Somewhere beyond the sea, Finding Nemo returns to theatres in 3D! The breathtakingly gorgeous animated feature first provided audiences with a glimpse into the environments and lives of the ocean’s inhabitants just about ten years ago. Only Pixar could develop such an enchanting atmosphere with a heart-tugging story that grasps the audience’s full attention as much as the visual “eye candy.” For a number of reasons, this is quite possibly the most immersive and entertaining 3D film I have experienced.
To be considered in this extraordinary league requires several components, and Nemo delivers in all of these ways. For one, you need a compelling plot. Who can argue with gripping storytelling that ties us to the universal theme of parents allowing their children to let go? In this case, little clownfish Nemo’s surprising capture by a diver startles us. Here, caring father Marlin (voiced by the perfectly-cast Albert Brooks) finally brings Nemo (Alexander Gould) to his first day of school, and in a matter of minutes and an act of defiance, Nemo wanders beyond the reef. Caught. Gone. We feel for Marlin, lost without his little boy, and also for his son, now stuck in a dentist’s office aquarium. Now it’s up to each of the fish to face their fears, overcome their doubts, and attempt to reunite. Compelling, check.
But possessing a heavy dose of drama only accomplishes its mission effectively if a healthy balance of comedy comes into play. Three major characters serve much of the humor in major laugh-inducing measures. Ellen DeGeneres’ inspired work as short-term memory-loss sufferer Dory not only stole the film, but also helped revitalize her career at a time when her talk show was just beginning to launch. As the forgetful, but good-natured Regal Blue Tang, DeGeneres exhibits her deftness for comedic timing, and her sometimes-overlooked ability to convey deep emotion. Director Andrew Stanton voices Crush, the laid-back Green Sea Turtle whose favorite pastimes include hanging ten on the East Australian Current and using “surfer dude” lingo. We can all thank Crush for encouraging us to use “whoa” and “righteous” in our daily dialogue. Everyone knows Crush is side-splitting, and had the movie not included this character, I doubt audiences would have responded to the film as favorably. Last, but not least, Australian actor Barry Humphries’ role as Bruce the Great White Shark thrives on all counts. “Fish are friends, not food,” he recites with Anchor and Chum, also following the same program, and Bruce makes a splash in the riotous scene when he loses control in the submarine. Hilarity, check.
Okay, so here we have a film that supplies a near-impossible poise between profound drama and overwhelming laughter. That’s a rarity in itself. Now you throw in among the most stunning animation ever put on screen, and you have a near-perfect film. Finding Nemo delighted audiences due in large part for showing this undersea setting in a manner that took their breath away. Pinocchio and The Little Mermaid finely exemplified the skill and technique of artists who designed submerged surroundings for hand-drawn films, most visible in the scenes featuring Monstro and Ursula, respectively, but Finding Nemo took this to another level. Or, rather, under another level. The advances in capabilities of computer-animation continue to advance with each passing year, and even nearly a decade later, the locales within Nemo appear astounding in scale and detail. Sure, audiences would have been drawn to this film because of the aforementioned wonderful mix of spectacle and wittiness, but the background in which the plot takes place is essential to completing the picture. From the tint that shades the menacing scenes, such as within the whale, to the vibrant colors and characters that situate the coral reef scenes, Nemo shows its capacity to highlight both the coolest and warmest aspects of the sea.
The box-office-winning clownfish and his pals cashed in hundreds of millions of dollars during its initial release in 2003, so it only made sense to capitalize on Nemo’s popularity and the growing trend to convert classics into 3D. Many film-goers might wonder if seeing Finding Nemo 3D, for the purpose of catching the masterpiece in this additional dimension, is worth the ticket price. One word. Absolutely. Entirely immersive, the 3D addition allows viewers to feel like they can reach into the scenes and appreciate the details even more. Pixar’s subtlety in providing this deep-window view into the worlds of their films was evident from the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D double-feature conversion three years ago. Since 2009’s Up, all of their films have been released in both formats, but it is Finding Nemo that lends itself best to the format. The main reason lies in the underwater nature of the film, which translates most strikingly in 3D, but I would add that the minute facets of the environments, including the aquarium grime, whale teeth and even the bubbles, stood out to me. Though nothing really pops out on the screen, the 3D immersion helped me realize little elements I had never truly discovered.
We cannot forget the other bonus of catching Finding Nemo 3D, which is seeing the latest of the Toy Story Toons, Partysaurus Rex. Imagine Rex at a Rave. And there you have the short, set to a techno-beat vibe, in a bathtub of all places. The nervous dinosaur toy has always longed to let loose, but trapped in his shell, is considered a “party pooper” by Mr. Potato Head. Rex’s chance to release his inhibitions arrives after playing with Bonnie’s bath toys, who cannot have fun without any water. If only there was a toy with hands that could turn the faucet? The party arrives and so does the fun. I was entertained every second, with all of the sight gags and one-liners like “What’s up, fishes!” Here’s looking forward to the forthcoming shorts and Toy Story-themed television specials.
Viewing Finding Nemo 3D in theatres is like rediscovering that old movie you remember from your childhood, realizing how that enchanting world continues to delight, and feeling as if you can reach inside the scenes. The only thing that might bite is carving out $10 – $15, but the rewards far outweigh the cost. So grab some shell and swim out to your local cinemas, because as Crush would say it, Finding Nemo 3D is “totally awesome.” Indeed.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Return back next week for another edition of Disney In Depth. Catch alerts for upcoming editions of the column by following me on Twitter. Have a good week!