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Finding Nemo

2003 | 100 min | G | 1.85:1

Finding Nemo


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Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 30 May, 2003
 10 October, 2003

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native)

Box office




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Screenshots from Finding Nemo Blu-ray

Finding Nemo Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 13, 2012

While 3D rereleases (this year alone has returned “Beauty and the Beast,” “Titanic,” and “The Phantom Menace” to screens) are motivated entirely by monetary needs, I must admit it’s been enlightening to revisit titles from the recent past, providing an opportunity to reevaluate movies that didn’t exactly penetrate the first time around. Back in 2003, I had a mixed reaction to “Finding Nemo,” an unpardonable offense to some, but the movie didn’t immediately impress with its overstuffed narrative, flashes of bodily function humor, and screenwriting formula. I didn’t hate the picture, but I’ve come to understand that any raised eyebrow directed at a Pixar production (outside of the “Cars” efforts) is an offense punishable by the death penalty in some corners of the internet, leaving me to wonder how a feature I wasn’t fond of nine years ago would play today, aided by the addition of 3D.

After surviving a brutal barracuda attack that kills his wife and most of his children, terrified clownfish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is left with a single boy in Nemo (Alexander Gould), a resilient little guy with a tiny right fin who grows to loathe his father’s overprotective ways. When an act of deep sea defiance allows Nemo to be captured by a human diver, Marlin loses his mind, racing to save his boy, who’s eventually dropped into a workplace aquarium, greeted by a friendly group of fish, including Gill (Willem Dafoe). Unable to locate Nemo, Marlin turns to Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) for help, quickly discovering the Blue Tang has a memory problem, leading to great confusion and frustration for the frantic father. Swimming to Sydney, Australia to retrieve Nemo, Marlin and Dory greet various oceanic creatures along the way, some looking to help the pair find their way to safety, while others hope to dine on the little lost travelers.

I still contend that “Finding Nemo” is overlong, working through one too many misadventures with Dory and Marlin while director Andrew Stanton juggles a significant escape plot with Nemo and Gill. The dramatic peaks and valleys fatigue the feature, leaving the second half crying out for a climax that doesn’t arrive soon enough, needlessly expanding Marlin’s worry while the story is already positioned for closure. There’s a lot of traveling time to cover in “Nemo,” yet less is more, especially when the strong voice acting tends to instantly establish emotional beats the movie swims around in circles to emphasize. The film’s use of burps, fecal matter, and phantom farts is also disconcerting, especially with the Pixar team chasing a profound sincerity with this story of separation and maturity. They’re small blasts of crude humor (far from the average installment of “Shrek”), but unnecessary in the long run.

Perhaps seeing “Nemo” with older eyes has left me open to its charms, now greeting the story with a newfound understanding of its thematic intent, appreciative of the emotional textures Stanton pulls out of his animation army and the performers. It’s a gorgeous picture, arguably the most beautiful production to come out of Pixar, and while the richness of the deep blue sea and the colors of the underwater community hypnotize, there’s a poignant story of loss, friendship, and self-reliance out there to savor, while moments of community effort easily charm, especially when help for Marlin and Dory arrives in the form of surfer-dude sea turtles, who aid the floundering fish with current navigation. Stanton cuts deep with separation anxiety, but comforts with his command of personality and his use of the ocean, a vast place of mystery and threat (to this day, I have no idea how the violence in “Nemo” snagged a G-rating), even for its inhabitants.

The 3D upgrade is tasteful, without gimmicky shots taking the viewer out of the experience. Those raised on 3D ocean documentaries will find a similar experience, viewing elongated distances and a general layered sensation to the image, adding storybook expanse to the movie. It’s an enveloping addition for ticket buyers who appreciate such things, absent any sort of visual punch typically associated with the cheap thrills of the process.

It’s been a long time since I first viewed “Finding Nemo,” and while the feature hasn’t changed, I believe my sensitivity to certain creative choices of the picture has dulled some, while age has opened my eyes to its complex relationships and tireless sense of exploration. While 3D doesn’t radically transform the viewing experience, another opportunity to see the film on the big screen (where its oceanic splendor belongs) is worth the price of admission.

Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney
Directors: Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton

» See full cast & crew

Finding Nemo, Forum Discussions

Last post
Finding Dory (Finding Nemo Sequel) 241 Sep 18, 2013

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