Review: Finding Nemo (2003)

Don’t get too excited folks, I’m probably taking another long break from Pixar after this, I’ll be back don’t worry, but I have marathons that need to be finished!

Screenplay By: Bob Peterson, David Reynolds & Andrew Stanton
Directed By: Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich

I’m resisting the urge right now to go into a long rant about how Andrew Stanton is far and away the second best animated director going today, topped only by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. Lasseter, Bird, Kon, Docter, Peterson and the duo of Musker & Clements are all great, but they all pale in comparison (for arguments sake I’m leaving Takahata out of the equation until I physically see a new movie from him as opposed to yet another rumor) to Stanton. I am resisting though, because I want to save that for my review of another Stanton film that will come later down the line, but in my Finding Nemo review I will not hesitate to let you know just how great Andrew Stanton is as a director.

Now that my little rant is over with I would like for you to do me a favor and look at the screenshot I grabbed for this review again…

Okay, you looked, right? I’m wondering what you see when you look at that picture, because what I see is a summation of why Finding Nemo is such an incredible film. Obviously the fantastic animation of Pixar is on display, but you have two great characters, and in that lone shot you have many of the themes of the film presented in very subtle fashion. I mean, look at the picture, it’s just one fish swimming away from another fish, no big deal, right? Finding Nemo is just one father looking for his son, no big deal, right? You should have answered no to both of those questions by the way, at least you should have as long as you aren’t a certain critic I can’t stand right now who fails to grasp the concept of layered storytelling in any way. But, I’m not going to lambaste him again, it’s just a waste of time. What I need to focus on is conveying to you how deep and layered Finding Nemo is despite its outwardly simple facade.

Finding Nemo isn’t just the simple tale of a father trying to find his lost son, oh no, it is so much more than that. Finding Nemo is an adventure tale, it is a story of bonding, a story of finding that one thing that makes life worth living, of fighting to survive, of laughing every now and then, of letting loose, of allowing people to make mistakes in their decisions. That’s quite a bit on the table, and that’s without noting Pixar’s usual wit and emotion driven story. You can peel back layer after layer of Finding Nemo and still find something new to discuss or think about, and that is why Andrew Stanton is such a great director and why Pixar has become the clear studio powerhouse in the North American realm.

This is the sort of film full of likable characters, voiced by actors who understand they aren’t just taking a paying gig, they are acting. The animation is as already noted stellar, every frame of Finding Nemo reads like a testament to the beauty and wonder of the ocean. It doesn’t surprise me that Stanton’s next feature, WALL·E, dealt with space because he is clearly a man intent on showing us the great unknown. A hilarious and emotional trek where father searches for son is compelling on its own, but by placing it in the exotic unknown of the ocean Stanton goes right after our love of discovery and seeing something new.

Did I mention that Finding Nemo is fun, because it is, boatloads of fun. Each new character is a delight to discover, every emotional moment is levied against a bit of humor or wit. There isn’t a moment in Finding Nemo where you will find yourself taken out of the grandeur of what you are seeing. I don’t know man, my thoughts are beginning to jumble together, and I find myself having a hard time expressing myself clearly. Finding Nemo is that sort of movie, on the surface it is easy to figure out and easy for me to relate to you. But underneath, underneath it is so deep and full of creamy nuggets of thought that I have a hard time formulating what I truly want to say.

Hopefully I said enough, I probably didn’t though, but my words wouldn’t do Finding Nemo justice no matter how well written they were. Finding Nemo is another wondrous creation from the forces at Pixar and it is one that you need to see for yourself, my words pale in comparison to what you will see, or have seen, in this movie. I know I sound like a broken record when discussing Pixar at this point, but Finding Nemo is another gem from them and it is a gem you owe it to yourself to see.

Rating:

****

Cheers,
Bill

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5 responses to “Review: Finding Nemo (2003)

  1. Great review Bill. Pixar has given us so many wonderful movies but this is my favourite.

  2. ‘Finding Nemo’ has always been my favourite Pixar film, and is still sitting at the top of the hill after having seen ‘The Incredibles’ ‘Ratatoulle’ ‘Wall-E’ and ‘Up’.

    The movie is so beautiful to look at, but the story is well written and the characters are impossible to dislike. I absolutely fall in love with the friendships that build throughout the movie. And the voice acting… utter genius. I saw this in theatres at a time when was a young adult going through that ‘Hollywood does nothing but crap’ phase and it still pierced through my armour. Nay, it smashed my armour to pieces. Brilliant film.

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  5. Dan – It’s a favorite of mine as well, but that’s true for most Pixar films.

    Edgar – The voice acting is very important to the film, with Albert Brooks and Ellen Degeneres being absolutely essential to their roles.

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