By admin | June 1, 2003

Back in the late 1980s and 1990s, Disney Animation Studios made a huge come-back from flops like “The Black Cauldron” and “The Rescuers Down Under.” It started with “The Little Mermaid” and basically continued through The Lion King. This comeback can be linked directly to the musical talents of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Their brilliant musical numbers for “Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin” brought Disney cartoons back into the mainstream. After Ashman’s death, Elton John came in to work on “The Lion King,” but even then the magic had faded.

The Lion King became the highest grossing of this last reign of Disney animation, but things were already dipping over the hill by this time. “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin” were far superior with story and concept. Much of the success from The Lion King was due to holdover from the previous films. The next animated film, “Pocahontas,” made money but was a major step backwards. Subsequent disappointments like Atlantis and The Emperor’s New Groove showed that a studio couldn’t live by Disney alone. Like Menken and Ashman, Pixar has become the new critical element for successful Disney films.

But the latest Pixar release, “Finding Nemo,” has the possibility to be their “Pocahontas” – a step backwards. The Pixar films peaked with A Bug’s Life, and the original “Toy Story” is hard to beat. While Monsters, Inc. outperformed all of them at the box office and in video sales, it just didn’t have the overwhelming punch of story and characters from these earlier Pixar movies. “Finding Nemo” has even less.

That’s not to say the “Finding Nemo” isn’t a good family film. It is. (Do be warned, however, that it opens with Marlin’s wife and 400 eggs being devoured off screen by a barracuda – not exactly the most uplifting moment in a Disney film. At least “Bambi” waited until the second act to kill the mother.) But is it worth the close to $100 million budget that now goes into these computer-generated monstrosities? Not quite.
Marlin (Albert Brooks) is a neurotic clown fish who has one son, Nemo (Alexander Gould). On the first day of school, Nemo is captured by SCUBA divers. Marlin, who normally won’t travel farther than a few feet from his protective sea anemone, must now swim throughout the ocean to find his son. With the help of the dimwitted Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), he encounters several wacky characters, including sharks in a twelve step program to stop eating fish, surfing sea turtles and a pelican with a heart of gold.

Albert Brooks, who plays his stock character of a neurotic father, does a decent job as the voice of Marlin. However, by the end of the film (which runs a long 101 minutes), he gets rather annoying. Not as annoying as Woody Allen did in Antz, but annoying nonetheless.

But the real reason to see a Pixar film is the animation, right? In all the other Pixar films, there are numerous moments where the film is photo realistic that you’d swear you’re watching actual film. In particular, the opening shot of A Bug’s Life so captures the complexity and detail of nature with the flowing grass and movement of leaves in the wind. “Finding Nemo” doesn’t have any moment like this, and in many ways is nothing more than the “Under the Sea” number from “The Little Mermaid” gussied up a bit for CGI.

Of course, the animators at Pixar will tell you different. “Look at all the detail in the ocean!” they’ll say. “We’ve got stuff floating, with currents and what-not!” True, if you examine the detail of the computer animation in “Finding Nemo,” it is incredibly detailed. Particles float by in the ocean, going in and out of focus, as if you’re watching something on the Discovery Channel. The problem is that while this is a feat in emulating chaotic movement with a computer, this isn’t all that eye-popping to the average viewer. (Of course, a true special effects fan will say that the best effects are those that people don’t recognize as effects. But this hardly sells the movie as a must-see in the theater.)

After four Pixar features under their belts, it is painfully easy to see the clichés emerging. Like all the others, “Finding Nemo” has an ensemble of wacky characters that Nemo meets in a fish tank in Sydney, Australia. These fish are somewhat funny, but they can’t hold a candle to the bevy of extra toys in “Toy Story” or the circus bugs from A Bug’s Life.

If you’ve got kids, take them to see “Finding Nemo.” It’ll keep them entertained, and they’ll like the story. It’s not really worth a full price admission, and you won’t miss anything if you wait for the DVD release. Cross your fingers, though, and hope Pixar can make a better follow-up.

