Finding Nemo is essentially a family drama combined with a new spin on an Abbott & Costello road movie. It’s also deep, affecting and a story about a father getting to know his son, and vice versa (even though they are apart for the whole movie). As Pixar religiously puts story ahead of the effects, what’s on display here is a very touching family element that proves more impacting with each viewing. Sure everyone gets emotionally invested in these characters but it’s chalked up to three factors; lovable design, top notch voice acting and finally Thomas Newman’s brilliant score. Newman (who would work together with Stanton again on WALL-E) creates a theme that is so finely tailored and well suited to the film it’s perhaps the finest of all the Pixar films. It really captures the spirit, energy, mysticism and fun of the film; none more so than these two tracks. But while Nemo dazzles on a visual/auditory level, the heartfelt angle, amid all the memorable and quotable humor, is just as solid.
Andrew Stanton’s colorful and delightful film literally bursts out of the television in this 3D re-release (and equally so for the glossy and cleaned up 2D version). A massive hit for Stanton and the animation powerhouse, Finding Nemo significantly raised the bar not only for the studio but for computer animation in general. Impressive world building, Shakespearean-like story and characters, the film is endlessly endearing and layered ever so subtly for the kids and adults. Really it was Pixar finding their groove. It showcased hundreds if not thousands of dynamic digital elements, was the biggest jump in story and quality for the studio (at the time) and would further propel their meteoric success into the amazing films that followed.
The voice acting is great and well suited to the characters. One of Pixar’s many and distinguished talents is that they don’t get the most popular A-listers, they get a voice that’s right to the character and the story. It’s a formula that this time has again shown the world the Albert Brook’s fantastic comedic timing and again gave Ellen a much broader audience. Unless you’ve seen this tons of times (guilty!) or have a keen ear, you may not recall Stephen Root, Eric Bana and Allison Janney’s performances. Why? Well because they aren’t supposed to overshadow the aquatic personality they’re embodying. Further they’re cast as supporting characters but still contribute a lot to the story. Perfect balance in every frame; that’s Pixar’s magic and is their stock in trade.
Looking back, and better now that Pixar’s latest family-centric film has been released in theaters, we can get an idea of how the studio has grown in terms of storytelling. Quite good timing actually as we can easily compare it to this Summer’s Brave. The way we see it, Brave is more of a Disney-esqe story than something from the Pixar wheelhouse, but Brave shared a very similar tone with the the plot of Nemo where family members (a parent and child) who are at odds must overcome a significant ordeal to come to terms with each other. Nemo is a very strong story and by comparison tells the same tale better than Brave, but that said, maybe Stanton has the benefit of time on his hands. Still it’s a better film in all aspects.
But of all the hype surrounding the re-release, Finding Nemo 3D is a welcomed return to friendly familiar ground, or waters rather. To say it’s gorgeous is an understatement. It is GORGEOUS. But one element that tends to get missed on the small screen (even after multiple viewings) is Pixar’s attention to detail. likened to an aquarium if you will, there’s always something moving. Not just the back ground or scenery but supporting characters. It’s easy to focus in on Nemo or Marlin but shift your glance to characters like Bubbles, Gurgle and Bloat and you’ll be amazed how much funnier and interesting the film becomes. Even though this is a post-converted effort it’s still amazing to see the depth of the ocean which is really one of, if not the best venues for a 3D film.
The leagues Marlin travels to find Nemo and all of his encounters with gargantuan aquatic life are entirely foreshadowed. But that’s the hallmarks of a great story; the set up and the big pay off. Here, and this is apparent after having seen this a more than a few times, nothing should come as a surprise because every bit of dialog is a road map that drives the story forward. That’s where Stanton deserves more credit. This is a road trip film well traveled but such a fun trip to take as it is Marlin’s quest to find his son that is touching and effective every single time. It’s just a fun trek down memory lane (or E.A.C. rather) any day of the week. With most of the existing fun and extensive supplemental features finding their way to this edition the only really difference is the 3D and the unparalleled detail of the Blu-Ray transfer. But make no mistake, the 3D is worth it and this Blu-Ray release is mandatory upgrade for any film fan. Sweet!