On Second Thought: “Finding Nemo”

As it turns out, some animated films can age quite well. It doesn’t hurt if the film’s not that old, but even then, some just don’t hold up well. Many factors can lead to this, chief among them, the audience that originally saw it has grown older themselves. The same things that worked the first time may no longer impress an older, more mature mind. Only a select few animated films can retain all what once made them as enjoyable as they were the first time.

The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures film “Finding Nemo”, is still as full of heart and adventure, just like it was the first time around.

This animated comedy film features the voice talents of Albert Brooks (upcoming films “The Secret Life of Pets”, The Little Prince”), Ellen DeGeneres (“Finding Dory”, “The Simpsons”), Alexander Gould (“Finding Dory”, “Superman: Unbound”), Willem Dafoe (“Finding Dory”, “John Wick”), Brad Garrett (“Finding Dory”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”), Allison Janney (upcoming films “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”, “The Girl on the Train”), Austin Pendleton (“Finding Dory” “Billions”), Stephen Root (upcoming film “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”, “Finding Dory”), Vicki Lewis (“Finding Dory”, “Angie Tribeca”), Joe Ranft (“Cars”, “The Incredibles”), Geoffrey Rush (“Gods of Egypt”, “Minions”), Stanton (“Finding Dory”, “WALL E”), Elizabeth Perkins (upcoming “Ghostbusters (2016)”, “One Child”), Nicholas Bird (“Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (Short 2007)”, “The Incredibles”), Bob Peterson (“Finding Dory”, “Monsters University”), Barry Humphries (upcoming film “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie”, “Blinky Bill the Movie”), Eric Bana (“Special Correspondents”, “The Finest Hours”), Bruce Spence (“Gods of Egypt”, “Backtrack”), Bill Hunter (“Die on Your Feet”, “The Cup”), LuLu Ebeling, Jordy Ranft (“A Bug’s Life”), Erica Beck (“Dance-Off”, “iCarly”), Erik Per Sullivan (“Twelve”, “Mo”), and John Ratzenberger (“Finding Dory”, “Change of Heart”).

The film is directed by Andrew Stanton (“Finding Dory”, “John Carter”) with a co-director Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”, “Monsters, Inc.”). The film is written by Stanton (“Finding Dory”, “John Carter”), Peterson (“Finding Dory”, “Up”), and David Reynolds (“The Polar Bears (Short 2012)”, “The Emperor’s New Groove”).

The film originally opened on May 30, 2003. The film would go on to be nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one; one Golden Globe Award; and 12 Annie Awards, winning nine among many other wins and nominations.

For some reason I haven’t seen this film in over a decade, at least. Not even when it’s played on Disney Channel, or whatever channels it’s played on, have I taken the time to watch it. I don’t know why and I feel like a failure. I guess that’s the one good thing the with the sequel having opened this weekend. I’ve now been forced to watch something again that I should’ve seen many more time prior to now. In so many ways, I’m actually thankful for a sequel to a film that came out 13 years ago. But, and this is more important, do I still like this film? Did I find it difficult to enjoy now that I’ve grown up considerably? Well, let’s find out!

Okay, to throw it out there, so there’s no doubt whatsoever, I LOVED this film!! I don’t know if I expected too, but I had so much fun watching, that as the credits rolled, I kind of wanted to watch it again! I somehow stopped myself from doing just that, but who knows, maybe in a few days I rewatch it. Why not?!

The word “beautiful” really sums up this film’s overall look, sound, and feel. There wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t amazed at what I was seeing, or able to feel something that so rarely makes it even a little bit into an animated films. I instantly got lost in the vastness that is the ocean, and in so many ways, I didn’t want to leave.

The animation is everything I remember of this particular Pixar film, and many others before and since, but somehow here, it just felt so different. The beauty of the ocean, recreated, plus all the life living in its depths, just astounded me. For once, I actually wished I was the type of person who wanted to swim in the ocean or scuba dive and swim among the fish. Sadly, even now, that will never be me. I refuse to become food for one of Bruce’s (“Jaws”) family members or friends.

Throw in Thomas Newman’s (“Finding Dory”, “Spectre”), beautiful, moving, and action packed score and you’ve got one fantastic family film! It’s seriously no wonder so many people loved it then, and no doubt still love it! For me, I instantly recognized it, and was glad he was chosen, as I don’t think anyone else could’ve gotten all the emotions correct. Along with another similar element, this score is what helps to bring the entire film together, which not all films can do, even if the score is fun. Again, I was just amazed at what I was able to feel and how I was able to respond emotionally throughout the film. I’d forgotten this aspect.

