Finding Nemo review by The Grim Ringler

After some of the dark and down right unhappy movies I have seen of late Finding Nemo is like one long, hot cup of cocoa sipped slowly by a roaring fire with a nice tune by Engelbert Humperdink playing on the high-fi system. Ok, so it isnt quite that good, but by god, its awful good, and is a cure for whatever may ail ya, thats for sure.

Marlin, a pleasantly neurotic clown fish, and his wife have just moved to the edge of the world, or rather, the edge of their world a cozy little anemone on the edge of the oceans drop off, both hoping that this is the perfect place for them to raise their four hundred children who are getting ready to hatch. Tragedy strikes though when a predatory fish attacks their home and Marlin loses his wife and all of his children save for one, who he finds alone, egg-shell cracked, and this lone survivor he names Nemo, in honor of what his wife had wanted to name one child of the brood. Flash ahead to Nemo as a young fish, one fin, his lucky fin, smaller than the other, a sad reminder of what became of his mother and siblings, and on the verge of beginning school. Marlin is a changed fish, paranoid, over-bearing, afraid of the great bit world that lives just past his home. He knows Nemo needs to get out into the world though and so he takes him to school to meet his teacher and the other children. It becomes readily apparent though that Marlin isnt ready to let Nemo go and is too scarred by the loss of the rest of his family to bear the thought of losing his son. And when Nemo and some other school children play a dangerous game of chicken with a boat, Marlin intervenes and stops the children from doing something very dangerous, but also very, well, child-like, but in stopping them from their play, Marlin also loses Nemo, who tells his father he hates him, shamed at what a coward his father is. And it is in the ensuing confusion, as Nemos teacher comes along to speak with Marlin, that Nemo swims out over the drop off, which looms like a great black mouth, and in daring to defy his father, Nemo is caught by an unseen diver and is taken from his father, who is now frantic, and disappears in seconds, the only proof of what happened being the wake from the boat and an errant diving mask that has fallen into the sea but that bears the address of its owner. Marlin chases after the boat with all he has but soon loses it, unable to keep up with it speed but unwilling to give up the search for his son. Nemo, unable to find any trace of his son, begs every fish he can see for help but none pay him heed save for one, a fish named Dory that insists shes seen where the boat went and takes Marlin to find it. It becomes readily apparent though that Dory, while good intentioned, has no short-term memory and cant even seem to remember who Marlin is, and so it seems as if all hope is lost. Meanwhile Nemo is plopped into the fish tank of a dentist and finds that, while he isnt alone, he is far from his father, and unable to escape. The fish in the tank readily adopt Nemo though and begin hatching their own plan to free their new friend before the dentists niece a horrific looking brat named Darla that has a reputation as a fish killer can come to claim Nemo as her own. Marlin has not quite given up though, and in his search for Nemo, he and Dory find both friend and foe, some fish that even straddle the line between both, and their journey begins to become legendary throughout the sea every fish and bird able to appreciate the tale of a father unable to give up finding his lost son. But can Marlin find Nemo before Darla arrives?

Finding Nemo, the newest animated film from Pixar, who has yet to do wrong with one of their films, is another heart-felt, breathtaking reminder that we have nothing to fear from computer animation. This film will easily stand with the best films of the year come late December and may even have an outside shot at best picture depending on how the films of the year shake out. And yes, its that good. Knowing that with fish you only have their eyes, voices, and fins to express any number of emotions, the animators of Pixar took what they had to work with and ran with it, creating characters that you can immediately empathize with or fear, just because of how their body language comes across. There is a part in the movie where Marlin and Dory come across a group of reformed sharks that are struggling valiantly to give up eating fish, but when one of them gets a taste of blood when Dory hurts herself, his eyes immediately go from big and friendly to small, black chunks of coal, giving what had been a friend a moment earlier, a completely different and frightening new look. And again, you have to hand it to the people that cast the voices for the film because they did a marvelous job, especially with the voice of Marlin, who is played by actor Albert Brooks, whom I have never much liked but who gives a tremendous performance. There is a complexity and sadness to his Marlin which many children may not pick up but that that every adult will, sensing how hard it is for him to stop being frightened and to, as it says in the film just let go. Cheers also go out to the writers as they have created a very deep, very beautiful film that never panders to the audience and never treats the children its aimed at as stupid. There are some very dark themes in this film loss of a parent, of a loved one, abduction, facing your own fears and overcoming them, to name a few but never do these themes get in the way of the story. The film never stops so a character can give a speech, but lets the story tell itself and the fact is, if the kids get all thats going on, awesome, if not, eh, they saw a cute movie about fish. And, while I am loathe to make this sound as if this is the greatest film ever made, I do have to congratulate the animators once more for creating one of the most beautiful animated films of all time. There is a sense of danger they give the ocean, a sense that something is lurking just beyond the murk where we cant see it, or down in the dark places of the ocean, giving Marlins quest a real sense of urgency and danger. But with that danger is a very strong beauty that fills the film with a sense of wonder and mystery and which makes everything you see feel slightly magical and dream-like.

And no, the film is not perfect, and it does feel a bit like they get to a point in the movie and were like whoa, we should start to wrap things up and the climax especially feels rushed, but never does this really hinder what is a truly wonderful film. Filled with action, beauty, drama, and a sense of sadness that Marlin and Nemo both must overcome, Finding Nemo is easily one of the best animated films I have seen. Its beauty is that its complexities never hinder the simple story of a father trying to find his only son and what both must go through to be able to truly love and trust one another.


9 out of 10 Jackasses
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