Review: Finding Nemo

For any overprotective parent whose ever had issues with their kids taking the car out at night, the film should hit closer to home.

Finding Nemo
Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Pixar’s Toy Story imagined a world where children’s toys come to life. Monsters, Inc. went one further by contemplating a more symbiotic relationship between children and their nightmares. The studio’s latest, Finding Nemo, lacks both this element of fantasy—it’s fish, not the toys or monsters inside your child’s closet that do the talking—or anything remotely as stirring as the free-thinking procedural that dignified A Bug’s Life.

Finding Nemo merely transplants human suburban anxiety to an underwater realm. Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) loses his wife and children and is forced to raise young Nemo (Alexander Gould) by his lonesome. When the young clownfish with the gimp fin is “kidnapped” by a group of fisherman (!) during his first day of school (!!), Marlin tries to find him with the help of a schizophrenic (!!!) blue tang fish named Dory (a hysterical Ellen Degeneres, possibly channeling ex-girlfriend-cum-space-cadet Anne Heche).

While Nemo tries to negotiate his escape from a dentist’s fish tank, Marlin and Dory swim to Sydney, running into whales, surfer turtles, underwater explosions, jellyfish, and sharks (here, addicts trying not to eat fish) along the way. The attention to detail is startling but the film has a way of trivializing the journey of growth that better Pixar films have mystified. Finding Nemo is about trusting your children enough to let them make their own mistakes. It’s a simple lesson, but for any overprotective parent whose ever had issues with their kids taking the car out at night, this adorable, inoffensive creation should hit closer to home.

 Cast: Albert Brooks, Willem Dafoe, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Garrett, Alexander Gould, Barry Humphries, Allison Janney  Director: Andrew Stanton  Screenwriter: Andrew Stanton  Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures  Running Time: 100 min  Rating: G  Year: 2003  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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