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  1. Poze says:

    Has there ever been a better-looking feature-length animated film than `Finding Nemo’? We doubt it. With its shimmering underwater landscapes – be they in the vast immensity of a limitless ocean or the cramped confines of a dentist office aquarium – the film sports a look unlike anything we have ever seen before. The fish tank setting, in particular, is a veritable wonderland of eye-popping, many-hued visual splendor.

    Although the script by Andrew Stanton doesn’t scale the comedic heights of, say, `Aladdin,’ `Shrek’ or `Toy Story 2,’ it still sparkles with enough wit and inventiveness to entrance youngsters and beguile the grownups who will be joining them in their viewing. I hasten to point out that the screenplay is blessedly free of all the double entendres and off-color humor that have blighted so much alleged `kiddie’ fare in recent years. This is a film on e can watch with one’s children and grandchildren and not once have to blush or turn away in embarrassment while doing so. Creators of children’s films please take note (and take note, too, of its phenomenal box office take).

    Like many tales designed for the junior set (`Dumbo,’ `Bambi’ etc.), `Finding Nemo’ taps into the fear all children have of being separated from their parents – and the concomitant fear all parents have of being separated from their children. It is upon this common ground that members of both generations will meet in their emotional response to this film. In this case, it is little Nemo, an adorable clownfish, who is plucked out of the ocean and plunked down into the saltwater aquarium of a dentist in Sydney, Australia. The subject of the film’s title is Marlin, Nemo’s overprotective, worrywart dad who swims his way towards the continent to find and rescue his little tyke. Along the way, this Nervous Nellie parent learns a little something about giving his son the freedom a boy needs to grow up and become a man, and Nemo, himself, learns a thing or two about just what kind of a fish his dad really is.

    Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres are brilliant as Marlin and Dory, respectively, the latter a befuddled, daffy and utterly good-natured fish who helps Marlin in his epic quest not only for his lost son but his own definition of filial love. Those familiar with these two fine comedic talents in their live-action performances will actually be able to see many of their distinctive inflections and facial expressions reflected in the animated characters they are portraying.

    As directed by Stanton and Lee Unkrich, and executed by an army of wonder-working animators and technicians, `Finding Nemo’ takes PIXAR technology to its ultimate, final level of perfection – till the studio’s next release, that is.

  2. Dory says:

    Dory is dim witted you nut job! She’s the one who can read and speak whale. Dory is just forgetful and obviously smarter than you.
    P.S. Terrible review.

  3. Carlee Steinhaus says:

    The 2003 Pixar film, Finding Nemo has all the glitz and glamor that any other animation film would kill to have. The animation itself is spectacular with a tremendous amount of color and detail that goes into the scenery of the underwater world that not many of us will ever get the chance to discover. Not to mention, the plot itself leads the viewer on quite the ride of emotions throughout the entire film.
    The story itself is about Nemo, a little clown fish with a bad fin, who lost his mother to a Barracuda and all he has left is his dad. Nemo wants to start school like all the other young fish in the reef neighborhood. His dad, Marlin (Albert Brooks), has been scared to leave the reef ever since the incident with his wife and is unsure about Nemo starting school. Well, Marlins gut feeling was right. Nemo’s first field trip ends in disaster as he is taken by divers and brought back to a fish tank in Sydney, Australia.
    The different personalities of each character are what makes the plot so unique from other Pixar or animated films. The bubbly and confused character that Dory (Elen Degeneris) portrays adds more of the comedy to the film then most other characters. Marlin is more of the “debby downer” so to speak. These two characters are the ones the audience will follow the most as they continue their search for Nemo (Hence the movie title Finding Nemo). The personalities of each of these characters clash in a way that will not only add plenty of humor to the film but they also create a bond that members of all ages will enjoy following. There are many other characters that Marlin and Dory meet along the way and, though some may not be seen a lot throughout the movie, each are important in their own way in helping Marlin and Dory find Nemo. Not only is this a wonderful story to follow but it is a great tour of the deep blue sea.
    The picture itself is nothing short of magnificent. Beautiful colors, shapes and mysteries of the sea that are still kept mysterious but gives enough of an idea to how much and what is down there. The animation of the fish, ocean plants and other sea creatures keeps the audiences eyes glowing from one corner of the screen to the other. Not only were the creators of Pixar creating a movie unlike any other Pixar movie, they were creating one of the best and most memorable animation movies of its time. Not to take shots at Pixar’s A Bug’s Life or the Toy Story movies (which were all well created movies) but Finding Nemo adds so much more to what could have ever been imagined in the animation world.
    Finding Nemo could easily be one of the best movies Pixar will ever make. The tale of the determination of a father doing whatever it takes to save his son will not only keep viewers interested but will, more than likely, yank at their heart strings more than one could expect. However, this movie really reaches out and gives a hand to all the dads out there who have ever been their child’s hero.

