Marlin is an overly cautious clownfish and is scared to let his son, Nemo, out of his sight. But he is forced to race out into the unknown when Nemo is captured by humans. He collides into Dory, a well-meaning fish who suffers from extreme short-term memory loss, and together they set off across the ocean on a rescue mission. Meanwhile, Nemo must try to escape before falling into the hands of an overzealous fish loving little girl.
Finding Nemo (2003) – Director: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Running Length: 100 mins
Starring: Albert Brookes, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Defoe
Genre: Animated, Action / Adventure
As the fifth movie released from animation studio, Pixar, ‘Finding Nemo’ had some big boots to fill. ‘Toy Story’ 1 and 2, ‘A Bugs Life’ and ‘Monsters Inc’ had all established Pixar as a heavyweight maker of enchanting children’s movies and momentum was gathering nicely for the studio. Even so, on release ‘Finding Nemo’ wowed both children and adults alike and it is easy to see why. On a purely visual level the sheer detail of the underwater world is astonishingly gorgeous to look at. There is barely a piece of screen that isn’t crammed with some feature or other of marine life. The ocean, much like ‘Finding Nemo’ itself, is stuffed to the gills with life.
By focusing on the story of a desperate father trying to find his kidnapped son, ‘Finding Nemo’ gains an emotional gravity that ensures the movie grips its audience long after the beautiful images have faded. On the flip side, there are plenty of genuine belly laughs to ensure that the journey does not become too intense. Be it the chilled out sea turtles riding the currents, the ravenous but stupid seagulls squawking ‘Mine!’ repeatedly, or the shark self-help group: ‘Finding Nemo’ is as rich in comedy as it is genuine in drama. The relationship between the overly cautious Marlin and the scatterbrained Dory is constantly entertaining and Nemo finding himself enrolled in various fish tank escape plans adds a wonderfully tight contrast to the vast scale of the ocean that Marlin and Dory are trying to cover. The variety of endearing characters are packed into the movie like sardines in a tin, and as a result ‘Finding Nemo’ remains as fresh now as it was on release nearly a decade ago.
IS ‘FINDING NEMO’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The majority of ‘Finding Nemo’ is good fun for ages 4 and up but there are some scenes that we would like to bring to the attention of parents if they are thinking of watching the movie with small children.
The opening scene introduces a clownfish couple, Marlin and Coral. They are excited about moving into a new ‘home’ and we see that they are about to raise a family as they have many small red eggs in an enclave. However a large, aggressive and sharp toothed fish arrives without warning. Coral makes a dash to protect the eggs and Marlin is knocked unconscious. When he comes to there is no sign of Coral and all but one of the eggs have gone. Mariln openly sobs his loss before resolving to protect the one remaining egg, which he named ‘Nemo’. Although this is quite a brief scene, lasting under two minutes, we advise caution as it is at the very start of the movie.
The scene where Nemo is taken could be a little scary for younger children. Nemo is captured by a scuba diver and because of scale, the diver looks huge in comparison to the fish characters the audience have already been introduced to. Nemo panics and screams for help from Marlin who chases after him. However the diver soon gets on a speed boat and zooms out of sight. Marlin’s distress is focused on for around 1 minute whilst he chases the boat but he then crashes into Dory. Dory’s introduction provides a lot of comedy and her decision to join him on his search for Nemo ensures there is a balance between the humour of their ‘odd couple’ pairing and Marlin’s desperation to find his son.
Shortly after this introduction, the camera pans out to reveal a huge sharp toothed shark, Bruce. Bruce is featured prominently in the artwork for ‘Finding Nemo’ so it is likely that a child may recognise him from a DVD case. Bruce’s dialogue makes several puns on eating Marlin and Dory but the tension is quickly diffused into another comedy scene involving a self-help group for sharks to try to stop eating fish. That said, one shark opens its mouth and a small skeleton falls out although the scene is played comically and so shouldn’t be too scary. However, things become much more action orientated when some stray blood causes Bruce to enter into a feeding frenzy. He aggressively pursues Marlin and Dory and repeatedly says how much he wants to eat them. His eyes change from the cartoonish white with black pupils to the much more sinister black eyes, usually associated with real-life predatory sharks. His large head and mouth is featured in close up constantly and this scene may be scary for some children. The pursuit is broken up a little by two other sharks apologising for his behaviour and trying to hold him back, so the action again has some comedy happening simultaneously. This scene lasts around 2 – 4 minutes.
Another potentially scary moment is when Marlin and Dory come across a pilot fish. The pilot fish is around 5 times the size of them and has massive jutting out teeth. It chases Marlin and snarls at him but this sequence is interspersed with funny moments of Dory trying to read something (using the pilot fish’s light to do so) and so the fear factor shouldn’t be too intense.
When the film cuts back to Nemo he is very distressed at his captive situation. This moment lasts around 1 minute and is followed up by more characters being introduced in a funny fashion. Later Nemo is involved in an escape attempt which involves him having to wiggle through some water cleaning mechanism. The plan hits trouble and he finds himself potentially about to be killed by the machinery. Nemo panics and calls for help desperately in this brief but intense moment.
Also, the movie makes it clear through implication that when a fish is ‘belly up’, it is dead. This then happens once or twice later and may upset children kids – although it quickly becomes clear that there are other factors at play.
One final scene worth mentioning are when Marlin believes that Nemo is dead (although we as the audience have seen other information that Marlin has missed). He becomes inconsolable and shuns Dory in his misery. Dory becomes distraught and doesn’t know how to continue without Marlin’s direction. This breakdown of a previously strong comedy relationship lasts approximately 3 minutes and could be quite sad for some children.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
We feel that ‘Finding Nemo’ is an excellent movie for children of all ages and most of the potentially upsetting moments are interspersed with or quickly followed up by comedy and so should not be too strong. With its various cast of colourful characters and deeply relatable storyline of a father and son, we are confident that most children will find ‘Finding Nemo’ a deeply entertaining and enthralling experience. However, there are moments when the action could be quite scary for younger kids of around 3 – 5 and so we recommend adult supervision on first viewing. Otherwise, there should be little that will adversely affect ages 6 and above.
- Violence: 1/5 (aside from the shark attack scene there is a scene involving jellyfish which results in a permanent injury for a character)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5
- Fear Factor: 2/5 (the moment with the pilot fish is set in the deep ocean where there is no sunlight and so the dark combined with the large toothed fish may scare young kids)
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 0/5
- Dialogue: 2/5 (aside from dialogue associated with emotional distress, at one point Nemo says ‘I hate you’ to his father who is shocked to hear him say this. Also when Marlin and Dory encounter a whale he shouts ‘It’ll ingest us and spit out our bones!”)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of overcoming fears, the dangers of overprotection and opening yourself up to outside help
Words by Mike Record
A delightful undersea world unfolds in Pixar's animated adventure Finding Nemo. When his son Nemo is captured by a scuba diver, a nervous clownfish named Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) sets off into the vast--and astonishingly detailed--ocean to find him. Along the way he hooks up with a scatterbrained blue tang fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who's both a help and a hindrance, sometimes at the same time. Faced with sharks, deep-sea anglers, fields of poisonous jellyfish, sea turtles, pelicans and much more, Marlin rises above his neuroses in this wonderfully funny and thrilling ride--rarely do more than 10 minutes pass without a sequence appearing that's destined to become a theme-park attraction. Pixar continues its run of impeccable artistic and economic successes (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc). Supporting voices here include Willem Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush and Allison Janney. --Bret Fetzer