Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo was the fifth film from Pixar and broke records for the box office. In many ways, it’s the perfect family film with the wacky sidekick, the heroic journey and the relatable kid who is different in some way but triumphs in the end. Finding Nemo is a beautiful film, but I find that I have problems with the film.
The film follows a clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) who has had to raise his son Nemo (Alexander Gould) on his own after his wife, Coral (Elizabeth Perkins), was tragically killed. While Nemo is on his way to school, he swims away to be captured by a diver while Marlin looks on, horrified. His father follows the boat, only to lose it and meet a Pacific Regal Blue Tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres). The two then meet three sharks attempting to convert to vegetarianism, Bruce (Barry Humphries), Anchor (Eric Bana) and Chum (Bruce Spence). Then they find a mask that dropped from the boat and discover an address in Syndey. They then meet up with a school of fish (John Ratzenberger), clash with jellyfish, and meet up with a group of sea turtles led by Crush (Stanton). Meanwhile, Nemo has found himself in a dentist’s fish tank, surrounded by a group of neurotic fish led by Gill (William Dafoe).
My main problem with Finding Nemo is the character of Dory. Dory serves as a great method to push Marlin, but at a certain point her short-term memory borders on being annoying. I remember when the film came out that everyone talked about Dory and Crush—I actually thought the movie was about them rather than Marlin searching for his son—so her comedy in the role worked at engaging with the kids. There is the problem that if you cut out the character of Dory, Marlin probably wouldn’t grow as a character. It’s more like a character trait that eventually becomes schtick that is no longer fresh after a certain point. But in the end, her short term memory does help save the day, so is she really that bad?
There are two things that do make Finding Nemo a wonderful film. One is the ability to see the journey of both Marlin and Nemo as characters, how they grow as a result of having to go outside of their reef. In some ways, I expect Marlin to grow and not be so insecure, but to see Nemo grow as a result of being separated from his clingy father was nice. But the beautiful thing about the film is its animation. From what I remember of the animation in Monsters, Inc.—prior to starting this series, it was one of the films I had watched most recently—the animation in this movie is vastly better. Water would seem to be an incredibly difficult setting to animate, but Pixar manages to make it look uncannily realistic. With this film, we also start to see the humans look a little more realistic in jawlines and hair colors. Although, for some reason, Pixar presents yet another creepy child with braces in this film. While the headgear on this child, Darla, makes her look more menacing than Sid, it does seem odd as to why the genuinely scary children in Pixar films have braces.
Yes, I’m conflicted about this film and that’s resulting in this being my shortest post. But what this comes down to is that a lot of people like this movie and for the most part it is a good movie. At the very least, it’s an incredibly imaginative film which makes it all the more enjoyable.