I am back with another instalment of my Pixar series, this time with what is possibly my favourite Pixar film ever…Finding Nemo.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Finding Nemo is the fifth animated feature film from Pixar, which was released in 2003, and directed by Andrew Stanton. Can you believe this film is 10 years old?! This makes me feel really old. I remember getting the DVD as a present when I lost part of my hearing (temporarily) and I was playing is so loudly (cause I couldn’t hear it obviously) and it was the middle of the night. Needless to say my family weren’t too impressed. Anyways back to the point. This film actually has one of the most interesting backgrounds I have come across so far in this series. Director Andrew Stanton was inspired to create this film given his own life experiences. As a child, Stanton loved going to the dentist (crazy boy) to see the fish tank where he assumes the fish were from the ocean and wished to return home. In 1997, Stanton took his son for a walk in the park but felt that he was being over-protective which lead him to believe he has lost an opportunity to have any father-son experiences on that day. This obviously left a lasting mark on Stanton, and we see the relationship between Marilyn and Nemo stemming from his own experiences with his son.
Pre-production of the film began in 1997, and Stanton began working on the screenplay during post-production of A Bug’s Life.
This film depicts the story of Marilyn, a clownfish, who is quite over-protective of his son Nemo. This is due to the fact that he lost his wife Coral, and several of their fish-egg children when a shark attacked their home. Nemo was the only offspring to survive, however he was left with him with a small right fin thus leaving him unable to swim as quickly and for as long as other fish. Nemo is ready and excited to begin his first day of school, despite a reluctant Marilyn wanting him to stay home for another year. At school, Nemo makes friends who decide to play a game of chicken to see who can swim closest to the boat (or ‘butt’ as they like to call it!). Although reluctant at first, Nemo decides to swim all the way to the boat in spite of his father who is over-protective of Nemo and worried about his injured fin. It is then Nemo is taken by a scuba diver and taken away in the boat. Marilyn frantically tries to chase after the boast in an attempt to save his son but it is of no use. However he is determined to follow the boat, asking as many fish as he can if they know where the boat went. Marilyn then meets a fish named Dory who says she knows where the boat went, so Marilyn, slightly relieved, follows Dory to the boat. What Marilyn does not know however, is that Dory has amnesia and therefore has no short-term memory. The story then follows Marilyn and Dory in their desperate attempt in finding Nemo.
- Albert Brooks as Marlin, a clownfish, Nemo’s father
- Alexander Gould as Nemo, a juvenile clownfish, Marlin’s son
- Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, a Pacific regal blue tang
- Willem Dafoe as Gill, a moorish idol
- Brad Garrett as Bloat, a porcupine fish
- Allison Janney as Peach, an Ochre starfish
- Stephen Root as Bubbles, a yellow tang
- Vicki Lewis as Deb (and her sister, “Flo”, Deb’s reflection), a four-striped damselfish
- Joe Ranft as Jacques, a French-speaking Pacific cleaner shrimp
- Geoffrey Rush as Nigel, an Australian pelican
- John Ratzenberger as the school of moonfish
Nemo is a young clownfish, son of Marlin. He is very excited about his first day of school and doesn’t like when his dad tries to keep him from doing things. Having been attacked by a shark when he was still an egg, Nemo was born with a bad fin which is smaller than his other fin, making it more difficult to swim.
The majority of the film shows Nemo in a dentist’s fish tank, having been captured by a scuba-diver at the start of the film. Nemo fits in with the tank gang quite easily and quickly becomes Gill’s little sidekick.
Nemo is a very sweet character and is determined not to give up on being reunited with his dad.
Marlin is Nemo’s father and despite being a clownfish, he is the most serious character in all of the film. In fact there are many characters throughout the film who ask him to tell them a joke since as he is a clownfish, he must be funny.
However the reasoning behind this serious character is evident in the opening scene of this film, which shows his wife, Coral, and his hundreds of fish egg offspring being attacked and killed by a shark. Nemo is the only surviving fish egg, which explains why Marlin is so over-protective off him.
When Nemo is taken from the sea, and therefore from Marlin, he refuses to give up on finding his son.
Not only is Marlin loyal to his son, but he is also loyal to Dory, even though she is more of a hindrance than help in some parts of their journey to rescue Nemo.
Marlin meets Dory when he is looking for the boat that took his son, a boat which Dory says she has seen. Marlin then begins to follow Dory in the hopes that he will soon be reunited with his son, however after a few minutes of following her, Dory warns Marlin to stop following her. Why? Because she can’t remember meeting him – short-term memory loss runs in her family…at least I think it does…hmm…where are they?
Grab shell dudes, for Randy Newman was not responsible for the Finding Nemo soundtrack! Indeed, this was the first Pixar film not to feature the talents of Mr. Randy Newman. They did however keep it in the family as his cousin, Thomas Newman composed the entire soundtrack of this film (apart from ‘Beyond The Sea’ which was featured in the credits and performed by Robbie Williams).
The soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award for Original Music Score, but lost out the Lord of the Rings.
So far, Finding Nemo has provided the best group of characters in all the Pixar films, so picking a favourite is quite difficult. I am therefore going to subdivide it into two categories; Favourite Major Character, and Favourite Minor Character.
Favourite Major Character:
It has to be Dory. I know she is everyone’s favourite character but hey, there’s a reason she is getting her own film guys.
Dory is truly a fantastic character. Her witty one-liners that are unintentionally funny are great for both little kiddies and for adults alike. And of course we must not forget the comedy genius and voice behind this fantastic character, Ellen Degeneres. Ellen never fails to make me laugh, and she brought so much to the character of Dory which I think nobody else would have been able to do.
Favourite Minor Character:
He is one of Nemo’s first friends and I think the only reason I like him so much is because of his great introduction to himself when he says “I’m obnoxious”. I quote that all the time, not too sure why myself, but safe to say some people probably give me funny looks!
How does one pick a favourite quote from one of the most quotable films of all time?
Well it was not easy, and that is why I cheated and picked three…(even though if I really had my way I would probably just give you the script and say there, these are my favourite quotes, seriously the writers did an epic job on this film)
Although there are many fantastic scenes in this film, I think my favourite scene is when Mr. Ray takes his students on a field trip and Nemo and his new friends, Tad, Pearl, and Sheldon break away from the group and come across a butt (that’s a boat to you and me). They then play chicken and see who can get the closest to the boat, when Marlin, Mr. Ray and the rest of the school of fish (see what I did there!) join in to see Nemo swim out to see to touch the boat. Cue two of my favourite quotes from the movie, “Oh my gosh! Nemo’s swimming out to sea!” and “He touched the butt”.
If you are unaware as to what A113 is, it is an Easter egg (inside joke) that is present in all 13 of the Pixar animated feature films.
A113 stands for the number of the classroom used for graphic design and character animation in the school used by John Lasseter and Brad Bird.
A113 is actually a little bit more difficult to spot in this film compared to previous Pixar films, however it can be seen in Finding Nemo on the scuba-diver’s camera.
- Pixar’s characters are often planned years in advance. Nemo first appeared as a stuffed toy on a couch in Boo’s room in Monsters, Inc.. This movie introduces the main characters of post-2003 Pixar films. A boy in the dentist’s office is reading a “Mr. Incredible” comic book, anticipating The Incredibles. Luigi the car is driving by the dentist’s office, anticipating Cars.
- The coloration of Gill’s face simulates the characteristic lines around the mouth of voice actor Willem Dafoe.
- Had the biggest opening weekend for any animated film upon its US release (30 May 2003).
- The waiting room in the dentist’s office was modeled after the waiting room in a real dentist’s office in Emeryville, California, where Pixar Animation Studios has its headquarters.
- To see how realistic they could make it appear, the art team were asked to make exact copies of actual underwater and above-water shots. Ultimately the results were simply deemed “too realistic” for a cartoon.
- In the tank gang in the dentist’s office, the germophobic purple and yellow fish is the only one never mentioned by name. His name was later revealed to be Gurgle.
- Though never mentioned in the film, it is revealed by the directors in the commentary that Crush and his crew of thrill-seeking turtles are headed for Hawaii. Also mentioned in the commentary is that the young turtles’ shells are modeled after Hawaiian shirts.
- Dory Lane and Marlin Drive are intersecting streets in the Bay Area suburb of Redwood City, just across the bay from Pixar’s home.
- Director Andrew Stanton originally planned to reveal the fate of Marlin’s wife gradually through flashbacks seen periodically as the story unfolded. After a few early in-house screenings, he found that Marlin came off as too much of a worrywart, and decided to reveal the entire back-story up front, thus making Marlin more appealing by establishing the reason for his over-protectiveness.
- The name of the fish that yells “Oh, my gosh! Nemo’s swimming out to sea!” is Kathy.
- When Gil is thinking ahead about how he and the fish will escape, as the camera pans toward and out the window, the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story can be seen on the outside.
I have loved this film since the very first time I saw it (which is 10 years ago!! Wow, that makes me feel old).
It is a classic, and I cannot think of anything that would improve it or make it better which is why I gave it a 10/10.
Before I started this Pixar series, I actually wrote down a list of what I thought would be my favourite to least favourite Pixar films, and Finding Nemo was at the top (as in favourite). When I have finished this series I am actually going to do a post of what I thought my favourites order would be compared to what my favourites order actually is.
Anyways, Finding Nemo is a classic, and one of the best animated films ever made. Yes, I said it. If you are crazy enough not to have seen this film yet, you need to get on that!
Next in this series: The Incredibles