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A Second Look: Finding Nemo
In 2003, Andrew Stanton released Finding Nemo which starred Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Stanton, Barry Humphries, Geoffrey Rush, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Austin Pendleton, Stephen Root, Vicki Lewis, Joe Ranft, John Ratzenberger, Bob Peterson, Eric Bana, Bruce Spence, Bill Hunter, Elizabeth Perkins, Jess Harnell, Jan Rabson, and Marc John Jeffries. The film grossed $936.7 million at the box office and was nominated for multiple awards, including the Academy Award for Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Screenplay, the Annie Awards for Best Outstanding Character Animation (David Devan and Gini Santos) and Outstanding Effects Animation (Justin Paul Ritter), the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture Musiical or Comedy, and the Saturn Awards for Best DVD Special Edition Release, Best Music, and Best Writing. The film also won numerous awards, such as the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, the Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature, Outstanding Character Animation (Doug Sweetland), Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Feature Production, Outstanding Directing in an Animated Feature Production, Outstanding Effects Animation, Outstanding Music in an Animated Feature Production, Outstanding Production Design in an Animated Feature Production, Outstanding Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production, and Outstanding Writing in an Animated Feature Production, and the Saturn Awards for Best Animated Film and Best Supporting Actress.
After losing his mate and all but one of their eggs, Marlin becomes an overprotective father taking care of his only son, Nemo. On the first day of school, Nemo gets fed up with Marlin’s fear and ends up going near a boat. However, he soon gets picked up by a scuba diver causing Marlin to go against all his fears and find him joined by Dory who has short term memory loss.
An enjoyable watch, Finding Nemo is a great film with a fantastic story. Starting out with a neurotic fish who’s that way because of what happened to his mate and the eggs, said fish has to face all his fears at once to bring back the one child that did survive. It’s an adventure that’s got practically everything, from running into the helpful sidekick with a bad memory that uses Marlin as an anchor because he helps her remember to surviving a number of perilous moments due to sheer determination. What’s more is there’s plenty of story on the other side of the journey as well that revolves around a gang of fish continuously conspiring to escape from the tank they’re in. Though they only try one method of escaping in the story, it’s pretty clear that they’ve tried a lot of other plans that obviously didn’t work. The pacing is great too, making it so that neither story gets too much attention and always going from one to the other following a major development from either side until both of them converge.
The messages the film conveys are good ones too. It brings audiences multiple ideas to consider, such as letting your kids live their lives instead of sheltering them from every little danger. In fact, the plot might never have kicked off had Marlin not been so neurotic about Nemo leaving home and trying to keep him from doing anything or making mistakes. Throughout the film, he also learns he has to be more trusting about things that are out of his control and in the hands of others’ abilities, which comes to a head when Dory is telling him to let go in the whale’s mouth. There’s also the message of determination and never giving up, which is brought up as “just keep swimming.” It comes up when Marlin is discouraged after escaping the sharks and minefield with Dory telling him to just keep swimming, which basically becomes her anthem to him throughout the rest of the trip. It obviously works because Marlin keeps swimming and finds Nemo. This message is given a climax as well during the scene with the trawler. Dory is caught up in the net and it’s thanks to Nemo going in and telling everyone to swim down that shows just what can happen when you “keep swimming.”
Notably, the film doesn’t seem to have a true villain outside of the distance and time factors. Bruce and the sharks aren’t really villains as they don’t like eating fish and Bruce only relapses because he smells the accidental blood. At the same time, the jellyfish are simply a swarming and brainless obstacle and the seagulls are creatures with a one-track mind that can only say one word. As for the humans, Dr. Sherman legitimately thought he was doing a good deed. He didn’t maliciously take Nemo. Rather, he believed the fish was dying because he was separated from the reef so he decided to save him. Darla’s also a little child who doesn’t realize that shaking the bag is going to kill the fish. She’s just an excited and overly hyperactive little girl that loves fish a little too much.