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Finding Nemo (2003)

There are 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean*, theyre looking for one.

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 104 minutes

UK Certificate: U

Andrew Stanton, the man behind the scripts for Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc. (the last of which he also directed), has now written and directed Pixar’s latest CGI adventure, ‘Finding Nemo’, in which he repeats his now all too familiar formula of presenting a distorted view of our world through the eyes of a community of creatures (this time sealife) which we rarely, if ever, notice. A neurotic clownfish called Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) goes on a comic odyssey across the oceans in search of his missing son Nemo (Alexander Gould). Helped, and sometimes hindered, by the irrepressibly cheery and terminally forgetful Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), Marlin has encounters with all manner of unusual sealife – sharks on a 12-step programme to overcome their killer instincts, stinging jellyfish, surfer-dude turtles, a whale and a gregarious pelican – before attempting a daring rescue from the fishtank of a dental surgery overlooking Sydney Harbour. The first word in ‘Finding Nemo’ is ‘wow!’, uttered by Marlin as he admires the ocean view from his new home on a coral reef, and it is true that this film offers a real feast for the eyes – even if, as was the case with the ‘Toy Story’ films, the film’s CGI stylisation seems far better suited to the nonhuman than to the human characters (who just look gawky). While the keynote of the film is comedy, there are also some serious themes lurking beneath the surface (Pixar is, after all, a subsidiary of Disney). The ocean is portrayed as a genuinely menacing place, full of danger and destruction, and I can think of few other children’s films which begin with the violent death of the main character’s wife and children. Marlin’s crippling anxieties about anything and everything are counterbalanced by Dory’s goldfish-like ethos that one should always forget the past, smile and ‘just keep swimming’, and in the end Marlin learns to ‘let go’ and stop being so overprotective towards his son – but nonetheless the impression remains that there is much in the sea to justify a judicious degree of caution, and the image near the end of Marlin, Dory and Nemo literally swimming with sharks leaves a note of unease. Certainly ‘Finding Nemo’ is destined to make children think hard about the provenance of the fish on their plate in much the way that ‘Babe’ did with bacon. ‘Finding Nemo’ is beautiful to look at, and not without humour, but given that we have already seen this basic storyline done in other Pixar films with toys, bugs and monsters, its waters are starting to taste just a little stale.

It's Got: Exquisite undersea scenes, cute characters and knockabout comedy for the children, film references for the adults (although not quite enough), big teethy predators.

It Needs: More originality, especially when its competition is films like Belleville Rendezvous and Spirited Away.


A fun family film which shows that even a nobody can become a somebody – but with a story that is all too familiar from other Pixar ventures.