  4. Haaah, I love all the comments and opinions! Frankly, I never heard of writer, Kevin Carr, until now. Judging from RT, Carr seems to have his own Ohio blog site, called 7M Pictures— and seems to be very active there. To be expected, reader comments at 7M can be highly animated!
    I have to admit that I lost all patience with Carr, after reading his remarks about the classic, Doctor Zhivago. I figure everyone has and should have, an opinion. Still, Carr’s comments that the great, Sir Alec Guinness should have at least attempted a Russian accent in Zhivago, to be believable, really went overboard in my opinion. Rest in peace, Alec. I still love you!

  5. Seriously? says:

    Kevin Marr, you are a goddam idiot. I don’t understand how you could possibly not like Finding Nemo. Oh there graphics were off, huh? Who gives a toot. You don’t go to the movies to watch the scenery you go to watch the story. If movies were about scenery and visuals I bet you loved Transformers and every other Michael Bay film ever invented. I bet you loved The Last Airbender by M. Night Shamalayn. I bet you hate good stories so much you thought The Godfather was the worst movie in the history of cinema, because the visuals aren’t too great. “Oh, I really didn’t like The Godfather because they talked too much and didn’t show any mountains and stuff” – Kevin Marr the dumbest f*****g idiot to ever walk the planet. Oops it’s kevin carr, you should get a carr and drive it off a cliff you dumb bastard piece of a*****e shitface m**********r.

  6. Mark Bell says:

    I doubt Kevin will read this; he hasn’t written for the site since September 2004. I’m not sure why he stopped writing for us, but over the now 17 years of FT’s online life (28 if you count the magazine years), we’ve had many writers come and go. Again, this review was written and published in the Summer of 2003; it’s almost 10 years old as of this comment.

  7. Sorry, the guy’s name is here (and in rottentomatoes as well)… Kevin Carr is the name of the man. My bad. So Kevin, next time you should maybe keep your opinion for yourself.

  8. “I personally didn’t write the review. We have, and have had, many different critics write for us over the years.”

    Mark, the review should be signed by the person who wrote it. It appears as yours in rottentomatoes. And you should probably get rid of him/her if you havent already. To say that it wasnt woth expending US$100 million to make this picture is just not very smart.

  9. YouSuckKevin says:

    Dude this is the worst, most begrudgingly hateful review I’ve ever read. I really hope you didn’t get paid to write it. Finding Nemo is a masterpiece, and clearly you just wanted to be different. You, sir, are nothing but a troll, a bitter, douchebag troll. You need to revise this review, or delete it, or apologize.

  10. TG says:

    @Mark Bell. Okay it’s been nine years since the review – be honest, was this review a big joke or a publicity stunt?? WHY would you publish it??

    • Mark Bell says:

      It was not a stunt; was writer’s opinion, as most reviews are. It ran because that’s what we do, and we don’t censor our reviewers’ honest reviews.

      And just to the whole stunt angle, I don’t know what that would achieve, now or then. It’s not like, 9 years ago, people were so rabid about Rotten Tomatoes scores as they are today. Comments only really picked up steam about this review in recent years. Again, though, opinion. It’s a flick many love, but haven’t you ever liked or disliked something outside the popular consensus? It happens. Usually not because you’re being a contrarian, but because it’s how you honestly feel.

      And, again, the climate for online writing, while differences in opinions and online bickering obviously were going on 9 years ago, was different. Back then, it was just a review folks did or didn’t agree with. Not like Pixar lost any sleep over it, don’t know why anyone else would.

  11. Ebutler says:

    Wow I can’t believe you would respond to all these comments 9 years after writing this. I still can’t believe you wrote such a negative review of this movie.

