174. Finding Nemo

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Movie: Finding Nemo

Release Date: May 30, 2003

Director: Andrew Stanton

Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney,

Tag Lines: “71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. That’s a lot of space to find one fish.”

“Grab shell dude!”

“There are 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean, they’re looking for one.”

“Sea it.”

“Wet Yourself!”

“Fish are just like people, only flakier.”

“You’ve never seen fish prepared like this.”

“Come Fly With Me.”

“Jaws Will Drop.”

“From the Creators of Monsters, Inc.”

Relevance: Going to the theater to see a movie is always a treat for me. Going to the theater with a six year old to see an animated movie is beyond a treat. There is something magical about that experience when the six year old is your son. It’s exciting. It’s like going to Disney World. In 2003, my six year old son and I went to Disney World, sort of. We went to see ‘Finding Nemo’ in the theater, which was a lot cheaper, cooler and surprisingly emotional than a trip to Florida.

My son and I were already fans of ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Monster’s Inc.’ (see 186. Toy Story and 242. Monsters, Inc.), and once we saw the trailer for ‘Finding Nemo’ we were both sold. I worked in a small mall (its nickname was actually “the small”) in upstate New York at the time and on my rare Sunday off took him to the theater at “the small” to see the film. He always got so excited when we went to the theater. We had our drinks, our popcorn and picked out our seats in the crowded space, both of us giddy for the feature presentation.

What made me a fan of Pixar was their respect for their audience. Yes, the focus was definitely on the younger viewers, but they also kept in mind who was bringing those younger viewers to see their movies. The stories and humor were geared to both and it made watching their films more than tolerable. ‘Finding Nemo’ was no different.

Both my son and myself laughed our way through the joy that was this movie. It had a beautiful story and message, but lots and lots of laughs, thanks mostly to the great voice acting by Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres. They were simply fantastic, as was the rest of the familiar voices behind those fishy characters. I don’t know what it was about the movie, but I found myself in actual tears at the end of the film. The bond that Marlin and Nemo had as a father and son was so real, with my own son sitting right next to me, it really touched me. As the theater lights dimmed up, I composed myself as best I could. The car ride home was spent with my son reliving and acting out his favorite moments of the film.

‘Finding Nemo’ remained a favorite for both of us for years. We owned the VHS and the DVD and watched it numerous times, too many to count. It never got old for us, no matter how old we got. We both even enjoyed its sequel ‘Finding Dory,’ although sadly I saw that movie alone as my son, then nineteen, saw it with his girlfriend at the time. As much as you sometimes want, you can’t stop them from growing up. Like Marlin, you need to let them swim off into their own path in life.

Today’s Thoughts: When I told my son I was watching ‘Finding Nemo’ today and asked if he remembered seeing it that first time, his response was “I remember liking it.” When I asked if he wanted to watch it with me again, he said, “There’s a soccer match on.” Now at twenty-three, soccer trumps animated fish. So, sans son, I watched ‘Finding Nemo’ alone.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of watching this now classic Pixar film. It is just as wonderful, beautiful and funny as it was the first time I watched it in the theater. The characters are so lovable you can’t help but get wrapped up in their adventures. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres are the perfect “voice” team. They play off each other so well and made me laugh out loud numerous times. Dory speaking whale will always make me laugh. Always. The rest of the talented cast, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett and Allison Janney are equally fantastic. And of course no Pixar animated film would be complete without the voice talent of John Ratzenberger. The school of Moon Fish scene is definitely a highlight in a movie filled with highlights.

There are nine animated films on my list of most influential movies of all time. ‘Finding Nemo’ is the fifth to appear with only one more Pixar film to appear later this year. Although it may not be my favorite Disney or Pixar animated film, ‘Finding Nemo’ is still a glorious production and a movie that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Thomas Newman (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound Editing, Gary Rydstrom, Michael Silvers (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Animated Feature (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Animated Feature (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Animated Film (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Disney+, DVD Availability.

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