Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Finding Nemo – There’s No Place Like Home, Even If It’s An Anemone

Written by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, and David Reynolds
Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich

Pixar continued its string of great animated children’s films with Finding Nemo. Like many other offerings from Pixar, it features a great story with characters who come to life through amazing vocal talents and great computer-generated animation.

Marlin and Coral are two clown fish who are starting a family and have moved into a new home – prime real estate. Unfortunately, their happiness is short-lived due to an encounter with a big fish with lots of sharp teeth. Marlin and one of their eggs survive.

Marlin, who was a worrier to start with, becomes very overprotective of his son, whom he names Nemo. Nemo has a left fin that is smaller than his right one. His father is reluctant to let him go to school. The day he finally is persuaded to cut the apron strings a little bit is the day of a class trip. Worrying that something will happen to Nemo, Marlin follows them out.

On a dare and because of his father’s over-protectiveness, Nemo gets caught by a scuba diver who scoops him up for his aquarium. Marlin tries to go after them but soon loses the trail. He encounters Dory, who states she has seen the boat. She also has issues with short-term memory. This is both humorous and irritating; humorous more for the audience and irritating for Marlin.

However, the two are soon off in pursuit of the boat with the help of some sharks, sea turtles, a whale, and a pelican.

Nemo, meanwhile, has found some friends in the aquarium, including a tough-looking angel fish named Gil. They try to help him adjust to life in the aquarium, but there’s also a deadline looming for Nemo’s imminent departure into the hands of Darla. The man who caught Nemo is a Dentist and she is his niece who‘s known for accidentally killing fish. The aquarium is in his office. With his new friends, Nemo attempts a series of breakouts, all designed to get back to the ocean and his home.

Finding Nemo is humorous as well as teaches lessons about life in a subtle way. Like many great animated films recently, it works well for both adults and children. Children might not relate the club the sharks form to a typical AA meeting, but adults watching the film will get it. The lessons about facing your fears and living life are good for everyone.

The talented line-up of stars providing the voices is amazing:

Albert Brooks …. Marlin
Ellen DeGeneres …. Dory
Alexander Gould …. Nemo
Willem Dafoe …. Gill
Brad Garrett …. Bloat
Allison Janney …. Peach
Austin Pendleton …. Gurgle
Stephen Root …. Bubbles
Vicki Lewis …. Deb/Flo
Joe Ranft …. Jacques
Geoffrey Rush …. Nigel
Andrew Stanton …. Crush
Elizabeth Perkins …. Coral
Nicholas Bird …. Squirt
Bob Peterson …. Mr. Ray
Barry Humphries …. Bruce
Eric Bana …. Anchor
Bruce Spence …. Chum
Bill Hunter …. Dentist
LuLu Ebeling …. Darla
Jordan Ranft …. Tad
Erica Beck …. Pearl
Erik Per Sullivan …. Sheldon
John Ratzenberger …. Fish School

Ellen DeGeneres as Dory really made the film for me. I never really cared for her deadpan comedy, but in the character of Dory, it’s perfect. As she keeps forgetting things such as Nemo’s name, she rattles through a series of names (Fabio, Chico, Harpo, Elmo…) as nonchalantly as can be, which is convincing as the parts she forgets aren’t accentuated. She comes off as adorable and aggravating at the same time, no easy feat to pull off.

I also enjoyed Willem Dafoe as Gil. The character really had the feel of being something like the character he portrayed in Platoon only as a fish, including the battle scars from his many attempts at escape.

The animation is stunning. I was hesitant to embrace computer-generated animation over the traditional hand-drawn cells, but Pixar is fast winning me over. The underwater world the animators at Pixar have created is as vibrant and full of life as anything above the waves. The details are incredible from everything down to the coloring of the fish and the movement of the tentacles of jellyfish. The world of the aquarium in the office is handled well, too, and works as the people and fish seem to inhabit the same world, not exclusive of each other.

I was able to view this one time outdoors at the movie screen around the campfire at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. It’s really a great visual film to see while sitting outdoors like that. The backdrop of the ocean seemed to blend in with the night sky around us, although some of the vibrancy of the colors got a little lost. Still, if you have the opportunity to see it on a large screen outdoors, it’s worth it.

The DVD is great to have in the home. My kids will watch Finding Nemo over and over again. They enjoy it and so do I, much better than some of the other animated shows and movies they like which drive me insane after a short time and contain stupid gags rather than some quality humor.


” Filmmaker Commentary with deleted scenes and recording sessions
Making Nemo: A Special Documentary
The Art of Nemo as narrated by the artists themselves
” Virtual Aquariums
” French and Spanish subtitles
Exploring the Reef with Jean-Michel Cousteau and friends from Finding Nemo
Knick Knack short subject animation from Pixar (available with commentary)
” Sneak Peak at The Incredibles
” Play “Fisharades” With Your Favorite School of Fish
” Learning Fun with Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia
Behind the Scenes on a tour of Pixar Studios
” Read-Along Storytime

2 replies »

  1. I recently bought “The Incredibles” in 4K UHD Blu, but I have not yet watched it. I have seen the movie on DVD; I remember writing a review of it for Epinions back in the day.

    I also saw “Finding Nemo’ a while back, also on DVD. It was the last birthday present I remember giving my friend Richard before he died of kidney cancer back in 2007. Good movie, and I love the cast. I don’t think I’ll get it any time soon, though. I have way too many things on pre-order for September and October!