July 13, 2009

Finding Nemo (2003)

I CAN’T BELIEVE I let Father’s Day pass without reviewing a movie that focused on dads, or the relationship between a dad and child.

To amend for that oversight – and to cleanse Dash and my palates of the last two lackluster kids’ films we watched (here and here) – I popped in Finding Nemo.

Overprotective, recently widowed clown fish Marlin (Albert Brooks) takes his son Nemo (Alexander Gould) to his first day of school. But when Nemo rebels after yet another of Marlin’s lectures about playing it safe, he’s snatched up by a diver, who takes him away. With the help of a friendly, forgetful blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), Marlin begins the seemingly impossible quest of finding his son and bringing him home.

• Like Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo is a movie that you view much differently after becoming a parent. The film starts by playing on one of our worst fears – having one of our children be lost or abducted – then takes us on Marlin’s journey, against seemingly overwhelming odds, to bring his boy home.
• Directors Andrew Stanton (WALL-E) and Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) – with a script from Stanton, Bob Peterson, and David Reynolds – pack enough adventure into Nemo’s 100 minutes to fill three films. There are so many layers and sequences, with a massive amount of characters – each one fully fleshed out thanks to a cast whose voices perfectly fit their respective roles.
The underwater world of Nemo is amazing, full of rich colors and lifelike underwater movement – not just the fish themselves, but their surroundings as well.
• In addition to the main story and characters, there's an abundance of smaller treasures in Nemo that help make it such a joyful experience: The shark support group. The “tank gang.” The “Mine! Mine! Mine!” seagulls. The father-and-son, surfer-dude sea turtles (dad Crush is voiced by Stanton). The pitch-perfect score by Thomas Newman. The “heyyy, heyyy, heyyy” crabs. The school of fish impressionists (voiced by Pixar lucky charm John Ratzenberger).
And while I’m not the biggest Ellen DeGeneres fan, she is priceless as Dory – providing comic relief while dishing out the occasional pearl of wisdom.

As fathers, we each want to be a hero in our kids’ eyes; a brave, loving, and trusting protector who knows when to hold our children tight, when to loosen our grip…and when to let go (something Marlin learns on his quest to find Nemo).

For me, Finding Nemo captures that dad-as-hero ideal in the simple look of awe and admiration on Nemo’s face when the pelican Nigel (Geoffrey Rush) tells him about Marlin’s adventures. That’s the face we all want our kids to have when they look at, or even think about, their father.

By the way…if you’re a father with young kids, and you don’t get misty at least once while watching Finding Nemo, call your doctor. Something’s wrong with you.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

What did Dash think?
Dash talks a lot when we watch Finding Nemo – not out of boredom, but excitement and laughter. He always wants to share the amazing and funny moments in the film, sometimes just to make sure that I “get it.”

Will your kids want to watch it?
• The more appropriate question is, “How soon will you want your kids to watch it?” If you have young children, Finding Nemo is an absolute must-see.
• That being said, there are a few intense scenes and scary fish, and Nemo’s mommy dies in the opening segment (albeit off-screen). Use your judgment showing Nemo to the pre-K crowd.

Will your FilmMother like it?
She won’t like it; she’ll love it. Finding Nemo is a great, virtually flawless film. And even if she has seen it, it’s worth another viewing…or five.


Finding Nemo

• Directors: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
• Screenwriters: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds
• Stars: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Geoffrey Rush
• MPAA Rating: G

Buy this movie for less at Half.com >>


James (SeattleDad) said...

Great review. This film was terrific, as opposed to the movie 'Sharks? which was dreadful.

Jim @ CoolStuffForDads.com said...

I agree, Finding Nemo is a good movie. Nice job on the review.

Gemma said...

I love, love, LOVE this movie. I could watch it over and over again. And I LOVE watching Dash watch it, too. I really liked your review, and thanks for educating me to the type of fish that Dory is! Blue tang, huh? I didn't know that!

Kathy B. said...

I saw this with your Mom and I share her enthusiasm.
I think the movie had only one flaw.
Nemo's Mother dying.

Jeff Allard said...

My four year old son loves this movie - one of Pixar's best! Great review, FF!

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