Monday, October 4, 2010

Day Ninety-Three: Finding Nemo

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #154
Year: 2003
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres

In a lot of ways, Finding Nemo is the most broadly appealing Pixar movie outside of the Toy Story trilogy. If you want tender sentimentality, it's got it. If you want laughs, there's plenty to be had. If you like recognizing voice actors in animated movies, Ellen DeGeneres is now known to an entire generation as "Dory." If you like lushly animated worlds, Finding Nemo brings the ocean to life like no other movie has. Everything that Pixar does well they do here as well as they ever have. It is a beautiful, touching, funny movie that deserves all the praise it has received since its release and then some.

I remember seeing TV spots for Finding Nemo in early 2003. At that point, I was a goddamn motherfucking junior high school student who mostly liked movies with tits, blood, and swears because I was such a big badass. Riiiiight. Point is, I was still stoked through the roof for Finding Nemo. There was no target audience that the trailers did not reach. The film didn't disappoint, either. It was a fast-paced romp through the ocean filled with comic peril but also very real emotional distress as a father clownfish looks all over the ocean for his lost son who has been taken as an aquarium fish by an Australian dentist. As he and his frustratingly airheaded traveling companion Dory encounter sharks, jellyfish and sea turtles, they form a bond as strong as any Pixar relationship this side of Buzz and Woody.

Somehow, though, Finding Nemo has lost a lot of buzz in the critical community. Decade-end lists were quick to point out the emotional power of Up, the cinematic scope of WALL-E, and the well-delivered message of Ratatouille, but, by and large, Nemo was left out in the cold. That's unfair. Finding Nemo is a hugely appealing, advertising-campaign-launching, theme-park-ride-inspiring merchandising machine, but it's also a wonderful movie, one deserving of the highbrow critical accolades afforded its Pixar brethren, and one that I can endlessly rewatch without ever getting tired of it. And even if it doesn't withstand the test of time and is good for absolutely nothing else, it taught us all one valuable life lesson: Just keep swimming.

The Good: It's the most broadly appealing Pixar movie.

The Bad: It's one of those movies that has become so overquoted that the scenes that get overquoted lose some of their power.

The Skinny: I'd have it even higher, probably.

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