Finding Nemo (2003), Run-time 100mins, Cert U.

Directors - Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich.

Writer - Andrew Stanton.

Starring - Albert Brooks, Ellen Degeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe & Geoffrey Rush.


Premise - When clown fish Marlin's (Albert Brooks) wife is killed in a Barracuda attack he promises his only surviving son Nemo (Alexander Gould) that he will never let anything happen to him. So, when Nemo is captured by a scuba diving Sydney dentist, Marlin heads out into the unknown to find his son, at any cost.

I’m not a huge fan of kid’s films and even although Finding Nemo had received glowing reviews and had created huge box office, the mediocrity of Monsters Inc was still fresh in my mind. Toy Story 1&2 and A Bugs Life I liked a lot, but Monsters Inc left me pretty much cold. The overbearing mugging of Billy Crystal was high on my list of problems with that film. So, with that and the fact that a film about lost fish doesn’t exactly sound like a thrilling time I was fully prepared to be, at the very least indifferent about this film.

Finding Nemo then turns out to be one of a rare breed indeed. A kid’s film that I not only thoroughly enjoyed, but one that I highly recommend not only to kids and adults with kids, but to anybody and everybody. Few kid’s films (I hate the term family film, lets face it, they are kid’s films) have the necessary balance between stuff to keep the ankle biters entertained and stuff to engage the adults. Lilo & Stitch is one from recent memory that had it right and Finding Nemo fits nicely into that category also.

Being that this is a Pixar film it is of little surprise that the visuals are drop dead gorgeous. Like all their previous films an unparalleled level of detail is on offer. Every single shot is crammed full of so much detail that it would be impossible to take everything in during one sitting. This may be Pixar’s most colourful film as the reefs and various underwater locals are imbued with lush primary colours and amazing textures.

The animation is fluid and the lip syncing is impeccable. An interesting trade off between reality and fantasy has been used. Whilst many creatures seem incredibly realistic, some (primarily the main characters) have been given exaggerated features to allow for more dramatic expressions. This actually makes the characters more appealing and gives them a little individuality.

The characters are quite an eclectic bunch (as is the norm for a Pixar flick). From the colourful fish that inhabit the reef, to the three vegetarian sharks, to the surfing turtles, to the collection of fish in the dentist’s tank and the friendly pelican, all are well rounded and well realised characters. They all have a certain ‘shtick’ and they all entertain enormously.

The voices also add enormously to the success of the film. Albert Brooks is just like he is in live action films, neurotic and bumbling. His voice fit’s Marlin perfectly as he is overprotective of his son and fears for his safety at all times. I’m no Ellen Degeneres fan, but her voice is spot on for Dory, the skittish fish with short term memory loss. Dory and Marlin have great chemistry together and play well off one another.

Alexander Gould is fine as the voice of Nemo; he has little to do aside from sound ‘cute’ which he achieves easily. Much better is the likes of Willem Dafoe as Gill, the hardened inmate of the dentist’s tank who dreams of escape and Geoffrey Rush as Nigel the helpful Pelican. It should also be said that a lot of the characters have excellent Australian accents. Whether they got real Aussies or not to fill the roles I don’t know, but if they are not real then kudos to the voice talent involved.

The story whilst nothing new or original does strike all the right notes. We’ve seen this kind of plot before in the likes of An American Tale and even in some of Pixar’s other films. No matter though as the film is fast paced enough and contains enough excitement that quibbles over its originality are just that, quibbles.

Whilst the kids will be enthralled by the lush animation, likeable characters and exciting action set-pieces, the adults can enjoy the sly humour and nods to other films like Jaws, The Birds, The Shining and Monty Python and the Holy Grail amongst others. Finding Nemo’s crowning achievement though is that it makes you feel like a kid again. You get swept up in the simple narrative and start rooting for Marlin to find his son. And when the inevitable happy ending wheels round it doesn’t even feel forced or overly syrupy.

Luscious animation, nice subtle comedy, appealing characters and a familiar, but enjoyable story make for a hugely entertaining movie. Not just for kids, Finding Nemo is a film that has something that everybody can enjoy.



Poster Quote – Find it, love it.

If you enjoyed Finding Nemo then check out – Lilo & Stitch, Toy Story, A Bugs Life.


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