Finding Nemo is an unabashed delight. Most audiences rank it as the one of the best among Pixars uniformly excellent output. Finding Nemo is an amazingly colourful film. There are few other animated films that one can think of maybe Rintaros Metropolis (2001)? that use such an amazing vibrant palette of colours in the animation (and frequently all at the same time). Some of the three-dimensional pans around the reef or the fishtank are eye-popping in their vibrancy. Pixars skill with stunningly rendered three-dimensional detail has become so effortless that one is being constantly awed at the beauty. The secret blend of Pixars films, the thing that makes them so much better than the ones currently being made by their producing partner Disney, is that they manage an effortless blend of humour, likeable and endearing characters, are drawn with breathtakingly beautiful animation, do not come tempered with much in the way of cutsie sentimentalism and, above all, have a level of sly humour for the adults.
Disney had previously broached the talking fish concept in sections of The Little Mermaid (1989) Finding Nemo could almost be a feature-length expansion of the Under de Sea piscine frolics in The Little Mermaid. (Indeed, Robbie Williams gets to do a rendition of the award-winning track over the end credits). Before that there was Disneys Pinocchio (1940) with which there are a number of similarities during the brief underwater sojourn, particularly the vibrancy of the colours. Although, the film that almost certainly must have acted as some inspiration for Pixar was the Danish-made Help! Im a Fish (2000).
Finding Nemo works on the reliable standby of the quest plot but all the appeal of the film is in the wonderfully eccentric characters that come packed away around the edges from the school of sharks who induct the Marlin into a kind of AA meeting where they are doing their best to forswear eating other fish; a turtle, voiced by director Andrew Stanton himself, who speaks in ebullient surfer speak as though he had strayed in from the Bill & Ted films a character that Andrew Stanton claims was based on Sean Penns character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982); a blowfish who has the bad habit of inflating himself whenever he gets too excited; and a surprise appearance from indie cinema tough guy Willem Dafoe as a leather-beaten fish planning the escape from the aquarium. The film is fairly much stolen by Ellen DeGeneres as the fish companion with short-term memory loss. DeGeneres gets into full flight doing the zany ditz role she has perfected. Her voicing is simply delightful in the part and she steals a large part of the film whenever she is around. It is hard to think of any other actress who would be so perfectly suited in the role.
The great surprise about Finding Nemo is its surprisingly high Australian content. It is set around a quest to Sydney, whose landmarks prominently feature beyond the dentists office. The cast features a substantial line-up of Australian acting talent, including Geoffrey Rush as a pelican, Bill Hunter as the dentist, and Barry Humphries of Dame Edna Everage fame, Eric Bana and Bruce Spence, alias the Gyro Captain from Mad Max 2 (1981), as the pacifist sharks. Why the Australian cultural spin is a mystery neither co-directors Andrew Stanton or Lee Unkrich claim to have ever been there before the films publicity tour and in interviews seemed gratified that they managed to get the details accurate.
Finding Dory (2016) is a sequel. Finding Nemo was re-released in 2012 after being converted to 3D.