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"Finding Nemo" has all of the usual pleasures of the Pixar animation style--the comedy and wackiness of "Toy Story" or "Monsters Inc." or "A Bug's Life." And it adds an unexpected beauty, a use of color and form that makes it one of those rare movies where I wanted to sit in the front row and let the images wash out to the edges of my field of vision. The movie takes place almost entirely under the sea, in the world of colorful tropical fish--the flora and fauna of a shallow warm-water shelf not far from Australia. The use of color, form and movement make the film a delight even apart from its story.
There is a story, though, one of those Pixar inventions that involves kids on the action level while adults are amused because of the satire and human (or fishy) comedy. The movie involves the adventures of little Nemo, a clown fish born with an undersized fin and an oversized curiosity. His father, Marlin, worries obsessively over him, because Nemo is all he has left: Nemo's mother and all of her other eggs were lost to barracudas. When Nemo goes off on his first day of school, Marlin warns him to stay with the class and avoid the dangers of the drop-off to deep water, but Nemo forgets, and ends up as a captive in the salt-water aquarium of a dentist in Sydney. Marlin swims off bravely to find his missing boy, aided by Dory, a blue tang with enormous eyes who he meets along the way.
These characters are voiced by actors whose own personal mannerisms are well known to us; I recognized most of the voices, but even the unidentified ones carried buried associations from movie roles, and so somehow the fish take on qualities of human personalities. Marlin, for example, is played by Albert Brooks as an overprotective, neurotic worrywart, and Dory is Ellen DeGeneres as helpful, cheerful and scatterbrained (she has a problem with short-term memory). The Pixar computer animators, led by writer-director Andrew Stanton, create an undersea world that is just a shade murky, as it should be; we can't see as far or as sharply in sea water, and so threats materialize more quickly, and everything has a softness of focus. There is something dreamlike about the visuals of "Finding Nemo," something that evokes the reverie of scuba-diving.
It may occur to you that many pelicans make a living by eating fish, not rescuing them, but some of the characters in this movie have evolved admirably into vegetarians. As Marlin and Dory conduct their odyssey, for example, they encounter three carnivores who have formed a chapter of Fish-Eaters Anonymous, and chant slogans to remind them that they abstain from fin-based meals.
The first scenes in "Finding Nemo" are a little unsettling, as we realize the movie is going to be about fish, not people (or people-based characters like toys and monsters). But of course animation has long since learned to enlist all other species in the human race, and to care about fish quickly becomes as easy as caring about mice or ducks or Bambi.
When I review a movie like "Finding Nemo," I am aware that most members of its primary audience do not read reviews. Their parents do, and to them and adults who do not have children as an excuse, I can say that "Finding Nemo" is a pleasure for grown-ups. There are jokes we get that the kids don't, and the complexity of Albert Brooks' neuroses, and that enormous canvas filled with creatures that have some of the same hypnotic beauty as--well, fish in an aquarium. They may appreciate another novelty: This time the dad is the hero of the story, although in most animation it is almost always the mother.
Premiering in Los Angeles on May 18, Finding Nemo was released in theaters in the United States on May 30, 2003. Upon its release, it received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised the visual elements, screenplay and characters that has been cited as funny to both young moviegoers and their parents. It also became the highest-grossing animated film at the time of its release, and was the second-highest-grossing film of 2003, earning a total of $871 million worldwide by the end of its initial theatrical run. The film was also nominated for three Academy Awards, winning one for Best Animated Feature, becoming the first Pixar film to do so.
Clownfish Marlin lives in an anemone in the Great Barrier Reef with his mate, Coral, and their eggs. After Coral and nearly all the eggs are eaten by a barracuda, Marlin becomes overprotective of his son Nemo, born of one remaining egg. While Marlin talks to Nemo's teacher on the latter's first day of school, Nemo approaches a speedboat, where a pair of scuba divers capture him. Marlin pursues the boat in vain and meets Dory, a blue tang with acute short-term memory loss, who offers her help. The two encounter Bruce, Anchor, and Chum, three sharks who have sworn to abstain from eating fish. Marlin finds a diver's mask that fell from the boat, accidentally hitting Dory and giving her a nosebleed. The scent of her blood sends Bruce into a feeding frenzy, but the sharks flee after accidentally setting off old naval mines, which knock Marlin and Dory unconscious.
