Finding Nemo, the final recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of The Lion King was the Pixar film that cemented my love for them.
Yes, I totally enjoy Toy Story 1 & 2 as well as A Bug’s Life, but Finding Nemo made my affection for Pixar a permanent thing. I can recognise that not all of their films have been as strong as their best entries, but they always entertain.
And Finding Nemo has such a strong story. Albert Brooks voices Marlin, a clowfish, who after losing his wife, Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) is bringing up his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould) on his own. He’s overprotective, and terrified that he may lose his son.
Which is exactly what happens.
His over-protectiveness spurns on a rebellious moment in young Nemo that sees him caught by scuba divers collecting fish.
Thus begins a journey of epic proportions as Marlin tries to track the boat down. Aided by a forgetful Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) the two find themselves on an fantastic adventure encountering a shark named Bruce (Barry Humprhies) – a subtle nod to Jaws – a surfer turtle, Crush (Andrew Stanton) crazy seagulls and a whale!
Nemo has an adventure of his own, while trying to find a way out of his fishtank which he shares with an odd collection of fish, including Gill (Willem Dafoe) and Peach (Allison Janney), not to mention visits from a friendly pelican, Nigel (Geoffrey Rush).
Simply stunning to look at, the underwater realm comes to life like never before, walking a fine line between realistic (backgrounds and locations) to the slightly surreal (the characters walk a fine line between looking real and cartoonish).
The story is beautifully told, and shows that Pixar is willing to deal with darker topics like death and loss, but also can make a film that entertains both children and adults. They have perfected the family film with this picture. This fact is demonstrated by the Academy recognising them with the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
I love how these films look, the textures of characters, and their surroundings – the particles floating in the water, the vibrant colours, the brilliant voice acting and they dialogue they spout, and, of course, the story.
Pixar films have grown increasingly beautiful over the years, but this one definitely helped set the standard. The coral reef, the submarine, the jellyfish, the fishtank, all of these and countless more are simply gorgeous.
Everything pays off with a rousing climax that satisfies emotionally and thematically. The story is about parenting, letting go, family, and belonging, and it tells its tale beautifully.
Pixar amazes, and entertains. I love these films.
And of course, who doesn’t look forward to John Ratzenberger’s cameo in these films?