Movie Review

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

Production Company: Walt Disney/Pixar
Director: Andrew Stanton
Principals: Voices of Alexander Gould, Erica Beck, Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Geoffrey Rush
Rating: G

By Gregg Tubbs 

( -- Kermit the Frog used to sing “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” After seeing Finding Nemo I’m sure he’d add that being orange is no picnic either. Nemo is the latest in an incredible string of winners from Walt Disney/Pixar, that follows the very funny, sometimes harrowing and altogether delightful tail of Nemo, a spunky little orange clownfish and his over-protective father named Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks). Nemo, like Pixar’s other hits such as Toy Story is completely computer animated. The warmth and beauty of this new film shows the remarkable maturing of their craft.

Finding Nemo
A moorish idol named Gill (black, white and yellow stripes) takes newcomer Nemo (an orange and white striped clown fish) under his fin. © Disney Enterprises Inc./Pixar Animation Studios.
Marlin and little Nemo are all that’s left of a family that included Nemo’s mother and 1,400 brothers and sisters - all eggs. After the shocking opening, that includes a hungry barracuda, Marlin and Nemo are left to pick up the pieces alone. Marlin, devastated by his loss, cradles the tiny egg that will become Nemo, and vows to never let anything happen to him. As Nemo grows to young fish-hood, this promise becomes a constant fear for the worse that Marlin tries to pass on to his rambunctious son. Marlin’s compulsive worrying brings to mind the words of Jesus, when his own apostles became overly fretful, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matt. 6:26)

Marlin’s overprotective nature practically smothers Nemo, pushing him to rebelliously stray from the safety of the reef and ultimately land in a net, headed for an aquarium. His worst fears imagined, Marlin and the only witness to Nemo’s capture, a memory-challenged fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) leave the shelter of the reef and race into the treacherous open sea to rescue Nemo. Ironically, Dory, whose memory is so bad she literally has to live in the moment, plays a big part in helping Marlin learn to relax and trust that disaster isn’t waiting around every corner.

Finding Nemo
Marlin and Dory face an ocean full of perils in their efforts to rescue Nemo, including a close encounter with a most unusual group of great white sharks. © Disney Enterprises Inc./Pixar Animation Studios.
While Marlin battles his own fears, and the perils of the sea, Nemo battles as well, with his regret for disobeying his father. In particular, Nemo regrets the words he said to his father in anger, “I hate you!” In fact, Marlin and Nemo, although frustrated with each other, love each other deeply and as they try to reunite, they are transformed by this love. Nemo learns that his father is braver than he thought, feeling new-found pride and respect for his dad. And Marlin learns that he must let go, and let Nemo take some chances, if he’s ever to grow up. As Dory points out, “You promised to never let anything happen to him. Did that mean not letting anything good happen to him either?” 

From the start, the rebellious and disobedient Nemo reminds us of the parable of the Prodigal Son. His disobedience has landed him in a terrible mess and he learns that although his father was over-protective, there was wisdom and real-life experience behind his cautions. But Nemo’s predicament is as much the product of peer pressure as it is of rebellion against his father. Nemo’s school friends taunted him to venture out from the reef and his last burst into the murky unknown was as much about proving something to them as it was about defying his father’s authority. The writers of the Bible were fully aware of the lure of peer pressure and warned in Proverbs, “My child, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”  (Proverbs 1:10)  Because of his love for his son, Marlin proves that he has the heart of a big fish, as his name implies. The story Jesus tells of the lost sheep (Matt. 18:10-13) comes to mind. Marlin, like a good shepherd, risks all to recover his lost lamb.

Finding Nemo
Marlin and his traveling companion, Dory, cruise the Eastern Australian Current with their cool new turtle pals, Crush and his son Squirt. © Disney Enterprises Inc./Pixar Animation Studios.
Ultimately, Marlin and Nemo learn to meet each other half way – Marlin letting go a little and Nemo respecting a bit more. The Apostle Paul would have approved, since his advice in Colossians applies: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.  Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Col. 3:20-21)

Finding Nemo is quite a catch. It serves up an old fashioned heart-warming story on a dazzling computerized platter that will appeal to young and old alike. Stir in lots of laughs and a few solid lessons in trust, obedience, bravery and knowing when to let go, and you would have to be a guppy not to take the plunge and see Nemo.

Gregg Tubbs is a freelance writer living in Columbia, Maryland.

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