Finding Nemo
directed by Andrew
Stanton & Lee Unkrich
(Pixar, 2003)

It's summer, boys and girls. Let's go to a kid's movie! Oftentimes those words bring acute heartburn from bad popcorn, and a pain in one's wallet at the money wasted on a movie with no discernible plot and an overabundance of potty humor. However, at last there is a movie out which meets my strict criteria for a movie that is funny, fresh and has a wonderful message which is neither pounded home nor weepy. I am referring, of course, to Finding Nemo, a Pixar production.

For those who are familiar with Toy Story, or Ice Age, you are certain to be entertained by Finding Nemo, which is a fish story, but what a fish story! It concerns a boy and his widowed dad, who are rattling around in a large suburban sea anemone after the unfortunate death of Coral, Nemo's mother. It should be noted that the same accident that killed Nemo's mother also killed his 399 siblings, and this then fed into Nemo's father, Marlin's, innate neurosis. Nemo has a slight fin problem, and he is considered by his father to be incapable of living an adventurous life, which leads to the initial problem where Nemo is caught and becomes an unwilling part of a dentist's aquarium. During his captivity, Nemo learns to believe in himself, to be braver than he has previously been allowed to be, and also to never give up, now matter how high the odds of victory.

One of the best parts of Finding Nemo is the clever use of voice choices. Albert Brooks as Marlin and Ellen Degeneres as Dorie are both perfectly cast. As two different fish types, Marlin (a clownfish) and Dorie (a blue tang), the undercurrent is that of male versus female, clownfish versus blue tang, and the possibility of subtly letting the audience know that our differences can unite us. In this case, Marlin and Dorie unite to find Nemo, along the way discovering they, too, can overcome their own nemesis: Marlin's fear of life, and Dorie's incapability in maintaining a strong short-term memory. Along the way to finding and retrieving Nemo, one of the more recognizable characters from television ads is Crush, a 150-year-old sea turtle. Crush is the prototypical surfer dude, and some of the biggest laughs in the movie come from his philosophical outlook, and phraseology. "Dude," "Righteous" and "Whoa" are some of the more striking words used by Crush, and this humor ultimately teaches some of the best life lessons. Bruce, the great white shark, also yields some of the most hilarious Australian humor I have heard since The Crocodile Hunter's Steve Irwin opened his mouth.

I do not wish to reveal more of the movie, nor add to one's fear of dentristy, but I can say several things: One of the most difficult things in life is teaching children to have faith in themselves. Not all dentists are inept, incapable, overly loving of evil little nieces or fiercely incompetent at maintaining a suitably soothing environment for both their patients and their fish. This movie is full of messages and inside jokes, all of which unite to create a movie that will amuse even the most jaded filmgoer. Bring a kid along, and be prepared to have some righteous fun.

- Rambles
written by Ann Flynt
published 21 June 2003

Buy it from