Disney, and in some cases more specifically Pixar, know how to tread that fine line between comedy and tragedy. The opening sequence of Finding Nemo is done almost completely off-screen, letting the audience fill the gaps rather than ever confirming what we all know has happened. It is an example of how to make a film which appeals to both the children and adults but on two different levels.
This continues into the beginning of the movie. The kids will see an adult who is over-protective and fussy while the adults will understand the worries of Albert Brook’s Marlin. It is clever storytelling and why Pixar films are so successful and timeless. It is also the reason why when Nemo is taken, the quest to find him is so compelling.
The quest itself is pretty standard of any “road-movie” but with added Pixar touches. Of course there are colourful character along the way but they have the skewed view that only Pixar can deliver. The sharks are trying to be vegetarian, the current surfing turtles are “surfer-dudes” and seagulls are mindless and food obsessed.
The best addition is Ellen DeGeneras’ Dory. Playing on the idea of a fish having a terrible memory, Dory is the funniest character in the movie, being annoying enough to be funny but never completely irritating. DeGeneras’ skill to make her an interesting and sympathetic character is testament to the entertainer’s acting skills.
As much as this is a story of a father finding his son, the story within the dentist’s surgery where Nemo is captured is just as interesting. Again, the characters the young clown fish meet are key to it’s success, from the blow-fish Bloat to the grizzled and disillusioned Gill, played by perfect voice choice Willem Defoe.
The movie couldn’t just be a collection of funny and interesting characters though and as with many other Pixar movies, it manages to mix the humour with a dose of thrilling action. There aren’t any car chases or explosions in a fish movie but escaping a crowd of jellyfish or the desperate attempts of escape which make-up the finale will have anyone, kids and adults alike, on the edge of their seat.
What Pixar do best though is give the movie heart and that is the biggest appeal of Finding Nemo. This is a movie of a father trying to find his son and you won’t be able to stop yourself willing him on. Like any good movie, there are plenty of “near-misses” but the ending is perfectly satisfying… prompting many people to get “something in their eye.”
Overall, Finding Nemo is the perfect example of how to deliver a “kid’s movie” with wide appeal. It is funny, exciting, heartfelt and entertaining throughout. It has great characters, brought to life by a well-chosen cast. Best of all, the story, although about fish, will appeal to everyone on some level.
Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)