Review of Finding Nemo

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A clown fish named Marlin living in the Great Barrier Reef loses his son, Nemo, after he ventures into the open sea, despite his father's constant warnings about many of the ocean's dangers. Nemo is abducted by a boat and netted up and sent to a dentist's office in Sydney. So, while Marlin ventures off to try to retrieve Nemo, Marlin meets a fish named Dory, a blue tang suffering from short-term memory loss.
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Movie Review: "Finding Nemo"

-- Rating: G
Release Date: May 30, 2003
Directed By: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Comedy / Family

Anyone who has watched "Finding Nemo" may never look at the ocean the same way again. The movie captured the hearts of young and old alike with its cast of ocean dwellers, each with a distinct, larger-than-life personality. Although written for children, the story of a single father trying to find his young son resonated with the parents, propelling "Finding Nemo" into the mainstream as a true family film.

The tale begins in Australia's Great Barrier Reef with two clownfish, Marlin and Coral, eagerly waiting for their clutch of eggs to hatch. A marauding barracuda puts a crimp in those plans by consuming Coral and all of the eggs except one, which eventually produces their son, Nemo.

Marlin serves as the sometimes overprotective and always neurotic single father to Nemo, an adventurous young clownfish who wants just wants to explore, have fun, and do all the things his father tells him not to do. On Nemo's first day of school, Marlin finds out that the class is going on a field trip to the drop-off at the edge of the reef, and he panics. Playing the quintessential helicopter parent, Marlin follows the class, but to no avail. Nemo, embarrassed by his father's hovering, acts on a dare from one of his classmates and swims away from the group. He is quickly captured in a diver's net and is sent to live in an aquarium in a dentist's office in Sydney.

Determined to find his son, Marlin sets out and soon meets up with a blue tang, Dory, who suffers from short-term memory loss. The remainder of the movie jumps back and forth between Marlin and Dory's attempts to find Nemo as they wander the open ocean and Nemo's attempts to escape the dentist's aquarium with the assistance of his aquarium mate, Gill.

Nemo eventually escapes and reunites with his father, but their relationship takes on a new tone. Marlin recognizes that his son is more prepared for the real world than he thought, and Nemo recognizes that fathers really do know best. All in all, the movie sends a very loud and clear message about friends and family without being preachy.

The characters are voiced by a talented ensemble of actors, including Albert Brooks as Marlin, Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, Alexander Gould as Nemo, and Willem Dafoe as Gill. This was the first time for each of them doing voice work on a feature-length animated film, but every one of them hit the ball out of the park, and few people could imagine anyone else doing the voices of these characters.

"Finding Nemo" set plenty of records. When it was first released by Pixar in 2003, it had the biggest opening weekend of any animated film, grossing more than $70 million. By the end of 2011, global ticket sales topped $868 million. When released on DVD, the movie also set a new record in home-release sales, selling eight million copies on the first day, either digitally or on DVD. Pixar rereleased "Finding Nemo" in 3-D in 2012 to much acclaim, netting more than $17 million on its opening weekend.

The movie has won its fair share of awards, including a 2004 Oscar for the Best Animated Film, nine Annie awards, a Critic's Choice Award for Best Animated Feature, and the Favorite Movie Award from the Kids' Choice Awards. Ellen DeGeneres was presented with the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Dory, as well as Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie at the Kids' Choice Awards.

Since Pixar's movies and characters are planned years before the movies are made, viewers might have noticed Nemo's first appearance in the movie "Monsters, Inc.," as a stuffed toy on the couch in Boo's room. In "Finding Nemo," Pixar also introduces a few characters that will eventually star in future films. A young boy in the Sydney dentist's office is reading a Mr. Incredible comic book in homage to the upcoming "The Incredibles." Luigi, the main character in "Cars," can be seen driving by the dentist's office.

"Finding Nemo" may be an animated film designed for children, but it will warm the hearts of people of all ages. Its high-quality animation and the lifelike personalities behind the characters set a new bar for these types of films. This is a true family movie that will keep parents and children engaged while reinforcing the message that friends and family are the most important things in life.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars