Feb 6, 2015

[Movies] Finding Nemo (2003)

Pixar movies are generally well-loved and I thought it might be fun to fill in the gaps in my review record by finally going back over the big stuff. If I happen to have a review for Cars then I should get to the better stuff, right? And so this is the first movie that I really want to dive into in terms of my backlog.

Finding Nemo was a unique movie event that certainly helped demonstrate the unique brand of storytelling that we've come to expect from the guys at Pixar. The movie remains to be an amazing balance of the sort of emotional tale that pulls at your heartstrings but it also has a lot of great humor that's appropriate for all ages.

Given the more recent news of an upcoming sequel, Finding Dory, that is set for release in June 2016. And as much as I'd love for Pixar to focus on more original stories and essentially creating new movie franchises, this is definitely one Pixar property that I'm rather glad that they're going back to. I'm scared about what is left for them to explore given how solid the original movie remains to be.

Synopsis: Finding Nemo is a 2003 CGI animated film co-written and directed by Andrew Stanton together with co-screenwriters Bob Peterson and David Reynolds. The movie won the Academy Award and the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film among many other awards and citations.

We are introduced to a family of clownfish, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) as they watch over the clutch of eggs. However a barracuda attack results in the loss of Coral and all but one of the eggs. Marlin is traumatized and decides to devote all of his attention to raising the egg and keeping the egg safe. The egg results in Marlin's only son Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has a smaller right fin that hampers his ability to swim efficiently.

Thus the father and son pair grow up together, although Marlin has become significantly overprotective of Nemo and forbids him from risking just about anything. But now that he's old enough to go to school with other fish, Marlin is particularly nervous. And during that first field trip with the other fish, Nemo manages to get captured by a human diver and thus is taken away. Marlin desperately attempts to find him and his only aid in this search is the unlikely companion Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who also happens to experience short term memory loss on a regular basis.

The core story at this show is just endearing - the lengths that father will go to save his son. And that seems like an old concept that many other stories might have followed as well, but this movie really made sure to distill the key components of this sort of tale in order to elevate it to a different level of art. 

Like many other Pixar movies, a lot of its success relies on the quality of the characters involved, and this movie has some amazingly memorable character. Whether you're drawn to Marlin's jitteryness, Dory's innocent forgetfulness, or just how adorably scary Bruce the Shark (Barry Humphries) is. So many strong characters each with their moments to shine in this movie. And you don't always see that across movies, especially for animated ones. But Pixar has never really cut corners just because people used to think that cartoons are only for kids.

And then you just take a step back and admire how beautiful the movie is from a visual perspective as well. Seriously, this is a movie set in the very depths of the ocean, a part of the planet that we certainly don't see enough. And the Pixar animators brought this world to life with vibrant colors and amazingly accurate movement. Even when the fish are doing "unnatural" things like form into shapes in order to communicate directions, you can totally appreciate how their movements still felt bound within the confines of reality. And there's something almost hypnotic by the shimmer and shine you see as the fish move about.

And we can't get over the humor of the movie. Sure, people like Ellen DeGeneres are already comedians by profession, but it takes a careful combination of good writing and excellent acting to really deliver those punchlines in a brilliant manner. And Dory isn't necessarily floating around telling jokes - she's mostly oblivious to the inappropriateness of her statements at times and that's where her humor lies. And this movie really presents the Pixar brand of humor in a truly brilliant manner.

There's not much else I can say about the movie that hasn't already been said before. Finding Nemo is just one of those now-classic movies that brilliantly appeals to audiences of all ages and has a good story to tell. Thus the movie obviously gets 5 awesome turtles enjoying the East Australian Current out of a possible 5.

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