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on October 17, 2003
Recently, I saw Albert Brooks on Late Night with David Letterman, talking about Finding Nemo. Brooks, who stars as the voice of Marlon, the daddy fish, had taken his son (who, I believe was about five years old, the equivalent human age of Nemo), to the premiere. After about five minutes, Brooks said his son leaned over to him, and quietly said, the way a grownup might, "I cannot watch this movie," and walked out. Late in the movie, the son returned, having obviously been crying. Leaning over, Brooks assured his son, "You are not Nemo."
Such is the power of this fish story about father and son clownfish who become separated, and must struggle to find their way back to each other. Marlon is a loving but neurotic and overprotective father; Nemo is a frustrated young fish who wants to be independent and see the world, and resents his father for preventing him from doing so. We see an ocean (read: the world) that is a terrible, heartless, and yet joyous place that we frail fish must confront, as best we can, because there's no alternative.
The animation was done by the wonderful folks from Pixar, who are the closest thing to the reincarnation of Walt Disney. There is simply no comparison between the animation of the typical, visually flat, politically correct, contemporary animated movie (many of which are produced by Walt Disney Pictures!) and Nemo. In Nemo, the ocean floor looks like the ocean. And the characters are all ... characters. They are all physically distinctive, wonderfully written, and performed by gifted actors who - if you'll pardon the cliché - will alternately make you laugh and cry. Of particular note are Barry Humphries as Bruce the Shark, Geoffrey Rush as Nigel the Pelican, Willem Dafoe as Gill, Allison Janney as Peach, and of course, young Alexander Gould as Nemo. Ellen Degeneres, in particular, steals every scene she's in, as Dory, a gregarious fish whose memory leaks like a sieve. But this is Albert Brooks' movie. The Academy should give this man a special Oscar for the most moving voice work my wife and I have ever heard.
Thomas Newman, of the musical Newman clan (Alfred, Lionel, Randy) has produced a score that is subtle and unobtrusive much of the time, but at dramatic moments takes over, and is more impressive, with repeated viewings. He deserves his fifth Oscar nomination for Nemo.
Andrew Stanton's (Toy Story, Monsters, Inc.) screenplay, written with Bob Peterson and David Reynolds, brims with intelligence and wit (e.g., in an AA-style group of recovering - and frequently lapsing - sharks, the members intone, "I am a nice shark, not an eating machine.... Fish are friends, not food"), and Stanton's direction does not waste a scene. Every moment in Nemo will either charm you or move you. In fact, as my wife remarked, for all of its many comic scenes, this is one of the most moving movies you'll ever see. We've already seen it several times with our three-and-a-half-year-old son, who loves it, and yet with each new viewing, we notice things we'd previously missed.
Though I wish Nemo would win all of the big Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Screenplay), I doubt Academy voters will choose it over its live-action competition. And yet, I will be very surprised, if a better picture -- live action or animated -- is released this year. Finding Nemo is truly a find.
Originally published in The Critical Critic, October 17, 2003.
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on June 7, 2003
Finding Nemo is the fifth installment for Pixar Studios, the most reliable studio in Hollywood today, and it is my personal favorite. The first obviously outstanding aspect of the movie is the animation. From the breathtaking wonder of the Great Barrier Reef, to the cold, sterile fish tank, the animation is top notch and truly state of the art. The water, which has always been the bane of animation, is picture perfect, and the animators have captured the rolling but constant ocean and the light refractions perfectly. But animation itself doesn't make a film. Finding Nemo's strongest aspect is it's warm, witty, heartfelt, and funny story of a father's quest to reclaim his son. The kids will love the vibrant characters and funny situations, and so will the parents. However, the parents will be able to enjoy the film on a level far more than the kids will. The story is about losing a child, and the desperate quest to be reunited, which will hit the parent right in the gut. This is the story's dark side, which has, thankfully, not been sugar coated by the creators. Overall, lets just say Halleluja, Pixar, you've done it again!
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on May 30, 2003
There. Now that I've said that, I should tell you that this is NOT solely a childrens' movie, but will be enjoyed as much (if not more) by adults. The cleverness of Pixar will never cease to amaze me. Only they could take a concept like a full-length movie about fish and make it totally believable. This film succeeds n being very, very funny. Heck, I'm 16 and saw it in the theater with only my mother. The two of us were laughing hysterically throughout the entire thing!
There's alot of sadness and emotion in this movie and some absolutely terrific voice acting--the voice cast is top-notch. There are some touching moments and subtle messages to be heard by all, not just kids. I look forward with anticipation to the DVD release of this wonderful movie. The suspense never lets up; encounters with jellyfish, a whale, and a deep-sea lanturn fish make every moment exciting.
As we know, every Disney/Pixar film is associated with its own special "short." Well, this one is the best yet, and the short film sets you up for the great feelings you'll have while seeing "Finding Nemo." I won't give away the storyline, but it involves a cute snowman, a water globe, and some tropical souvenirs that completely ready one for the overwhelming tropical-ness of the feature film.
One thing I can't get over is how true-to-life these characters are. The attention to finding a unique species for each fish is incredible and adds a whole new, educational, dimension to the movie. There are some memorable characters in "Finding Nemo." First and foremost is Marlin, the lovable clownfish who is an overprotective father to his adventurous son, Nemo. Then there's Dory, the regal blue tang with the memory problem. She provides much of the comic relief but is also an immensely "real" character. Bruce is a mako shark who wants to get rid of the typical image of sharks as mindless eating machines. Crush is a 150-year-old sea turtle with a cool-surfer-dude attitude. Nigel is a helpful pelican. The whole thing takes place in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.
And then there are the aquarium fish, who invite Nemo into their 'club' when he gets scooped from the sea. He goes through the initiation ceremony at Mt. Wannahockaloogee, complete with tiki statues and all. The animation is awesome. Their group includes Peach, the lookout starfish; Deb, a delusional fish who thinks her reflection is her sister; a French shrimp, a puffer fish, a yellow tang, and a royal gramma. They are led by Gill, a moorish idol who longs to return to the ocean.
This film is excellent; it deserves a sequel...
Overall this is one film that nobody should miss--parents, kids, or otherwise. I hope this review has convinced you to go get yourself a ticket to "Finding Nemo."
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on October 6, 2003
ASIDE from the spectacular animation, the laughs, and the endearing characters - this film has great educational value. For whatever reason, I grew up with an...uneasiness...around people with handicaps. By the end of the film I was completely oblivious to the fact two of the main characters were physically or mentally challenged. Dora, in fact, was one of the most charming characters I've seen in film recently - animated or not.
I also (as a divorced father) greatly appreciated a single FATHER being portrayed as loving and capable. Too much of media shows men, if not actually villains, as bumbling or careless - if they're present at all.
BRAVO! The film is so entertaining you hardly notice positive lessons are being reinforced.
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on August 11, 2013
I know that the top negative review states that the 3D is subdued in this movie, but that reviewer must have a really bad 3D TV.

