Study Guide

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo Introduction


Release Year: 2003

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

Director: Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich

Writer: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds

Stars: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould


Ready to head under the sea? Darling, it's better down where it's wetter.

Oops. Sorry, wrong Disney movie.

Okay, obviously Finding Nemo isn't the only animated film to be made about the lives of undersea creatures. There's The Little Mermaid, of course. Also A Shark's Tale. And who could forget Ponyo? But, this story about a little father and son fish in a big ocean is probably one of the greatest animated movies of all time.

(Ariel, we love you, but the whole giving-up-your-voice-for-a-guy thing is just creepy.)

This beloved 2003 film tells the story of Marlin and Nemo—a pair of father and son clownfish. Marlin loves his son, but sometimes he's a little bit protective of the kid. In fact, he's a lot protective. When Nemo is taken by a diver and whisked off to live in a fish tank on land, all Marlin's worst fears come true.

And while Nemo's ocean adventure features a whole bunch of fun fishy jokes—clownfish really do live together in sea anemones and some fish have surprisingly short memory spans—it's really not about fish at all. The movie has something to teach us humans about big important ideas like fathers and sons, friendship, fear, trust, courage, memories, and love.

Fish—they're just like us.

Of course, it helps that the concept for Finding Nemo came from one of Pixar's senior animators. Andrew Stanton got the idea for this father-son fish tale when he realized how overprotective he was of his own son. We guess lots of parents (and their kids) could relate because Finding Nemo went on to become one of Pixar's highest grossing and most critically acclaimed movies. Oh, it also won an Oscar, too.

Basically, the Pixar team behind Nemo deserves high fives—or is that high fins?—all around.

  

What is Finding Nemo About and Why Should I Care?

Parents.

No one likes their nagging—not even parents themselves. Look both ways before crossing the street. No shoes on the couch. Don't pick your nose. Don't smear vanilla frosting all over the corgi. Don't fingerpaint the new sofa.

And don't even get us started on the unholy humiliation that is having a parent lick their finger to get a smudge off of your face. That may be the single grossest act in the history of gross acts.

The struggle between parents and their kids is real.

And Finding Nemo understands this age-old conflict…and understanding that it crosses species and genus boundaries. Dads—like Marlin—want to keep their young ones safe and secure as long as possible. But kids like Nemo want to rush out into the world and experience all that dangerous stuff for themselves.

According to doctors, kids start testing limits when they're as young as one or two years old. But that's totally normal. What would actually be creepy is children never disobeyed your parents. After all, rebelling against authority figures is how kids learn to think for themselves.

And, obviously, parents should set limits (no one likes a corgi coated in vanilla frosting, except maybe the corgi himself), but they need to find a healthy balance between keeping their kids safe and letting them make their own mistakes. Kids that never learn to fail can grow up and become adults who are afraid to try new things or to take any chances at all.

(And, more importantly, they can grow up to be horribly annoying adults.)

Of course, Marlin isn't the only über controlling movie parent. (Just think about the dads in 10 Things I Hate About You or Footloose.) Like overprotective cinematic papas before him, Marlin has to learn to chill. As for Nemo, he learns to love and appreciate his dad's guidance…once Marlin tones down the you'll-shoot-your-eye-out paranoia.

But, hey: just in case a feel-good movie about parents and kiddos learning mutual love and respect sounds nauseating to you (we promise it's not—Pixar does touching, not cheeseball), here are a few other reasons you should get your Nemo on:

  • There's a shark-led, twelve step meeting
  • Willem Dafoe proves he's creepy even as a voice-actor playing a fish.
  • Ellen DeGeneres. Need we say more?
  • The Tank Gang personifies #squadgoals

And, last but not least:

This movie will make you want to save the dang Great Barrier Reef. Seriously. You cannot watch this movie and not want to do whatever it takes to save this crazy-beautiful natural wonder. (Although this movie also makes us want to never, ever, ever come face to face with an anglerfish. Those creatures are pure nightmare food.)

Trivia

Nemo actually made his first big-screen appearance in the movie Monster's Inc. He was an adorable little stuffed fish toy that Boo hands to Sully. (Source)

Initially, Pixar animators made the surface of the ocean water look too good. The bigwigs at Pixar were worried that moviegoers would just think they were using filmed footage of the sea. (Source)

Pixar doesn't play around. The production team for Finding Nemo got to visit all kinds of aquariums, go diving in the ocean, and even talk to a real ichthyologist (i.e. a person who studies fish for a living). (Source)

It's Pixar Easter egg time! The scuba diver's underwater camera has a model number of A-113 on it. That number appears in every single Pixar movie because it's a classroom number at California Arts University where a bunch of Pixar animators learned their stuff. (Source)

We guess it's our duty to tell you this, but the fish science behind this cartoon is not totally accurate. Clownfish are natural hermaphrodites who can change from male to female depending on who's hanging around the anemone. In real life, when the male Nemo was born, Marlin would have switched sexes and mated with his son to produce more clownfish eggs. Not sure if kids would psyched to see a cartoon about fish incest, but, hey, that's nature for you. (Source)

Finding Nemo Resources

Websites

Fish Are Friends
The official Finding Nemo page at Pixar's website.

Just Keep Swimming
The main article about Finding Nemo created by that treasure trove of Pixar information, The Pixar Wiki.

Extra Fresh Fish
Nemo, Marlin, and Dory get top marks (99% fresh) on Rotten Tomatoes. Visit this link to read all the amazing reviews of the movie

Book or TV Adaptations

Exploring the Reef
This short documentary film is a tour of the Great Barrier Reef with a little help from Marlin, Nemo, and Dory.

Finding Nemo: The Musical
What would a fish story be without a little music? You can see Nemo and friends sing along to their under sea adventures at Walt Disney World.

Little Golden Fish
Check out the huge selection of Nemo-themed children's book out there. Our favorite is this one from Little Golden Books.

Articles and Interviews

Free Nemo!
When Finding Nemo first came out in 2003, demand for clownfish and blue tangs (Nemos and Dorys) skyrocketed. It's pretty ironic since the movie was all about fish who most definitely did not want to wind up living their lives out in a tiny glass tank.

Nemo in Navajo
In 2016, Finding Nemo became the first kid's movie to get translated into Navajo on the big screen. The only other Navajo-language movie out there is Star Wars: A New Hope.

Video

Finding Nemo Trailer
The fishy trailer that started it all.

Finding Dory Trailer
The trailer for the sequel starring Dory herself.

Everything Wrong with Finding Nemo
Okay, we don't think anything's wrong with this movie, but the folks over at CinemaSins might have found a few little things to nitpick.

Audio

The Music of the Ocean
Enjoy the sounds of the sea with the entire film score to Finding Nemo.

Images

Not the Only Two Fish in the Sea
The movie poster for Finding Nemo: 3-D with the entire cast swimming along.

The Tank Gang
Everyone's all here in the dentist's office.

The Real Stars
Photos of the real-life fish behind Finding Nemo's most awesome characters.

Anemone Sweet Anemone
Two actual clownfish hanging out in the safety of their sea anemone home.

The Great Barrier Reef
This is the place Marlin and Nemo call home.

Map of the Great Barrier Reef
The actual reef stretches 1,800 miles down the coast of Australia, so we'd say "great" is a pretty accurate way to describe it.

It's the EAC, Duuude
This map of the East Australian Current shows you how Marlin and Dory made their way to Nemo in Sydney.

Sydney Harbour
With views like this, you better believe the rent on the dentist's office space has to be sky high.