My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after the film is that I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Watching it when I was little, I never really cared much for it. This film is where Pixar no doubt proved that they are on top, and took the throne. It is a lot more consistent than the other film (I am shocked that the other four have so many inconsistencies), the animation is bright, and the film transitions from serious to comedic very well.
There is shockingly not a lot of information in regards to the production of this film. The production for this film officially started in early 1997, when A Bug’s Life was in post-production. Director Andrew Stanton got inspiration when he went on a trip with his son to Marine World in 1992, knowing that the marine world would look brilliant in computer animation. A complete screenplay was written and completed, which was unusual for an animated film.
Classes in biology and oceanography were taken by the crew to make sure the movements of the fish and the atmosphere in the film were as realistic and accurate as they could be. Ellen DeGeneres was cast after Stanton watched an episode of the show. Apparently Megan Mullallay was cast for a role in the film based off a fake voice for her character on Will & Grace, and when she refused to use that voice instead of her real voice, she was removed from the project.
The film starts with a clownfish couple named Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) thrilled about their home in he Great Barrier Reef,and overlooking their countless eggs. Unfortunately for them, a barracuda knocks Marlin unconscious, as it eats Coral and all of the eggs but one, with the remaining egg having a scratch on it.
Many years later, Marlin is woken up by his son named Nemo (Alexander Gould), who is thrilled about his first day of school. It is revealed that Marlin became overly protective and paranoid regarding his son, which does makes sense with the experience he went through. He is dropped off with all the other kid fish in the area, and Marlin becomes overly paranoid about the school going on a field trip.
Soon after, Marlin meets Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who suffers from short-term memory loss. She agrees to help him out with finding his son, only to try to ditch him a few minutes later because of it. They meet up with some sharks (since the goggle mask by them has an address on it), and it consists of some filler, and the two hide after the shark tries to eat them after smelling Dory’s blood. It is revealed that Nemo was taken and put in a fishtank at a dentistry in Sydney. Dory is quickly annoying Marlin, but since he has no choice and is currently lost, he has no other choice than to deal with her weird personality.
The mask falls within the dark depths of the bottom of the ocean, and as they sim to it, they see an anglerfish, who tries to chase after, and eat them. Dory uses the light to look at the address on the mask, and after they manage to bail on the anglerfish, the two make their way to Sydney. Back at the fishtank, Nemo is awoken to be a part of a ritual to join “the club” that the fish are in. In order to join, he has to swim through the bubbles of a fake volcano to join.
Nemo tries to pull off the plan, but he is too scared regarding the machinery. While this is happening, Marlin tries to nicely tell Dory that he doesn’t need her anymore, but when she starts to cry, but a group of moonfish see her and go after Marlin. He realizes that he needs Dory whens he gets the moonfish to give them directions to Sydney, and the one-sided ice between them starts to break. The two become closer after they swarm through the jellyfish, and Dory is trapped and sting by them, which causes him to go back and save her. After that, they go through swimming with some surfer-like turtles, which I guess gives is a different sense of adventure and sightseeing in the film. Right when I think this scene has no purpose, Crush (Andrew Stanton)’s son Squirt (Nicholas Bird) is swimming and gallivanting freely through the waters by himself, and Crush tells him that despite the freedom the kids have, they always find their way back to their parents. This is something Marlin needed to hear. After the duo leave the sea turtles, word travels all throughout the ocean, and manages to get to a pelican named Nigel (Geoffrey Rush), who manages to get it to the fishtank.
This causes Nemo to go through the filter, and successfully sticks a rock it to dirty the tank. In spite of this, the dentist manages to install an automatic filter, so the plan is foiled. While this is happening. Marlin and Dory are swallowed by a whale, and she manages to get them out of the whale by making it sneeze. Long story short, Nemo manages to escape with Gill’s help, and goes through the toilet system to make it back into the ocean. After Nigel fails to reunite Marlin with his son, they are put back into the ocean, where Nemo bumps into Dory, who obviously reunites the father and son. As soon as they are reunited, a huge net catches Dory and a bunch of grouper fish. They manage to tell the fish to swim down, which breaks the net, so they can escape. Marlin and Nemo return home, where Squirt joins him with the other kids to school, Marlin is able to make the other parents laugh (which he could not do in the beginning of the film), and the two embrace in a tight hug before he goes off to school. Dory is dropped off to Marlin with the sharks from the beginning of the film, and they have plans to meet up next week. In the closing credits, the filter in the dentistry breaks, and Gill’s plan for them to escape finally works, though they wonder how to get out of the bags.
I just want to say that there is A LOT of characters in this film; too much for me to talk about in detail to be honest. Every character in the film offers something to the table, and adds to the overall message and development in the film. Whether it was the group in the fishtank, the sharks, the pelicans, or even the sea turtles. All of them have their own sense of humor, but it did not overtake the film, and made a likable group. There was no villain because there was no NEED for one; letting a realistic situation become the conflict on its own.
The animation for these films keep on getting better and better. This is groundbreaking due to the fact that animating water and the ocean was a hard enough task already, but to have the entire movie set in the ocean or a tank, and to have the film look so good after who knows how many animation trials and tribulations in the way, I have to give them credit. Waters look great, the fish look cartoonish enough, but not lose a lot of the reality in regarding the designs and textures. Brilliant.
I do not believe the music in the film was handled by Randy Newman, and it would be the first film in the canon to not have it composed by him. The music is the typical underwater, oceanographic score, but it works well, and sets the mood perfectly.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on May 30th, 2003, it made $339,714,978 domestically, and in other countries, made $559,492,275, adding up to a worldwide gross of $940,335,536 worldwide. It was the highest-grossing Pixar film until Toy Story 3, the second highest grossing film of 2003 (behind Lord of the Wings), thirty fifth highest grossing film, and the eighth highest-grossing animated film of all time.
It received universal praise and acclaim when it was released, with many seeing it as another gold mine for Pixar, liking the story, characters, and how they focused on the father-son relationship. Up until this point, there was not many animated films that captured the ecosystem of the ocean as well as this film did. I am not even going to get into the accolades, since the film was nominated for and won a bunch of awards yet again.
In the Monsters, Inc review, I discussed how traditional animation was becoming to underperform rapidly, and how most of the other animated film studios were doing poorly in quality and the box office. Things continued to get worse for companies like Walt Disney Animated Studios and DreamWorks Animations from 2002, and going through 2003. Examples from the former include Treasure Planet completely bombing at the box-office, causing the studio to announce that they will be shutting down their 2d animation department. The same thing happened with DreamWorks when Spirit barely made its budget back, and Sinbad was another flop under their belt, refusing to make another traditionally animated film afterwards. When Pixar has a film that made almost a billion dollars at the same time, people are going to point fingers, and the fingers were often pointed at Pixar, and their CGI films . Sure, that was a part of it, but it mostly had to do with the fact that the other companies were making CRAPPY FILMS with NO substance a lot of the time. Pixar was seen as The KING of animation, and I remember going to see this film as a child, and completely ignoring the others mentioned. I did not even know those films existed until I became a part of the animation community.
The film became a franchise, with a sequel titled Finding Dory being released in the summer, and the reception for this film has not changed since its release. Many still consider it to be one of Pixar’s best films, and it continues to make a lot of money in merchandise, and maintaining a strong presence in theme parks.
= 33.5/40 = 84%