First, let's get a few things out of the way- your TV makes a difference (bad 3D TV = subdued 3D), your type of 3D TV makes a difference (active may give you headaches due to flickering effects and the weight of the glasses), and 3D does NOT mean that things need to fly out of your screen and into the middle of the room to qualify as 3D. In fact, the reason many people claim that 3D gives them headaches is due to too MUCH coming out towards you... so your best 3D films make use of the space IN the TV, not out of it. If you want 3D that shoots out at you, get a cheesy movie built poorly and enjoy the nausea.

Why computer animation is SOOOO much better than live action is that with live action, many companies convert their films to 3D with the use of a computer, so things may look weird or out of place. Field depth may be off and you're seeing what the conversion computer thinks you should see. Avatar looked amazing in 3D because they literally built 2 cameras side by side which gave you a true-to-life 3D experience. In computer animation, they simply add another camera next to the original one and re-process the movie with the two cameras working together, just like Avatar. So in other words, it's true 3D, not converted.

Finding Nemo is the best of the best when it comes to 3D. The fish may not come out of the screen at you often (though my daughter DID continually reach out toward them), they constantly look like they are swimming in true water. The floaties in every scene are constantly at different depths and flow with the water, making me feel like I was watching a giant tank. If you want to impress your friends, show them the scene where the jelly fish show up, the scene where the whale comes towards them (and in this version, coming toward YOU... creepy!!), and the seagull chase scene. I have yet to find a person who wasn't impressed (including several self-proclaimed 3D haters). It truly is astounding, and though I know the 3D splits the image for each eye, so technically you are seeing a lower resolution image in each, I swear that it looked better and I saw more detail in the 3D version than the 2D.

After we watched this we immediately bought Monster's Inc in 3D... and yes, it too is just as impressive. Finding Nemo's 3D actually impressed me more than Avatar did, and those that have seen both on my TV agree with me. If you enjoy 3D at home with a really good 3D set, this is THE 3D movie you cannot pass up. If you're going to invest in some 3D movies, go with the Pixar computer animated features- you won't regret it. Don't buy just any animated feature based on the fact that they are in 3D, but when you get the best ones in 3D, it's worth the investment.

