“I became obsessed with this premise that fear can deny a good father from being one.” Director/Writer/’Crush’ – Andrew Stanton
Swift shot: Under the Sea . . . in 3D! It’s hard to perfect perfection, but the miracle workers at Pixar seemed to have done just that. When they first started putting together Finding Nemo, they thought of it as Bambi underwater. And, really, that is exactly what they achieved. It is a magical, treacherous story about a father doing anything to get back his lost son and the critters move with a natural authenticity that makes these fish seem like more than just digital images on a screen. The “fish are friends,” in other words, “not food.” It’s now a classic story of one father’s overprotective nature actually causing his son to become lost. The film’s creator, Stanton brilliantly captures the trap that is fatherhood, a delicate balance of being friend and protector and hoping that whatever you do is always “the right thing.” This is a must see for dads or dads to be.
Marlin (Albert Brooks) plays an unfunny clown fish, who right from the start learns that life can be cruel and yet full of wonder. As his mate, Coral is taken early in the film, and all but one of their eggs is lost. One small cracked egg with a glimmer of hope, Nemo (Alexander Gould) emerges to be raised alone by his very protective father. You can’t really blame a fish who has lost everything in a matter of seconds for being a little protective. Not to mention that his son has yet another hardship in that he was born with a slightly smaller right fin, which his dad lovingly refers to as his “lucky fin.” But, all this overbearing concern smothers Nemo on his first day of school. Again, fate intervenes and Nemo is now lost, but Marlin will stop at nothing to get him back. His journey becomes legend.
Immediately after Nemo is lost, Marlin literally runs into Dory, a blue tang with a short-term memory disorder played by the incredibly talented Ellen DeGeneres. While her real face is never on screen, the over-exaggerated expressions the Pixar team gave her will always make me laugh . . . like on the worst day of my life, that Dory will always make me laugh. I sure hope so anyway. She is overly optimistic, which is needed to balance the ever pessimistic Marlin.
Shortly after they run into one another, they make the company of a trio of sharks: a Great White . . . named Bruce (Barry Humphries); Anchor, the crazed Hammer Head (Eric Bana) and Chum, a Mako shark with a bit of an impulse control issue. Oddly enough though, Nemo and Dory manage to survive the encounter, which is all ‘shot’ in a sunken submarine surrounded by unexploded mines. The tightness of that sequence, contrasted with the vastness of the big blue is well translated into 3D.
Nemo is not dead; he has been placed in an aquarium at a well renowned dentist’s in Sydney. He might have endured there too, if not for the fact that the dentist has a tendency to give little fish to his niece ‘fish-killer’ Darla (who has her own Psycho music when on screen). Nemo gets the help of his new aquarium friends to try and escape back to the ocean.
His friends in the aquarium are, in order of importance, Gill (Willem Dafoe), Peach (Allison Janney), Bloat (Brad Garrett), Gurgle (Austin Pendleton), Bubbles (Stephen Root – one of my favorite character actors of all time), Deb & (Flo) (Vicki Lewis – another News Radio alum with Root), and Jacques (the late Joe Ranft). There are wonderful sequences in the aquarium that I really got to appreciate at my Cinemark XD screening, particularly when he goes through the volcano to earn his new title of ‘Shark Bait” – hoo haa haa!
All the while as Nemo is trying to escape back to the ocean, his dad is trying to get to him in Sydney. After surviving the sharks, he and Dory must navigate more ocean perils, all whilst Dory keeps forgetting . . . well, everything! They eventually come across a 150 years-young sea turtle named Crush (Stanton), who teaches Marlin that sometimes you have to let a kid try on their own, or they will never grow. Crush’s son, Squirt (Son of Pixar’s Brad Bird, Nicholas) provides the real cutesy factor that even Al’Qaeda would be hard pressed to admit isn’t the cutest creature ever created by Disney! I mean, lock them in a room with Squirt for six months and see if they are still so mean . . . just sayin’.
Finding Nemo is a heart-warming story, but its got adventure, style, comedy and a great message about courage and faith of the heart when hope is the only thing that lets you “just keep swimming.” Visually it is perfect, exceeding what I could possibly ever imagine it would be like to live under the sea. At times, with the 3D, you really do become immersed, in every sense of that word, in the ocean.
If you’ve never seen the original Finding Nemo, get out there tonight and watch it in 3D, it is the same movie, there weren’t any real gimmicky additions to the film that I could find, personally. When the film-makers decided to do the 3D version, they clearly dissected each scene, but as the original film was already impeccably rendered in 2D, with such amazing attention to detail, it was almost like in 2003 they planned on doing this someday. Finding Nemo is one of those films I really appreciated in 3D. For the record, I never saw the 2D in theaters, but my original DVD is due for a Blu-Ray upgrade . . . how about yours?