That similar element, which Newman wonderfully captured and pulled out of all of us, no doubt, is emotion. The emotional aspects of this film, are kind of mind blowing. I’d forgotten how truly moving this film could be, and how well the writers and actors were able to bring such well crafted human drama to a bunch of anthropomorphic sea creatures. There is so much to take away from this film, that even if you’re an adult, with or without children, maybe just nephews, there’s something relatable. I know that concept in animated films isn’t new, but I feel that it’s so rare to see it on display this well, and after 13 years, still be able to find some way in and respond in the appropriate way, you know, the way intended.

I was definitely surprised when we get to the part where Marlin and Nemo are reunited. The build up was amazing, and then when it happened I was just so excited and happy! A smile on my face emerged and lasted longer than I expected. The one moment, where I really knew this film had nailed all the emotional components, was at the end when there’s this simple exchange of words and feelings. Nemo says to Marlin, “Love you, Dad”. Marlin replies, “Love you too, son.” Definitely the perfect moment to more or less end the film on.

Moments like the last one between Nemo and Marlin wouldn’t be possible without the voice actors who brought the characters to life. Yes, I do realize that writers had to do the work first, but it’s a bit more difficult to discuss that. The writing, I’m sure, was incredible! Moving on.

The voice actors. Now they’re just classic and the only ones we can see as these lovable sea creatures, but it does have me wondering who was also considered? I won’t be thinking on this too long, but it’s unavoidable and a good question to ask. The actors chosen for this film clearly knew what they were doing. Each one fully brought the various characters and situations to life! Some of this is emotional, for character backstory and growth, and other parts was what made the film so much fun, exciting, and enjoyable! I can’t tell you how many of the action packed adventure sequences I loved, probably because I think I loved them all, but there were plenty!

There was not a moment I didn’t get so completely pulled in, and that’s because of DeGeneres, Brooks, and all the others. They just made the moments even better, and now I’m wondering if I’d think the same of other Pixar animated films, or other animated films I like. In terms of characters, I did notice how it was easy to love DeGeneres’ Dory, and she’s still a true standout in this film, but she’s just as lovable as the others. I don’t think I can put one performance or character above another. The individual characters and the various relationships they each build are top notch! I don’t see them ever getting old.

And before you start wondering how I’ve gotten this far without talking about the comedy in this film, fear not, that was deliberate. It’s more that I needed space to just go a tad crazy with this area.

This film is still incredibly funny! Hilarious!! I can’t remember, even the slightest, what I thought way back when, but I’m sure I laughed and enjoyed it, otherwise, why would my family have bought the DVD? Funnily enough, the DVD we bought, is the exact same copy I watched a few days ago. Thank god for keeping things for a long time, even if we haven’t watched them in some time.

Like with the action/adventure sequences, I don’t think I can pick just one that I liked the most. The moment I start doing that, another drifts into my mind and has me loving it just as much. Even the repetitive joke where Dory can’t remember Marlin’s son’s name, which you’d think would wear thin, never did. I loved each, laughed when I was supposed to, even when the jokes were clearly juvenile; but maybe that just says more about me than it does about the lasting effects of this films humorous moments. What’s interesting to me, is that I wrote down some of the quotes and moments, for some reason, and when I read the again, I just can’t help but laugh!

So, let’s see, what are some of the ones I wrote down that keep me laughing?

“Aww, you guys made me ink.”

“ESCAPE! I wonder what that means? It’s funny, it’s spelled just like escape.”

“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming…”

“I see a light.”
“Hey conscience, am I dead?”

The entire jellyfish sequence, which starts with DeGeneres saying, “I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall by my Squishy. Come on, little Squishy.”

“Whale don’t eat clown fish, they eat krill.”
“Swim AWAY!”
“Oh look, krill!”

For starters, this clearly says a lot about the writing and the way the jokes were executed. If not for the right voice talents, perhaps the jokes wouldn’t have worked as well, or they could’ve just fallen flat in general. I also love how this makes me believe that this film really can stand the test of time, and be more than just a kids film. It’s an everyone’s film! No matter how old you are, this film is going to work and resonate in some meaningful way.

When it comes to some animated films, especially those you grew up with or were introduced to as part of your childhood, most will only remain fond memories of days long since gone. It’s a select group of films that can go well beyond that of simple and enjoyable animated kid’s films. When you get one of those, you may or may not know it, but it’s a film that will always be what you knew as a kid. It’s so well done, that the only thing that’s different is the lens through which you’re now watching it. An adult lens.

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