    • Mark Bell says:

      I personally didn’t write the review. We have, and have had, many different critics write for us over the years.

  12. Mark Bell says:

    Aziansin, yes, this review was posted on June 1, 2003.

  13. aziansin says:

    This review seems like it was written in 2003 when the movie originally released. He also mentions to wait for a DVD release. By now everyone owns the DVD and we are waiting for the 3-D BluRay. I agree it’s a waste of money to see in the theaters personally, but if you have children, especially ones that have never seen the film, it’s a must. I hope movies/cartoons like Finding Nemo stay alive for generations to come because the current junk on TV is rotting the minds of our children.

  14. gamer says:

    How can anyone dislike this movie? It’s so funny, witty and amazing. This review is weird…

  15. Comic Book Guy says:


  16. Adam says:

    “this isn’t all that eye-popping to the average viewer.”

    ….Really?!? From everyone I’ve ever talked to, and based on hard gotten evidence from my own two eyes, this was easily Pixar’s most vibrant and beautiful film. Not to trot out the cliches here, but – what are you, blind? Worst review I’ve read in like two months.

  17. Brad says:

    In general, this is an objectively poor review. Instead of covering how interesting you find the side characters or the photorealism of the animation (something that becomes increasingly subjective throughout this review), why don’t you bother to critique the–you know–narrative? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems the storyline in “Nemo” rises a little above the likes of the original “Toy Story” (let’s face it, a simple buddy movie featuring groundbreaking animation whose narrative only truly evolved in its sequels) and “A Bug’s Life” (in the obvious vein of “Seven Samurai”, “The Magnificent Seven”, and perhaps most notably the “Three Amigos”). Why not cover that? Instead, every complaint comes off as petty and trite here–which is a shame, because I do enjoy a negative review that actually bothers to make a point.

  18. TrollKiller says:

    What a troll. You only gave this great movie a negative review because no one else did. You’re the Uwe Boll of film reviewers.

  19. Chachi says:

    Red Jenny for the win.
    Finding Nemo is fantastic, ya big dummy.

  20. Ben says:

    First off let me say that apart from the works of Studio Ghibli, Pixar has created some of my all time favorite animated films, with Finding Nemo being no exception. However, since when was Pixar known for making “realistic” looking characters/sets? In every single film of theirs they have added their own stylistic touches to both the characters and the sets. I don’t understand why people are saying that the design could have been more “realistic”. If the design was more realistic, as with the previous films, not only would the entire mood of the story change, but I doubt the films would even exist as talking fish and toys are not that realistic to begin with. I am also disgusted with Kevin Karr’s review to the fact that he bases his entire review of comparing it to other Pixar films. I hate when people review a piece of art only by directly comparing each and every aspect of it to preview works by the same artist. Yes, comparison to previous works is natural and I don’t think anyone can help themselves from doing so, however to base an entire review off of how OTHER films are better than this one is beyond me. As Luke stated, try not to solely determine how good something is or not by only comparing it to something else. You will almost always be disappointed, at least at first. I think the reasoning behind this is that a previous film has had ample time to really be absorbed into both your mind and soul, and thus a stronger connection to the film is formed. When you watch a new film, no matter how good it is, you simply don’t have as strong of an emotional connection to it immediately, and therefor might dismiss it as inferior (I am not talking about all films, as there sure has been some exceptions to this). Its the same with music. You rarely will listen to a new album for the first time, and love it more than your previous favorite album. You also won’t really be able to accurately judge it until a few more listens. Moral of the story, try not to compare works of art to previous works of art! You will only be disappointed. Try to see the beauty and uniqueness that exists holding the work up only to itself.

  21. Red Jenny says:

    Oh, hipsters. You’ll drink PBR because everyone knows it’s awful and you’ll hate Finding Nemo because everyone in the world loves it. Good for you, brave seer, for seeing what everyone else missed. Yours is a high and lonely destiny.

  22. Glen Cameron says:

    Thank you for not being afraid to speak your mind and judging the film on its merits, while taking in to consideration Disney and Pixar’s body of work. I find myself agreeing with you on every point. Clearly there are many fans too blinded by their love of everything Pixar do that they cannot judge their films objectively. Which is a pity, because in the time since this review was written, things have not improved much.

