The thing I never get about grown-up Disney fans is the obsession with the Princesses. As a 28 year old who has a room filled with toys and a wardrobe full of clothes covered in pop culture references, I worry about all of the people that walk around covered in garish depictions of the royal women of Disney. I don’t really think I’ve ever been as enamoured with the Princess ones as I have with the animal ones. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White are all well and good but I didn’t give a shit about finding Prince Charming pr having the big fancy wedding. I loved The Fox and the Hound and 101 Dalmatians because I really love dogs. I didn’t want to be Aurora: I wanted to be Simba. I guess, when it comes down to it, animated films are better suited to non-human characters because it is able to give a voice to those without a voice. I realise that live action films about animals do exist but there is something so creepy about it. I mean Babe is a great film but talk about the uncanny.
When it comes to animated features there are few studios that have capture an audience’s imagination like Pixar. Everyone has their favourite Pixar film and, in my experience at least, that usually comes down to one of two choices The first is Wall-E, an adorable film about a waste-collecting robot, or Finding Nemo. “Which is my favourite of the two?”, I hear you cry. No doubt about it Finding Nemo. I may have been a little older than Pixar’s main target audience when it came out 13 years ago but that didn’t stop me absolutely adoring this film. It’s utterly fantastic. With the release of its sequel last month I was given the perfect chance to revisit the classic children’s film.
Now I’m not for one second going to sit here and pretend that I even need to sit here and convince you all that this film is worth a watch. We all know it to be true. Instead I’m just going to quietly gush about just how great this film is. Not least because it takes us into the depths of the ocean. Now a film about a bunch of fish may not have seemed like the most engaging topic back in 2003 but now we know differently. The characters may be cold-blooded but their story certainly warmed our hearts. We have sat on the edge of our seat as Marlin, a widowed clownfish, overcame his deep-seated neuroses to save his only son. We have fallen in love with the positivity of Dory, the blue tang suffering from memory loss but who just “keeps on swimming”. We cheered as Nemo, Marlin’s son born with a deformed fin, managed to help his friends escape to freedom. This film has everything.
It also has the perfect voice cast who perfectly work with their character’s animation. Each actor helps create a very real and deep character that it is impossible not to engage with. Albert Brooks is ideal as the worrisome Marlin who, after the death of his wife, lives in fear of the ocean’s hidden monsters. Ellen DeGeneres is perhaps the only person with enough charm and energy to play the well-meaning and inspiring Dory. With supporting roles from actors like Willem Defoe, Geoffrey Rush, and Allison Janney, Finding Nemo is perhaps, in my opinion anyway, one of the best cast animated films ever made.
On top of that it’s also a fucking visual spectacle. If, for some unknown reason, the cast and the narrative don’t have you engrossed then the sheer scale of the backdrop will. We are taken on a watery journey through coral reefs to the ocean deep and into the aquarium in the middle of a dentist’s office. The skill that was involved in not just creating the backdrop but in making the underwater scenes feel authentic is just awe-inspiring. There was a fucking insane amount of research put into creating a realistic underwater setting the ensure every detail felt real. Everything is perfect; from the lighting, physical properties, movement, colour, reflections and so on. I could watch Finding Nemo on repeat and not pay attention to anything but the visuals and I’d still be raving about how great it is.
There’s no real mystery as to why Finding Nemo is so often hailed as Pixar’s best. It features a story that is funny, emotional and just scary enough for both children and adults alike. The characters are often more human than the people seen in their other offerings and you certainly care about them more. The animation is just breathtaking. I can’t recommend this film enough and I can’t wait to see it again and again.