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Finding Nemo 3D (2003)

September 17, 2012

 

written by: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds

produced by: Graham Walters

directed by: Andrew Stanton

rated: G 

runtime: 100 minutes

U.S. release date: May 20, 2003 (original) September 14, 2012 (3D rerelease)

 

The other day, I told my six year-old daughter that “Finding Nemo” is coming out in theaters in 3D and her only response was, “well, are we going?” Her response was an enthusiastic confirmation that, yes, despite her current insatiable diet of  “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, she is still a fan of Pixar’s award-winning fifth film. That heart-warming answer conjured fond recollections of the countless hours she spent as a toddler glued to the beautiful underwater colors on our home television. Which is why I justified giving in to Disney’s money-grabbing rerelease (let’s call it like it is), with its new “Toy Story” short and 3D allure. Because experiencing this classic for the first time on the big-screen, is an undeniably tempting idea for the two of us – which is what the studio is counting on.

The first line uttered in the screenplay of “Finding Nemo” is “Wow!” and with good reason. The breathtaking underwater view that Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his wife, Cora (Elizabeth Perkins) are admiring is the same scene we are admiring. “Wow!” is exactly how I first felt, and still feel, whenever I return to this beautifully crafted animated feature.

For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie yet (and they’re out there), that serene scene described above ends dark, quick and dramatic way, setting the stage for a neurotic clownfish (Brooks, perfectly cast) to be a overprotecting control-freak to his only son, Nemo (Alexander Gould, who went on to voice Bambi in “Bambi 2”), a confident and plucky fish with a gimpy right fin. It doesn’t take long before the film lives up to its title and kicks off an adventure that finds Marlin desperately searching the seas for his son, who’s been kidnapped by a diving dentist in an act of rebellion aimed at his father.

In his frantic quest, Marlin meets a vast array of creatures, er characters, and survives perilous and outrageous situations, the likes of which he would’ve never imagine himself in. He runs into (literally) a blue Regal Tang named Dorie (Ellen DeGeneres, more genius casting), a friendly and naive fish with a severe case of short-term memory loss. In Marlin, Dorie finds someone who seeks companionship, she feels needed and useful. Marlin doesn’t see it right away, but Dorie unintentionally manages to provide a new outlook on life for the anxious fish, it just takes him getting completely exasperating at every turn and eventually quite humbled.

 

 

Meanwhile, Nemo is taken in by a surrogate family, called the Tank Gang, a colorful assortment of sea critters who live in an aquarium at a dental office in Sydney, Australia. The group, led by the physically scarred Gil (Willem Dafoe), consists of a pufferfish named Bloat (Brad Garrett), Peach the starfish (Alison Janney) and an unstable but loyal trio, Bubbles (Stephen Root), Gurgle (Austin Pendlteon) and Deb (Vicki Lewis). Not to mention one of my favorites, the helpful pelican Nigel (played by Geoffrey Rush). All of them embrace Nemo, as they ensure him that his father is searching for him and look to the little clownfish as their ticket back to the ocean.

The undeniable delight of “Finding Nemo” is meeting and getting to know all these enjoyable characters. They’re fun, memorable and impeccably rendered, but the best part is how they’re written. The screenplay by director Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds has its easy-flowing comic tone intact, but its balanced by an equally present heart and the sobering reality of some hard life lessons. That’s right, amid all the underwater awe (and awwww) there’s palpable drama here, consisting of the death of loved ones (a Disney staple), heartbreak and the realization that all parents must trust let their child enough to swim out on their own. The movie remains a timeless tale of trust and faith in friends and family, albeit one saturated with floating fart bubbles and brazen belches.

“Finding Nemo” has come up over the years in conversations debating which Pixar movie is the best. The answer to that somewhat pointless (yet inevitable) discussion is so subjective, dependent on a variety of factors. Like many of the best Pixar films, the story here is for all ages and while it may be simple, it successfully balances silliness and mature subjects with captivating and enchanting visuals that makes repeat viewings undeniable.

 

 

At first, I was hesitant about this rerelease, especially considering “Finding Nemo” is one of many this year boasting a 3D upgrade (“Beauty and the Beast”, “The Phantom Menace” and “Titanic”), but then I remembered that this has been happening for years. When I was growing up, Disney would give all of their films a theatrical rerelease. It was a big deal then, primarily because animated films weren’t like they are now (in quality and prevalence) and it provided viewers with a chance to either revisit or become introduced to cherished classics. That’s what can happen here with these Disney/Pixar rereleases (“Monsters, Inc” is right around the corner) and “Finding Nemo” finds itself released at a time where an all-ages animated feature is needed in theaters.

If viewers feel like they know “Finding Nemo” from start to finish or have had it up to their gills with the movie (how could they!), well they can still experience something new. No, I’m not talking about the 3D, which is decent (even though the film already excellently captured levels of depth), I’m referring to the “Partysaurus Rex” the latest Toy Story Toon short (the third so far, in case you lost count). It’s absolutely hilarious, a laugh-out-loud blast and worth the price of admission, in my opinion.

After all these years, I’m still thoroughly entertained by “Finding Nemo” and find it to be a satisfying shared viewing experience. From the clever take on the ferocious sharks to the elegant-but-deadly jellies, Stanton’s directorial debut (co-directed by “Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich) remains an impressive achievement for a studio with a team of creative and passionate filmmakers. It still has me laughing, still takes my breath away, still finds me quoting lines, and still gets me choked up in the end.

 

 

 

RATING: ****

 

 

 

 

 

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