BP’S Top 100 Movie List Challenge #89: Finding Nemo, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen – the Battleship Pretension Top 100 provided just that challenge.
If I had to pick one Disney film to be on this list I think it would have to be Finding Nemo. As I was watching it, I kept asking myself why Finding Nemo stands out so much from the other Disney and Pixar films. I finally decided it was down to two things: water and concise story telling. The tremendous technical achievement of setting the film in a believable ocean environment is only trumped by the achievement of the physically accurate aquarium. Plus it gives them a lot of tropes to play off of, such as the big dumb sharks, cool surfer turtles, and stupid seagulls.
The storytelling is another key aspect of what sets Finding Nemo apart. The opening scene, while heartbreaking, sets up the plot – Nemo is an orphaned child of single parent Marlin – without any excess fluff but gives the next two hours of plot enough support. You know why Marlin is such a worried parent, which sets up Nemo’s small act of rebellion of touching the boat, and why the risks Marlin takes to get to Nemo are so important.
I’ve seen Finding Nemo probably a dozen times, but watching again was so much fun. Albert Brooks is the perfect nervous parent and Alexander Gould is great as young Nemo, but the supporting cast is really superb. Ellen DeGeneres as Dory has rightly stood out over the years. She is lovable and loyal but also vulnerable without ever feeling pathetic. Plus her lines are endlessly quotable. Of course, I laugh every time the seagulls call out “mine, mine” and Nemo’s surrogate family in the dentists’ aquarium are all lovely.
Finding Nemo teaches the classic Pixar/Disney lessons about the importance of family, acceptance, kindness, and love, but it also an exciting tale of adventure, overcoming adversity, and teamwork. The film is beautiful from start to finish and a truly exceptional technical feat. Finding Nemo sets itself apart from other Disney films by having the whole package: tight storytelling, great characters, winning performances, technical brilliance, laughter, tears, and a very quotable script.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Finding Nemo ranking: Carrier