Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) and Coral (voiced by Elizabeth Perkins) are a couple of clown fish who are proud parents of a new litter of baby clown fish, still in their egg stage. Marlin wants to name half of them Marlin Jr. and the other half Coral Jr., but Coral wants at least one of them to be named Nemo. In the great tradition of Disney movies, a barracuda kills the mom Coral, along with all but one of the eggs. Marlin raises the surviving baby fish alone and names him Nemo. Because of the tragic circumstances revolving Coral’s demise, and the fact that Nemo has one fin that is too small, Marlin is a little overprotective. A couple of years pass, and Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould) is ready for his first day at school.
Marlin doesn’t want him to go, but allows him to go anyway. It is at the school that Nemo meets fellow classmates Pearl (voiced by Erica Beck), a flapjack octopus, Sheldon (voiced by Erik Per Sullivan), a sea horse, and Tad (voiced by Jordy Ranft), a long-nosed butterfly fish. They all get aboard Mr. Ray (voiced by Bob Peterson), a stingray who is their teacher. He takes them on a field trip to the Drop-Off, the place where Coral and the eggs were killed. When Marlin finds out about this, he goes after Nemo to bring him home. Nemo is so embarrassed by Marlin’s intrusion that he swims out to dangerously touch the bottom of a fishing boat in defiance. As he is swimming back, a diver scoops him up as a specimen and drives the boat away. Marlin swims after the boat, but eventually loses it. He tries to get some help from anyone who might have seen the boat, and he thinks he might have found that help from Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a regal blue tang.
She says she saw the boat, but leads Marlin nowhere. It is at this time that he learns that Dory has severe short-term memory problems. After they find out from the diver’s mask that Nemo is with a “P. Sherman” in Sydney, Australia (Dory remembers that she knows how to read), Marlin and Dory set upon a long journey to find Nemo, where they encounter many interesting characters. There is a trio of sharks, Great White shark Bruce (voiced by Barry Humphries), hammerhead shark Anchor (voiced by Eric Bana), and mako shark Chum (voiced by Bruce Spence), who want to end their habit of eating fish. They also have a close encounter with an anglerfish and some jellyfish, before they finally reach the EAC (East Australian Current), a current that a school of fish (voiced mostly by John Ratzenberger) told them would take them to Sydney. It is on the EAC that they meet a sea turtle named Crush (voiced by Andrew Stanton, who also directed the movie) and his son Squirt (Nicholas Bird), who helps Marlin and Dory through the current. Meanwhile, Nemo has found himself in the fish tank of Dr. Sherman (voiced by Bill Hunter), a dentist whose office overhangs the harbor. He is caged in the tank with another set of colorful characters. The “Tank Gang” is led by Gill (voiced by Willem Defoe), a Moorish idol who is the only other one in the tank who came from the sea. A starfish named Peach (voiced by Allison Janney) hangs on the side of the tank and acts as their lookout. A blowfish named Bloat (voiced by Brad Garrett) blows up every time stress gets to him.
A yellow tang named Bubbles (voiced by Stephen Root) gets all goofy when he sees bubbles. A royal gramma named Gurgle (voiced by Austin Pendleton) is a fish who wants everything clean and germ free. A shrimp named Jacques (voiced by Joe Ranft) does all that cleaning. Finally, a black and white humbug damsel fish named Deb (voiced by Vicki Lewis) thinks her reflection in the glass of the tank is her sister Flo. After they initiate Nemo into the Tank Gang, they formulate a plan to escape and make it back to sea. This is especially important, since Dr. Sherman plans to give Nemo to his niece Darla (voiced by Lulu Ebeling), a girl who tends to kill her fish quickly. If things go well, Nemo will escape and be reunited with his dad, whose adventures with Dory have become legendary, according to a pelican named Nigel (voiced by Geoffrey Rush.)
This movie is so fun to watch! I actually think it is the first Pixar movie to have the traditional feel of a Disney movie. It combines the elements of classic Disney movies (dead mom, epic journeys with colorful characters) with the elements that made Pixar so successful (amazing computer animation, great writing.)
I have to admit, when I first saw the trailers for this movie, I wasn’t impressed. I thought it was possibly going to be the lamest Pixar movie yet. After I saw the film, I realized the trailer did something rare in the world of trailers…it didn’t show the funniest parts of the movie! Most of those funny parts they didn’t show involve Dory. DeGeneres’ character steals the show in every scene, with the best one possibly being her attempt to communicate with a whale. I thought it was odd that they didn’t show any of Dory’s scenes in the trailers, and my only theory is that they think DeGeneres might be too controversial of a personality to advertise her involvement. That is a shame, since she is the highlight of the film.
Finally, we have a kiddie film in 2003 that grownups can enjoy with or without their kids. I liked Finding Nemo so much that I saw it twice, and it was just as enjoyable the second time around. Pixar really has the pulse of what works. They pick a great vocal cast, and employ the best writers. Some people think that computer animation will take over traditional animation as the leading moneymaking animation force. While computer animation looks cool, the reason they are a hit is the talent of the voices and the writing. Traditional animation could do just as well if they had that. Bring your little guppies to this one and you’ll have a fishy good time!