Monday, June 21, 2010

Finding Nemo: Just Keep Swimming

Well, Pixar has done it again.  This past weekend was the opening of "Toy Story 3," and what an opening it had, making an estimated $109 million, Pixar's highest grossing opening to date.  This, of course, solidifies what everyone already knows, Pixar can do no wrong.  It's truly amazing how many great films they have made, and it's impossible to pick the very best.  Everybody has his or her favorite of the bunch though.  So, today I decided to talk about my favorite Pixar film - "Finding Nemo."

Released in May 2003, "Finding Nemo" takes place in the waters off Australia and tells the story of a clownfish named Marlin and his young son Nemo.  Due to the loss of his wife and other children, Marlin is extremely over-protective of Nemo, never letting him venture anywhere far from home.  However, when Nemo is taken by a fisherman, Marlin races into the unknown to find his son.  Through his adventures and Nemo's attempts to get back to his dad, they each learn to not be so afraid and love each other and the world more.  It's a great story with great characters voiced by great actors, such as Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe, Allison Janney, and Geoffrey Rush.  Basically, I think it's great!  (teehee)

This was the first Pixar film directed by Andrew Stanton.  (His second is my second favorite Pixar film - "Wall-e.")  All the way back in 1997, Stanton pitched his story idea to Pixar head John Lasseter in an hour-long session.  Stanton went all out, using voices, props and other visual aides.  At the end, the exhausted Stanton asked Lasseter what he thought.  Lasseter just said, "You had me at 'fish.'"  And thus began the six years it took to bring "Nemo" to the big screen.

The key animators were all sent to Australia to become SCUBA-certified and swim in the Great Barrier Reef itself.  Lasseter and Stanton wanted authenticity.  The animators were even challenged to make the ocean above and below absolutely realistic.  They ended up doing such a good job that they had to tone it back a bit, so that the audience would believe it was a cartoon, not real-life footage thrown in to the mix.  All the animators spent countless hours of research for "Nemo" studying at local aquariums, diving off the coast, watching Pixar's own 25-gallon tank at the studio, and even listening to lectures from ichthyologists.  There was only one type of research that wasn't fish-related, directly at least.  Since fish don't have enough facial expressions for a cartoon themselves, the animators studied the facial expressions of dogs to create them.

This is another one of my favorite films whose music is composed by my favorite film composer Thomas Newman.  (Remember?  He did "Road to Perdition" as well.)  Well, Newman originally wasn't hired to write the score for "Nemo."  First Pixar hired Danny Elfman to write the score.  He was going to do it for quite some time, so much time that some original promotional material for "Nemo" said "Music by Danny Elfman."  However, he eventually backed out.  So Pixar then turned to Hans Zimmer, but he turned it down as well.  Luckily, Newman was ultimately hired because I think his style of music fits so well with this story.  His music always makes me feel light and dreamy, almost like I'm floating in a sea of music.  And thanks to the lasting relationship he made with Stanton during "Nemo," his style blended perfectly again with Stanton's next project, "Wall-e." 

Now, unfortunately, there were some drawbacks to "Finding Nemo"s success.  Even though the film dramatizes the desire of fish to be free in the ocean and not in tanks, the sales of clownfish in the US skyrocketed.  Also, many sewage companies feared children might decide to set their fish free down drains because of the movie's statement "all drains lead to the ocean."  In an effort to stop this, the JWC Environmental Company put out a statement that even though all drains do eventually make it to the ocean, everything is siphoned through filtration systems before it even gets there, making a more appropriate title for the film "Grinding Nemo."

Nevertheless, I think this film is my favorite because it celebrates life and all the fun you can have in it.  Life isn't worth being worried and afraid all the time of everything that could possibly happen to you.  As Dory says, then nothing would happen to you.  To be enjoying life as much as possible is the best thing we can do while on this planet.  And cherishing all the loved ones in our life along the way.  So, check out the beauty of life today and watch "Finding Nemo."  Until Friday.  Have a wonderful week.

(Post-tidbit: You can see hints of future Pixar films in "Nemo."  A boy is reading a Mr. Incredible comic book in the dentist's waiting room (from "The Incredibles" (2004)) and later on, Luigi from "Cars" (2006) drives by the dentist's office.)


  1. Yup, Pixar alludes to films future and past all the time. The gas station in the original "Toy Story" is a Dinoco, which company later sponsors The King in "Cars."

  2. Oh, yeah, I forgot about that one! There is also a toy Nemo in Boo's room in "Monsters Inc."

  3. this is probably my favourite animated film of all time! thanks for such a great review! also thats so cool i never noticed those future tidbit things

  4. You're very welcome, Jubey! Thanks for visiting my blog. :)