"Finding Nemo" is a fish tale the whole family can enjoy. It has beautiful animation and
tropical colors, a child friendly story, and uses adult themes and humor without being too
obtrusive. Detailing the journey of a father in search of his missing son through the
vastness of the Pacific Ocean/Coral Sea, the film explores underwater life through the eyes
of a clown fish. From the producers of such wonderfully vivid and original films as "Toy
Story" and "Monsters, Inc," "Finding Nemo" is an instant animated classic for all ages.
Clown fish, also known as Amphiprion ocellaris, are known for inhabiting sea anemone, staying
close to home, and staying away from the open sea all together. And just like any other
clown fish, Marlin wants to do just that. He has a loving mate who has just given him
hundreds of Marlin Juniors and he finds a protective anemone along the Great Barrier Reef
to house his new family, one that is in close proximity to food sources and fish schools.
But tragedy strikes shortly after moving into their new home. A barracuda takes the life
of all but one of the eggs - little Nemo. Born with a withered fin, Nemo is slightly
handicapped in swimming, but certainly not in curiosity and excitement.
On Nemo's first day of fish school, his father warns him to stay away from the deep-end of
water. But struggling to fit in with his classmates, he ignores his father's instruction,
swims out to the drop off, and is subsequently captured by a deep-sea diver. Witnessing this
horror but too late to stop it is Marlin. He chases after the boat carrying Nemo only to
wind up in the open sea all alone. While Nemo is sold to a tropical fish retailer and
eventually winds up in an aquarium in a dentist's office, Marlin desperately tries to track
down his son. Immediately, he runs into a talkative and friendly blue fish named Dory.
Dory suffers from short-term memory loss; however, her optimism and energy prove invaluable
to Marlin on his journey.
Along the way, the two encounter a trio of support group sharks (Fish-eaters
anonymous), some carefree surfer-like sea turtles (dude!), a brown Pelican, a
dangerous grouping of jellyfish, and even wind up in the belly of a whale.
Meanwhile, Nemo is having his own adventure, replete with an odd assortment of
friendly fish in the dentist's aquarium, friends who also have their hopes set
on returning or escaping to the ocean. As Nemo and the aquarium gang plot their
escape, Marlin and Dory make their way to the Australian coast. Despite the
enormity of the ocean and the scope of the search, it would appear that everyone
is out to find Nemo and reunite him with his father.
"Finding Nemo" is one of those films that wash right over you. Much like sitting in front
of an IMAX film and being totally absorbed, I was entranced with all the colorful images
floating along the sides of the screen in addition to what was happening front and center.
The detail is so magnificent that the story almost plays secondary to the awe-inspiring
beauty. Yet what makes it so real is not the clarity of the all around picture, but rather
the blurriness that persists in the background. This darkened appearance gives you a sense
of hidden depth and mystery. Of particular notice was the scene where Marlin and Dory are
debating whether or not to ask a fish for directions. You have no idea about the size or
kind of fish that floats in the distance until it comes into full view.
As Pixar's 5th feature film in conjunction with Disney, "Nemo" borrows elements from the
classic Disney line as well as elements from "Toy Story" [see if you can spot the Buzz
Lightyear cameo]. Co-written and directed by Andrew Stanton (who also provides the voice
of the sea turtle Crush), it has the quirky humor of a Pixar flick while also dealing with
heavier issues underneath - issues surrounding fatherhood, loss, handicaps, support groups,
and mental illnesses. Of utmost importance is Marlin, who displays signs of an
overprotective father and must relinquish control over Nemo in order for his son to grow.
These adult themes are handled with great ease and in light detail without inhibiting the
flow of the story for children. They make the characters more fallible and their flaws
Films such as these are wonderful learning tools for children because they paint
a picture that isn't necessarily from a human perspective, but rather the
perspective of an ant, a toy, a monster, or in this case, a fish. In these
worlds, the characters exhibit humanlike emotions and concerns - finding
acceptance among one's peers, rekindling friendship with a loved one, or
exercising patience and trust in parenthood. But in these worlds as in real
life, humans can be both helpful and harmful. Such portraits make you rethink
things from a variety of different perspectives. For instance, purchasing a
fish from a pet store to have as a pet seems innocent enough, but to the fish,
says Gill, they "aren't meant to be in a box...it does things to you." From a
human perspective, children may seem innocent, but from a toy or fish's
perspective, children with braces can be made to look like monsters!
Although Albert Brooks is distinguishable as Marlin, the neurotic father fish,
it's really Ellen DeGeneres who steals the show. As the voice of Dory, the
short-term memory Regal Blue Tang that accompanies Marlin on his journey to
find Nemo, DeGeneres is wonderfully chatty and hysterical, albeit very
forgetful! Her attempt to communicate with whales is a laughing riot by itself.
Also typical for most animated features, a slew of familiar voices bring life to
characters including Willem Dafoe as Gill, Geoffrey Rush as Nigel, Brad Garrett
as Bloat, and Allison Janney as Peach the Starfish. Their personas in film and
television give their characters an additional background and richness all by
"Finding Nemo" is a great animated adventure to be enjoyed by all. It retains
all of the elements of previous Pixar entries and builds on their strengths.
Even though the film's primary storyline involves finding Nemo, you may find
yourself lost in the beautiful expanse of ocean that the animators created.
With over 3.7 trillion fish in the sea, it's remarkable that something as small
as a clown fish could possibly be found. But for Marlin and Nemo, finding
themselves was just as important as finding each other. As e.e. cummings once
wrote: "whatever we lose, it's always ourselves that we find in the ocean."