If you don’t know what Finding Nemo is, what are you doing at an animation website? It’s only one of the most popular animated movies of all time, responsible for every “Hey, it’s Nemo! Look, Dorys! Hey Mom! Hey Mom! It’s Dory!” at every aquarium on earth for the last decade. It’s also the movie that set the “Pixar” template, such as it is or at least was for a little while, more so than any other of their production. It’s all the more amazing when you realize it was only the fifth movie that Pixar had ever made under their own name.
Short summary for the one person who maybe hasn’t seen it before: Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish, loses his wife and all but one of the eggs they were waiting on to a barracuda attack. As a result of the attack, Marlin is the biggest worrywart on the reef, and Nemo, the one survivor, has a damaged fin. Nemo is captured by a human diver during a fit of defiant pique and gets taken back to Sydney to be a part of a fish tank community in a dentist’s office before becoming a present for a young girl with a bad habit of killing her fish. Marlin mounts a one man search and rescue effort, having gotten a hold of a diver’s mask with the address of the fishnapper on it. During his travel he meets a blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) who can read human–at least when she can remember her own name. Short-term memory loss don’t ya know. The journey leads Marlin to a number of revelations about himself, along with meetings with wannabe-vegetarian sharks, a cloud of jellyfish, and some very stoner-esque sea turtles.
While the plot may be balanced a bit like an upside down layer cake, everything works marvelously, helped by the pitch perfect performances from the entire cast and animation that still looks exquisite even nine years later. Yes, it’s not as detailed as something released this year, but it still looks amazing because they got the details right. There’s never an instance where a background is badly lit, or something moves in a way that is physically impossible. Even in a movie about talking fish, getting those kinds of physical details right is the difference between something that will stand the test of time and something that will look chintzy and cheap after a few years.
Timeless humor, rather than riffing on current popular culture, is equally important. Nothing is more tiring than seeing a movie stuff itself to the gills (haha) with all kinds references to things that no one will care about in five years. A subtle Star Wars riff is always appreciated. Blaringly loud “PARODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” is not, and Finding Nemo thankfully stays far far far far away from being obvious. It also helps that no one was cast as a stunt to get a big name in the film. Everyone fits the parts they play perfectly, especially DeGenres as Dory. Granted the role of Dory was written specifically with Ellen in mind, so that certainly helps, but every other role is equally well done and acted.
The new Finding Nemo Blu-Ray set includes a pretty nice set of extras. The principal extra is the cinexplore commentary plus track. Rather than just hearing the production crew chatting over the movie, the cinexplore setup features a number of different extra bits thrown in. The commentary also includes quite a bit of production layered over the screen in creative ways. It’s also not a continuous track of the same people the entire time. Several different interviews are cut together in various ways to complete the track.
The package also includes a reasonably in-depth 25 minute making-of featurette, a variety of short bits about little parts of the production that seem to have come from a website judging by their length, a little comedy bit featuring Jean-Michel Cousteau and the cast from the film doing a faux nature documentary, several scenes in storyboard form that had been cut from the film, and a couple of outtakes from the vocal recordings. Oh, and there are several “aquariums” made out of various backgrounds from the movie. I have no idea why these things are on there as it seems like an open invitation to hideous waste of power by leaving your hi-def tv and Blu-Ray player running for hours on end doing, well, nothing. The set reviewed here in the 3-disc set that includes the movie on Blu-Ray and regular DVD as well as a second Blu-Ray containing more extras. There is also a single disc release and a 5-disc release that includes the movie in 3-D and a disc you can use to legally download the movie, should you feel the need.