(Edit: After quite a few 3D movies passing through my TV, this one still stands out as the absolute best. Again, this is the best 3D movie to date in my opinion.)
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on November 11, 2003
"I'll call you squishy, you shall be mine, you shall be my squishy" says Dory the blue, short term memory loss fish to a small jellyfish near by! This movie is wonderful. It's cute, it's funny, it's silly, it's sweet and it has a great meaning to it. It's great for all ages. You will want to watch it over and over again. If you are anything like my nieces and I you will find yourself quoting little things that Dory says throughout the movie because they are so funny and memorable!! It's classic!
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on November 26, 2003
Few movies in recent years have done as impressive a job as Finding Nemo in giving us uplifting, truly fun entertainment with a wonderful message. Nemo is a nonstop journey from fear to joy, from struggle to triumph, from grasping and clutching to courageous self-abandonment. I will not say an ill word about this movie. I cannot give it less than a full five stars.
Pixar has put out some great movies--but none of them hold a candle to Nemo.
Visually this movie is unlike any of its pixar predecessors. The Toys, Bugs and Monsters of the past have all been skillfully executed. They have also all been very anthropomorphic. They not only acted like humans, they took very human forms. Not so with Nemo. This movie is set in a very believable, but wonderfully alien seascape (and aquariumscape).
Yet what Nemo and his Father go through is the most human of stories. The over-protected child must come of age. As is often the case, the protector (Nemo's Dad), finds that he must do likewise.
Nemo's Father only wants the best for his child. Yet, like too many fathers, he unintentionally fails to heed the teaching of Colossians 3:21-- "Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged."
Nemo becomes lost in his rebellion against his father's discouraging nagging. However, it is in the darkness of the proverbial "far country" that Nemo comes to see his life more clearly. In time he finds things inside (and outside) of himself that he never suspected were there.
This story of the unexpected Rite of Passage has an almost mythic power to it. Along the way we as viewers cannot help but find ourselves laughing, being moved, and--always--entertained.
Albert Brooks has always been on my shortlist of the best voice actors alive (listen to his guest-voice work on The Simpsons). He does not disappoint as Nemo's Dad. He and Ellen Degeneres absolutely carry this movie with their brilliant acting. Wilhelm DeFoe is wonderful as well in the role of Gill.
I cannot recommend this movie enough. I'm still waiting on The Return of the King, but Finding Nemo may well win my personal movie of the year award.
Watch it Today!
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on June 2, 2003
My daughter and I went to see this film at our local IMAX theater and I have to say it was fabulous! This picture deals with some difficult themes in an entertaining and heart-warming way. The ocean scenes were so breath-taking that at times it was hard to believe we were watching computer animation. We loved this movie so much that we will be going to see it again this week. Looking around the theater I saw many young adults and couples without children. I hope the 70 million dollar opening weekend sends a message to Hollywood: America is tired of the violence. We want more feel-good movies.
Bravo Disney/Pixar! We are patiently awaiting your next theatrical release in Nov. 2004!
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Pixar has outdone themselves once again. "Finding Nemo" is the dramatic, sometimes sad & scary, sometimes drop-dead hilarious, tale (or should I say "tail"?) of a Father trying to find his lost son. In this case, the father (voice over by Albert Brooks), Marlin, is a clownfish living in a sea anemone. His son, Nemo, evokes images of Dicken's "Tiny Tim" character with his defective fin.
In light of todays news headlines where children are forcibly kidnapped from their own homes, the opening of the film may be too intense and overwhelming for some sensitive youngsters.
As with its other movies ("Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc.," etc.), the story is so well written, it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
As someone who has a salt water aquarium at home with a pair of clownfish and a regal tang (the species of Dory, played by Ellen DeGeneres), I know first hand how these fish move through water and interact with other fish in the tank.
It's obvious that the artists involved in animating these characters studied their biology and behavior for hours on end. A few times, the fish are literally out of the water, and as the water on their skin begins to drip off, you can see the subtle highlights in their scales. Magnificent work.
Obviously, the fish are given human-like eyes... a truly necessary component to get you emotionally involved with these characters.
Even Bruce, the Great White shark, is an endearing fellow with an Australian accent. Despite the human-like characteristics, the adherence to physiological details on the rest of these species is incredible.
The lighting has such an effect that you feel like you are under water with the fish. The gentle swaying of the coral and anemones is surreal... just like the real Great Barrier Reef.
In reality, some of these fish would never encounter each other in the wild... and we all know that Starfish do not have eyes or smiley faces... but you do not care about those minor details while watching this film.
Dory is the beautiful blue & yellow regal tang fish who teams up with Marlin to find his son. Her tendency to forget almost everything she hears is a part of the charm of this character. Ellen DeGeneres' voice was perfect for this fish. The facial expressions on the characters, modeled after the actors that did their voices, are also priceless.
This movie is far more than eye-candy. The story and comedic timing are so good, it could be done with stick-figures and still be good.
This movie is an absolute delight. When it is released on DVD, it will immediately be added to my collection - this is a film I could see time and time again.
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on August 27, 2005
My 8-year old grandson and I watched this one evening, and I was more than pleasantly surprised by the fun I had. The characters and voices are so lively, and it's a wonderful message for people of all ages. I haven't watched a cartooon in years, and found the humor geared to adults and children equally. (It really is amazing what they can do with the computer cartoon drawing nowadays -- it was like watching real people!) If you want to spend quality time with youngsters, while being entertained, then this is the perfect film. If you are a romantic, like me, you might even find need of a tissue later in the film. Both the humor and poignancy will wet your eyes. Enjoy!
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