Classic Movie Reviews

Classic Review: Finding Nemo (2003)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Finding Nemo” which originally appeared here.

Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has a foreshortened fin. When Nemo swims too close to the surface to prove himself, he is caught by a diver, and horrified Marlin must set out to find him. A blue reef fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who has a really short memory, joins Marlin and complicates the encounters with sharks, jellyfish, and a host of ocean dangers. Meanwhile, Nemo plots his escape from a dentist’s fish tank.

Since I’m seeing Finding Dory soon, I might as well go to where this all started with Finding Nemo. When it was originally released, there weren’t too many animated fish-centered films. That was probably one of its biggest draws. I thought it would have been just like seeing an aquarium on screen. Of course there have been many more fish films since then, even more so than I realized after doing a Google search, this one was the standard.

The film doesn’t waste any time at establishing the relationship between Marlin (Brooks) and Nemo (Gould). Because of an unfortunate event early on, Marlin and Nemo only have each other thus Marlin is a little too overprotective of Nemo since he does not want to lose him. Nemo is too young to understand this so when he tried to swim to the surface to prove himself to his classmates, he is caught by a diver. Horrified, Marlin sets out to find him.

Marlin has lived a pretty sheltered life and this is the most obvious when has to venture out in the open sea to try and find Nemo. He has a hard time finding his way and he has some difficulty interacting with the other fish who think that since he’s a clown fish, that he’s funny which he isn’t. This all changed once he meets a fish named Dory (DeGeneres) who has a really short memory. This along with her carefree personality always seemed to complicate certain interactions and make things more difficult for Marlin. These moments were very fun to watch, watching Marlin and Dory play off of each other and getting into sticky situations. They had great chemistry together.

Even though Nemo (Gould) was gone, he still had a lot of time here with a subplot involving him and a series of other fish named Gill (Wiliem Dafoe), Jacques (Joe Ranft), Gurgle (Austin Pendleton), Peach (Allison Janney), Deb (Vicki Lewis), Bubbles (Stephen Root) and Bloat (Brad Garrett) living in a tank belonging to an Australian dentist. The camaraderie between them all was fun to watch. They were interesting characters and the camaraderie between them was fun to watch but it definitely would have been nice to see a little more of them or at least get some more backstory as it felt like there was still a lot more story there.

The best part of the film, hands down, is DeGeneres’ Dory. This character is one of the biggest reasons this film was so popular and why there’s even a “Finding Dory” in the first place. It is just hard to imagine Dory being voiced by anyone other than DeGeneres. It felt like the character was written specifically for her. She brought so much of her personality here that Dory ended up just being an extension of DeGeneres herself. Dory stole just about every scene she was in, creating one of the most memorable performances. Some of this was DeGeneres herself but a lot of it was also the script which was Oscar nominated. The voice acting was great here all around with Brooks great here as the paranoid Marlin, Gould as a not annoying Nemo, and all the tank fish were great too.

The animation was great here with a lot of vibrant colors and detailed environments (even after all this time) which helped to make Marlin and Dory’s journey compelling to watch. The story in essence is a father-son story with a father willing to fight for the only thing (or person) he has left. The film did a great job at conveying this emotion as you felt along with these characters which is something that doesn’t happen often in films. The film’s plot is simple but what really made it is the journey and it was a great journey full of moments and memorable characters who are too numerous to name.

Overall, this was a classic then, and it is now. This is a great animated film with a great story and memorable moments and characters.

Score: 9/10

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