Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Movie Review: "Finding Nemo" (2003)

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Movie"Finding Nemo"
Director: Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
Year: 2003
Rating: G
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

It's Nemo's (Alexander Gould) first day at school, but his overprotective father Marlin (Albert Brooks) is having trouble letting go. This is because Nemo's mom and all of his siblings were eaten by a barracuda before he was hatched, making Marlon hyper-cautious of the outside world. Nemo is tired of being babied, and in an act of defiance, he swims into the open ocean towards a boat. Before he can return to the safety of the reef, a scuba diver scoops Nemo up and takes him away in a bag. Now, his dad must set out on an across-the-ocean adventure to find his son. Unfortunately, the only fish who knows which way the boat went is Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who suffers from short term memory loss. 

"Finding Nemo" is the fifth film released by Pixar, and it is certainly one of their best. It tells the story of a clownfish named Marlin, voiced by Albert Brooks, who suffered a great loss when his wife and most of his soon-to-be hatched children were eaten by a barracuda. Pretty terrifying, right? These tragic beginnings would kind of become a tradition for Pixar and are now par for the course by parent company Disney, which has an affinity towards killing off one or both parent figures at some point within most of its films. Marlin's only remaining child is named Nemo, voiced by Alexander Gould, who was left with an underdeveloped fin as result of the attack. This experience makes Marlin an overprotective father, never wanting to let Nemo out of his sights for more than a few seconds. This is perhaps the most dominant theme of the movie, knowing when to let your kids go so they can explore the world for themselves. If Marlin had ever cut Nemo some slack, Nemo wouldn't have acted in defiance of his father. This defiance ultimately gets him taken by a scuba diver. After Nemo is taken, Marlin sets off after the diver's boat, but loses it in the chase. He then meets the only fish able to help him, a Blue Tang named Dory, voiced by Ellen Degeneres, who unfortunately suffers from short term memory loss. Together, the anxious Marlin and the relaxed but forgetful Dory must explore the vast and deep ocean to find little Nemo against all odds big and small.

As we mentioned above, "Finding Nemo" is one of the best movies under the Pixar banner. It is such a touching, fun, sweet film, a wonderful adventure filled with excitement and peril. It is also extremely funny, filled with humor both adults and kids will smile about long after the movie has ended. Perhaps the funniest parts of the film come when Nemo is placed in a fish tank in a dentist's office after being captured. Scared and thinking he's alone, he quickly realizes where he is, surrounded by a magnificent, lively cast of characters who have been in the tank for far too long. His tank mates are voiced by the likes of Brad Garrett, Willem Dafoe, Allison Janney, Austin Pendleton, Stephen Root, Vicki Lewis, and Joe Ranft. Some of the movie's most amusing moments come from this oddball group found within the fish tank as they constantly plan their escape. They also work together to help with Nemo's morale and lift his swindling spirits as he adjusts to life in a tank. Much of the rest of the humor comes from Dory and her condition. As forgetful as she is, she always seems to know what to say, and we see and hear Ellen Degeneres' irresistible charm shine through Dory brilliantly. Albert Brooks is a great comedian in his own right. The dry wit in his delivery is perfect for an overprotective parent type. Though he mostly functions as a straight man here, we admire Marlin's resolve to find his son in the face of great adversity, even when he's scared and doesn't know where he's going.

We absolutely love this movie. We find ourselves completely enthralled by the story each time we watch it. The animation is still some of the best Pixar has ever produced, containing bright, flashy colors, vast oceanic landscapes, and iconic, interesting creatures. It's fun and exciting, mixes happiness with many emotional lessons about life, parenthood, and friendship, and combines the many hazards of life and the sea with the emotions of self-exploration and letting go. "Finding Nemo" is everything you want a movie to be. We love this just as much today as we did 13 years ago when we saw it in the theater when it was first released.

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "San Andreas"

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