In addition, clownfish are colorful, but do not tend to come out of an anemone often. For a character who has to go on a dangerous journey, Stanton felt a clownfish was the perfect type of fish for the character. Pre-production of the film began in early 1997. Stanton began writing the screenplay during the post-production of A Bug's Life. As a result, Finding Nemo began production with a complete screenplay, something that co-director Lee Unkrich called "very unusual for an animated film". The artists took scuba diving lessons to study the coral reef.
Stanton originally planned to use flashbacks to reveal how Coral died but realized that by the end of the film there would be nothing to reveal, deciding to show how she died at the beginning of the movie. The character of Gill also was different from the character seen in the final film. In a scene that was eventually deleted, Gill tells Nemo that he's from a place called Bad Luck Bay and that he has brothers and sisters in order to impress the young clownfish, only for the latter to find out that he was lying by listening to a patient reading a children's storybook that shares exactly the same details.
Finding Nemo was released on VHS and DVD on November 4, 2003. The DVD release sold more than 8 million copies on the first day of release, taking Spider-Man's record for having the highest single-day DVD sales. It also surpassed Monsters, Inc. for having the highest single-day record for an animated movie. Within two weeks, it went on to become the best-selling DVD of its time, selling over 15 million copies and beating The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. With over 40 million copies sold, Finding Nemo currently holds the record for the best-selling DVD release of all time. This DVD consists of two separate discs direct from the digital source. The first disc features a widescreen version (1.78:1 aspect ratio) and the second disc features a fullscreen version (family-friendly 1.33:1 aspect ratio without pan and scan). Both discs feature an introduction in the main menu, fish icons in the corner of the menus that transform the screen into a virtual aquarium and are THX certified. On the first disc, the menus take place in the ocean and bonus features include the in-depth documentary Making Nemo, visual commentary with deleted scenes and design galleries. As for the second disc, the menus take place at the dentist office. There are sneak peeks for The Incredibles, Home on the Range, The Lion King 1 and other upcoming film releases. Bonus features on this disc include Knick Knack, an original 1989 short film, Exploring the Reef, Mr. Ray's Encyclopedia, a guessing game called Fisharades, Storytime and behind-the-scenes with character interviews, studio tour and publicity. Both Exploring the Reef and Knick Knack can also be selected in the main menu.
By July 2003, Finding Nemo had earned $274.9 million, beating The Matrix Reloaded and becoming the top-grossing movie of the year. The film even surpassed Shrek to become the second highest-grossing animated film. Later that month, the film had earned over $300 million becoming the highest-grossing animated film in the United States and Canada, surpassing The Lion King. By the end of the summer season, Finding Nemo was one of five films to reach $200 million at the box office in a single summer season, with the others being X2, The Matrix Reloaded, Bruce Almighty and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. At the end of its theatrical run, Finding Nemo grossed $339.7 million in the United States and Canada and $531.3 million in international territories, totaling $871.0 million worldwide. In all three occasions, it had outgrossed The Lion King to become the highest-grossing animated film. It stayed in the Top 10 until August 14 (11 weeks total). In North America, it was surpassed by both Shrek 2 in 2004 and Toy Story 3 in 2010. Finding Nemo would hold the record for having the highest international gross for an animated film until 2009 when it was taken by Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Outside North America, it stands as the fifth highest-grossing animated film. Worldwide, it currently ranks as the ninth highest-grossing animated film. Moreover, it was the highest-grossing Disney film for three years before Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest surpassed it.
Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars, calling it "one of those rare movies where I wanted to sit in the front row and let the images wash out to the edges of my field of vision". Ed Park of The Village Voice gave the film a positive review, saying "It's an ocean of eye candy that tastes fresh even in this ADD-addled era of SpongeBob SquarePants." Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune gave the film four out of four stars, saying "You connect to these sea creatures as you rarely do with humans in big-screen adventures. The result: a true sunken treasure." Hazel-Dawn Dumpert of LA Weekly gave the film a positive review, saying "As gorgeous a film as Disney's ever put out, with astonishing qualities of light, movement, surface and color at the service of the best professional imaginations money can buy." Jeff Strickler of the Star Tribune gave the film a positive review, saying it "proves that even when Pixar is not at the top of its game, it still produces better animation than some of its competitors on their best days." Gene Seymour of Newsday gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "The underwater backdrops take your breath away. No, really. They're so lifelike, you almost feel like holding your breath while watching." Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald gave the film four out of four stars, saying "Parental anxiety may not be the kind of stuff children's films are usually made of, but this perfectly enchanting movie knows how to cater to its kiddie audience without condescending to them." 59ce067264