  23. JT says:

    Finding Nemo is a great film. Anyone who disagrees with this is just trying to be different and begging for attention. Some people think it’s cool to hate what’s popular simply because it’s popular. The same thing happened to Titanic. Don’t listen to this review. Finding Nemo is a modern classic.

  24. what's up says:

    kevin carr … more like kevin marr (marrtherf*cker)

  25. Just keep swimming!! says:

    You sir, are a hateful bitch. The special effects in the movie were marvelous and while the characters didn’t look totally realistic, it’s a kids movie so it has to be bright and colorful. I don’t understand how you can sit there and say the movie wasn’t pleasing to the eye. And the storyline was, in my opinion, very deep and emotional at times and yet still light hearted and witty. The perfect family movie that was also inspirational. I actually cried tears of joy. Real talk yo. In the end I believe the message was, as doris said, just keep swimming and never give up in life, because live will help you find the way. And I believe it also sent a message to this generation of overprotective parents to loosen up a little and let your kid live their life, because if you become too protective you’ll end up over sheltering them from the world out there and that can cause your child to hold some hostility towards you ( like when nemo went out to the boat and defied his father, out of spite.) anyways, it was a great and memorable film that I think is a classic. So…ciao bitch!

  26. shartavia says:

    findin nemo is awesome!!!!!!!

  27. Luke says:

    This movie is great. Plain and simple. Pixars stories are not the usual uplifting stories. They show how love can eventually prevail over all else. I have loved almost everything in all of Pixar’s films and always find it funny how no trailers or promotions can prepare you for the funny and caring stories inside. Especially in Finding Nemo.
    A few “flaws” that you find in this movie are in the special effects and the drama of the story.
    The special effects are inspirational and were leading the market when Finding Nemo was released and still compare well today. You complain that they are not realitic enough as in Bug’s Life, but this movie didn’t need to be “photo-realistic” to look great. It’s the feel of it. In Finding Nemo, Pixar altered the animation type to a more saturated and exaggerated view, to show the seas artistic beauty and to offer a laid-back animation whcih was pleasing to the eye, but not eye-popping. I felt that this made the backgrounds much better, interesting and still realistic enough to please most audiences.
    You also say that the story is too cliche because Marlin is an average figure and he gets annoying, but to really appreciate the story its like you said, the things you don’t see, in that you have to understand who Marlin is in the end and see why he wasn’t always. The lesson is to embrace life and love and Marlin may seem annoying, but it won’t bother you if you actually think about who he is and how the story surrounds him (Also, most characters in any movies get annoying sometimes).
    If you want to truly appreciate this movie, you need to have a fresh mind before you watch it and think when you’re watching it, because Pixars movies are deeper than the average sit-down-laugh-eat-cry-leave of many movies.
    The way you chose to review this movie is odd and unfair too. You chose to compare this movie to other movies by the same company, which is unfair in that Pixar is now a large and successful company. When A Bug’s Life was made, Pixar was a lesser known, and before Toy Story, nearly unheard of to any average person. They had time and little pressure to develop an inspirational and heartfelt story and work on the new special effects to make their early films great. But as time has gone on, Pixar has been drained of some of its heart and are constantly under pressure to maintain its high status. I’m not saying that Pixar is any worse, because they now have a large staff and work hard to keep their stories and special effects ahead, but you can’t compare two movies by the same company and assume they should both be great in different ways yet identical. If you do this in the future, you will see the best movie, then never see one as good ever again. Once you see that, all future experiences will be downhill.
    Try not to compare. Try to see each movie as it’s own. Try to see what makes it so special to people that it is now the highest selling dvd of all time.

  28. eewilson says:

    This reviewer admits his/her own stupidity in the review! Although I like Wall-E and Up better, I can admit that Finding Nemo is Pixar’s best film so far. Between the animation with its *copious details*, the growth of the characters, great voice overs, wonderful script, and the consistent storyline, this is the pinnacle of family film.

  29. artemis says:

    dude. get a life. if you cant animate as well as the pixar folks that really is not a big issue. they’re pros not you. so stop being sullen about what you cant do and try watching the movie as you should’ve, with your mind on the story and not why they can animate better than you.

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