Finding Nemo/3D (2003/2012)

Featuring the Voices of: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Alison Janney, Austin Pendleton, Stephen Root, Vicki Lewis, Joe Ranft, Geoffrey Rush, Nicholas Bird, John Ratzenberger, Andrew Stanton, Eric Bana, Barry Humphries, Erik Per Sullivan, Elizabeth Perkins, Jordy Ranft, Erica Beck, Bill Hunter.

Director: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Rating: G
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Date: May 30, 2003
Release Date 3D: September 14, 2012

Home Video Release Date: November 4, 2003
Home Video Release Date 3D: December 4, 2012

North American Box Office (All Releases): $339.7 Million

Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Enterprises, Disney Enterprises, and Buena Vista Pictures.

Written by: Andrew Stanton (Story); Andrew Stanton, Bob Petersen, and David Reynolds (Screenplay)
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(out of 5 stars)

Still as wonderful today as it was upon its original unveiling in 2003, Finding Nemo‘s return to the big screen is simply sublime.  The rich detail, the extraordinary realness in the underwater landscapes, the suspenseful and surprisingly moving story that gives the film an unexpected emotional punch, Finding Nemo has come back home.

For those who may be unaware, and please remedy this problem as soon as you possibly can, Finding Nemo simply tells the story of Marlin (Albert Brooks), a single clownfish father, who due to a tragic loss at the beginning of the film, is insanely overprotective of his only son, Nemo (Alexander Gould).  Nemo is ready to begin his first day of school and Marlin is beside himself with panic and anxiety, clearly not ready for Nemo to be out of his site for even a few hours, let alone a full day.  After swimming Nemo to school, he learns that Nemo’s teacher, Mr. Ray, has arranged a field trip to travel to The Drop Off, a place Marlin feels is too dangerous and too far away for his young son to travel to.  Once there, Marlin makes excuses for Nemo, citing his tiny fin, a likely result of the events which open the film, as a reason why Nemo should not go on the field trip.  In desperation, Marlin even suggests that Nemo wait another year before starting school. 

Along with a couple of classmates, Nemo notices the underside of a boat off in the distance and soon becomes caught up in a game of dares.  When Nemo reaches the boat, out in the open sea, in complete defiance of his worried father, the unthinkable happens.  As Nemo relents and begins to return to the class, after proving his point, deep sea divers appear, taking pictures and collecting samples from the area.  One of the divers pulls out a bag, collects Nemo, and swims away.  Marlin’s worst fears are realized, his son is gone, and naturally, he will do anything possible to find and save the only family he has left.

Finding Nemo may be as technically accomplished as any animated film ever produced, but Andrew Stanton’s story is simply compelling theater, speaking to generations of parents and children alike.  Expertly, the film moves from intensity to comedy, from endearing drama and real emotion to a winking and goofy sensibility.  Albert Brooks strikes the perfect pitch as the anxious Marlin, drawing on the opening scene’s subdued horror and bringing that pain and fear forward with every line of dialogue.  The rich supporting cast of characters still punctuate the proceedings perfectly, with characters drifting in and out of the film but leaving a lasting impression each time.

But to speak about Finding Nemo, one must acknowledge the wonderful work turned in by Ellen DeGeneres.  As Dory, a Regal Tang, who Marlin meets and asks for help, DeGeneres is fantastic as a good-hearted fish suffering from short-term memory loss.  For those who have seen Finding Nemo, DeGeneres steals the show all over again and Dory is one of the best, and most enjoyable, characters Pixar has ever created.  After meeting and casting DeGeneres, Stanton and his fellow screenwriters Bob Peterson and David Reynolds redrafted and redesigned Dory’s character to match DeGeneres’ real-life traits and characteristics and it is impossible to not like Dory, much like DeGeneres herself.  She and Brooks make a wonderful pair, balancing Dory’s naivete with Marlin’s tense communication, and creating an Odd Couple of sorts who unite on a mission to find Nemo.

Even the moments in a dentist’s office aquarium work well, as the aquarium becomes Nemo’s new home.  There we meet a whole new cast of characters, dubbed The Tank Gang, and the film fails to miss a beat, contrasting the two worlds of an expansive and never-ending ocean with the constrained and false recreation where Nemo must reside.  The wonderful addition of another danger, the young fish-shaking girl known as Darla, brings another layer of tension and relatability for the youngest of viewers.   Everything works so well nearly a decade later, that Finding Nemo has not aged at all.  Every moment resonates, the visuals just as breathtaking as before, and the story, the voice work, the entire presentation remains remarkable.  Even as the technology of making movies has evolved and the impossible now indeed seems truly possible, Finding Nemo looks and feels every bit as incredible now as it did originally.

The 2003 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature Film, simply seeing Finding Nemo on the big screen once again, be it in its new 3D version or in its original 2D form, is like finding a bauble or memory from more youthful days and becoming enveloped with unbridled joy and excitement at its rediscovery.  Nine years on from its 2003 unveiling, Finding Nemo remains one of Pixar’s finest productions and this re-release simply cements Finding Nemo as timeless; a work that reaps unending rewards to viewers of all ages. 

Also of note:  A new Toy Story Toon plays in front of Finding Nemo.  This entry, entitled Partysaurus Rex, features Rex the Dinosaur becoming coerced into helping a legion of bath toys have just a little more playtime when bath time comes to an end.  With pulsating music by BT, the short is flat out funny, tapping into the music of the moment, and frankly, I could watch Toy Story films and shorts all day long, so my bias is worn on my sleeve.  Suffice it to say, Partysaurus Rex sets the stage wonderfully for Finding Nemo.

SHOULD I SEE IT?
YES
  • This is a film you can and should share with children of all ages.
  • I am not a proponent for more 3D whatsoever, railing about its overuse and exhausting saturation in today’s movie world.  With that said, I must acknowledge that Finding Nemo benefits from the transfer in subtle and non-obvious ways.
  • A modern-day classic, I ranked it as my #4 film of 2003, Finding Nemo is arguably one of the greatest animated films of all time and has a place on the big screen in any format.
NO
  • Since I have nothing negative to say about the film, the two…as in 1 and 2…negative reviews from more than 200 published reviews, as collated by Rotten Tomatoes, say the following: “After four Pixar films, I see the cliches emerging” and “I never forgot who the target audience for Finding Nemo truly was.”  So, there.  Avoid the film if you think Pixar movies are cliched or you fear the film may be geared a bit too much for kids.
  • You are a contrarian and just cannot help yourself.  Or you hate good movies.
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