scary places to try to get his son back. Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneras, is a regal tang who joins Marlin to help him look for his son. The problem is that Dory has short-term memory loss and this doesn’t particularly help matters, but it does give Marlin some much-needed companionship.

All sorts of other ocean creatures are introduced along the way. We follow Marlin as he looks for his son, but we also follow Nemo as he experiences adventures of his own in a small aquarium in a dentist office in Australia. As the journey carries along, the Marlin and Nemo learn about their relationship from the others around them and discover how to carry on life in a dangerous ocean world.

Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Stephen Root, Geoffrey Rush, Elizabeth Perkins, Eric Bana, and Pixar fave John Ratzenberger all provide voices as well, fleshing out a number of characters that range from the highly entertaining to the ho-hum. Through it all, though, the animation is kept bright and eye-catching. As much as I didn’t particularly care about the Stanton-voiced turtle Crush, for instance, I did find the journey through the current exhilarating and fun.

There’s a lot of really funny stuff here, like the trio of sharks who turn out to be working on a chapter of Fish Eaters Anonymous or the slapstick-rich dentist’s office complete with the movie’s “antagonist” Darla. Finding Nemo really does make the whole “talking creatures” shtick work, which is fortunate because so many other genre pictures flounder around without direction or energy.

Even so, I didn’t find myself enjoying Finding Nemo as much as I thought I might. With great films like Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up in their stable now, Pixar has really evolved into a studio to be reckoned with in terms of animation consistency. Finding Nemo is the first of many Pixar pictures to scoop the Best Animated Feature award, too, and would signify the studio’s dominance in that category at the Oscars for several years to come. In my view, only Ghibli comes close to rivalling the quality of animation put out by Pixar.

Finding Nemo is the type of family film that really does appeal to the whole family. It is adventurous, fun, beautiful, exhilarating, and funny. The characters are well done, for the most part, and the animation is always astounding – right down to the detail on the scales of the fish. There’s a lot to love about Finding Nemo and it is an animated picture that shouldn’t be neglected by any serious lover of film.


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