Finding Nemo is on the top five Pixar movies, which means it is already a bona fide classic in 2D. With this weekend’s re-release in 3D, it doesn’t really get all that much better because the 3D is only intermittently effective – though when it is, it’s really, really effective.
The film opens with the off-screen death of the as yet unhatched Nemo’s mother, leaving worrywart clownfish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) to look after the sole new arrival to survive the fate that took his mother and unhatched siblings. The 3D in the early sequences – especially along the Great Barrier Reef, with its exotic, brilliantly colored life forms – is spectacular.
The adventure begins with young Neo (Alexander Gould), only slightly handicapped because of one smaller fin, accepts a dare to swim near a boat – and winds up caught by a scuba diver. Despite his (many) fears, Marlin sets out to find and rescue his son. Along the way, he encounters a memory-challenged blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) who decides to accompany him. She can read human, which gives them a location.
Meanwhile, the diver turns out to be barber from Sydney and he’s caught Nemo to give as a present to his niece, Darla (cue the shower music from Psycho – just one of the many gags for older viewers) on her birthday – just a week away! In the meantime, Nemo is kept in a tank with a with a number of other fish, including Gill (Willem Dafoe), who is badly scarred from an escape attempt, and Deb (Vicky Lewis) who thinks her reflection the aquarium’s glass is her sister (whom she names Flo), as well a few others.
The sequences in the aquarium – and the dentist’s office – are also some of best for the 3D conversion. Other great moments include the jump moment when we first Bruce, the shark whom we learn is part of Fish Eaters Anonymous (‘Fish are not food. Fish are friends.’), and a set piece involving a flock of pigeons. For most of the rest of the film, the 3d is really not much of a factor.
Even without 3D, Finding Nemo is still a brilliantly written entertainment that takes animal behavior and finds ways to link it to human behavior in humorous and dramatic ways. The characters are each as well developed as they need to be for the story that’s being told – which could seem very arbitrary in a live action film with a cast of, y’know, people – but works well her because the balance achieved between who the characters are; what they need to be, and the nature of the obstacles in their path.
Even though the original 2D animation is nine-years old, even on a really big screen, it’s gorgeously detailed and fluid. When the 3D works, it’s pretty special, but even when it’s not a factor, finding Nemo remains a gem of a film. The audience, most of whom had seen Nemo at least once before by a show of hands – it was that kind, of loose, easy, fun screening) – applauded at the end as though they’d never seen it before.
Whether you find the premium price for 3D worth it will depend on how much the brilliant 3D moments make the rest not matter. For me and my companion for the morning, my 13-year old niece (it’s her favorite movie – even though she’d never seen it in a theater before), it was definitely a great time and, yes, we’d tell you it’s worth the extra three-to-five bucks.
The feature was preceded by an excellent Toy Story short called Party-Saurus Rex, in which everyone’s favorite insecure toy T-Rex gets a chance to shed his nervous nature and party down with a new group of toys.
Final Grade: A+
Photos courtesy Disney/Pixar