Review: “Finding Nemo” In 3D, Well-Developed Father-Son Relationship

Depending on who you ask, the popular word used to describe “Finding Nemo” is masterpiece. The film is arguably Pixar’s most enchanting animated film, a jewel that shines bright in the studio crown.

Upon its release in 2003, it drew raves from the critics and was Pixar’s biggest box-office hit until “Toy Story 3″ came along.

Now it’s getting the 3D treatment, so audiences can once again bask in this modern classic about a young clownfish on a mission to rescue his father from captivity.

“Finding Nemo” is Certified Fresh at 99 percent on the Tomatometer; here’s what some of the critics say:

Fresh: “Think of this re-release as an encore, a handy touchstone for you and your kids.

‘Finding Nemo’ was and remains the gold standard against which all other modern animated films are measured, a classic from the day it premiered.” — Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Fresh: “‘Finding Nemo’ will engross kids with its absorbing story, brightly drawn characters and lively action, and grown-ups will be equally entertained by the film’s subtle humor and the sophistication of its visuals.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Fresh: “If audiences haven’t soured on revamping their old classics, they’ll make ‘Finding Nemo 3D’ — the best-looking of the bunch—the biggest hit of all.” — Amy Nicholson, Boxoffice Magazine

Disney hasn’t been shy about renovating their old classics. Last September, “The Lion King 3D,” racked up $94 million at the box office, and when “Beauty and the Beast 3D” was released this past January, it made about half of that. With numbers like that, “Nemo” looks like a sure thing, commercially speaking.

“Nemo” is a delightful story about a father, Marlin (Brooks) and his son Nemo, (Alexander Gould). Nemo is a clown-fish and was born with a defective fin, therefore making his father extra protective of him.

During his first day of school, Nemo goes to the “drop-off” and swims out to open sea, where he gets taken by a scuba diver. Marlin swims after the boat, determined to find his son, when he runs into a blue tang fish named Dory (DeGeneres) who suffers from short-term memory loss. The two venture out together to find Nemo, meeting up with sharks, sea turtles, jellyfish and pelicans along the way.

In Walt Disney films, there are few classic examples of father-son relationships or father figures. Pinocchio in 1940, 101 Dalmatians in 1960, and The Jungle Book in 1967. Interestingly, like Finding Nemo, these three movies all represent major landmarks in Disney history.

Pinocchio made elaborate use of the multiplane camera, which resulted in the gorgeous scenes both underwater and in the Italian village. In 101 Dalmatians, it was the first time xerography was used for an entire film. Xerography uses the original drawings and copies them from above with a machine that transfers it to the cels, which allows for a greater integrity of the original artists’ drawings.

There were so many spots on the dogs, if they had hand-inked all the cells (as they did before the invention of xerography), the spots would all have been very hard to keep track of and ink accurately. It would have taken forever, or perhaps even the movie wouldn’t have been done at all. Incidentally, it was not very well reviewed at its release, and has arguably the worst song in Disney history (Dalmatian Plantation).

The Jungle Book was the first time Disney used voice artists to shape and influence the animated characters (most notably Louis Prima for King Louie) and was the last movie Walt was extensively involved in before he died. All these movies are fan favorites. They are also unique in Disney animation for featuring a storyline where the relationship between a father and child or children is the focus.

Finding Nemo, however, is without question the film with the most well-developed characters and integrated storyline in animation that shows the father-son relationship. At its release, there was deserved and universal praise for its realistic portrayal of a parent letting go as portrayed through animation. It is no less poignant or powerful nearly 10 years later.

Why, though, should we go see it in 3D, when we can all hunker down in our basements and see it for the umpteenth time on our own big screens? Because Finding Nemo and 3D are like — hmmm — Jack and Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas. They are simply meant to be. Even people who have never liked 3D could be converted by the look of this movie. It is as if it always was designed to be seen this way.

The sequence of the sharks in the submarine with Marlin and Dory, for example, is particularly sublime. In the way it pulls together the humor, dramatic tension and now adds a dimension of more depth and texture (both of which were very much the focus in the making of the original film), it allows for even more connection between the audience members and the characters on screen.

The 3D adds to the excitement. Throughout the film, in both the tender and intense moments, the 3D feels a bit like the gorgeous wrapping paper on a birthday present. It just makes the whole experience of the film opening up and surprising you more complete.

the film opening up and surprising you more complete.

Obviously, if you or your children haven’t seen Finding Nemo in the first place, this is a great opportunity to do so, assuming you have any interest in animation or film.

Also playing with Finding Nemo is Partysaurus Rex, third in a series of Toy Story-based shorts, and this one is directed by Pixar’s Mark Walsh. It is another example of Pixar creating a short so good it is worth the price of admission. The story is about T Rex feeling left out and making friends in the bathtub by inadvertently putting on a rave. It is hilarious and filled with in jokes club kids will enjoy, while at the same time appealing to older Toy Story fans who can relate to being seen as a stick in the mud, and wanting to change people’s perception of them and just have fun!

We are all going into election overload, no? Time for a break and some fun! If you are looking for that fun, and nostalgia mixed with the new shiny 3D, this is the perfect time to go check out Partysaurus Rex and Finding Nemo 3D.

If you’re a fan of the bright Pixar classic, it will be worth your while to revisit it in theatres; but if you are going to experience “the 3D picture,” wait to rent it when it comes to Blu-ray Dec. 4.

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