A 2003 computer-animated film from Pixar, and the first one from the company to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.The movie takes place in and around the Great Barrier Reef near Australia, and centers on a neurotic clownfish named Marlin. After losing his mate and all but one of their 400+ eggs in a barracuda attack, Marlin becomes overprotective of his remaining son, Nemo. On his first day of school, Nemo gets fed up with Marlin's fear of the ocean, and ends up disobeying his father's orders by going near a boat. Soon after, Nemo gets "rescued" by a scuba diver, and Marlin, going against all his fears, goes off to find him. Marlin joins up with a forgetful blue tang named Dory, and they brave all sorts of obstacles to, well, find Nemo.Meanwhile, the scuba diver turns out to be a Sydney dentist who puts Nemo in his office's aquarium, and plans to give the fish to his niece, Darla, for her upcoming birthday. The other fish in the tank, most of whom are somewhat insane, decide to help Nemo escape (especially because Darla is described as a "fish killer", who, whenever she gets a fish, shakes their plastic bag too hard).This movie is notable for being Pixar's most commercially successful featurenote let alone a G-rated one until Toy Story 3, but it's still one of the highest-grossing animated movies ever made as well as the highest-selling DVD ever. It also started Disney's Oscar-winning streak and was honored with a Disney Digital 3D re-release. It didn't exactly hurt the tourism trade in Australia, either. A sequel, titled Finding Dory, is set for June 2016. Ellen Degeneres will be returning as Dory.
This film contains examples of:
3-D Movie: In September 2012. March 2013 in Europe.
Acquired Poison Immunity: Sort of. The baby jellyfish's sting doesn't bother Marlin because he lives in an anemone and is already used to stings.
Adult Fear: To a parent: your family is decimated before it even has a chance to begin. You lose the love of your life, and your innocent child is hurt. Years pass, and you try to protect your child as well as you know how — and then a horrible, monstrous force steals your child away, and you lose all trace of them...
And after journeying for days in search of said child, arriving to find them dead.
Advertised Extra: For some reason, Bruce and Crush are always shown on just about every piece of promotional material as two of the film's central characters even though their screen time is limited to only a handful of scenes.
Affably Evil: Subverted. Bruce appears to be this towards the beginning of the movie, but it's revealed that he's actually a Nice Guy. Unless he smells blood.
Animals Lack Attributes: Poor Bruce was originally animated with prominent claspers, as would be appropriate for a shark his size. Obviously they didn't make it to the final version.
Animal Talk: Most of the animals in the film talk to each other, even those that belong to different classes. The exceptions are those without complex nervous systems (sea anemones, jellyfish), predatory fish, and the whale (although it does seem to understand Dory speaking whale).
Anti-Villain: Nearly every villain in this movie is either Obliviously Evil (like Darla and the jellyfish), predatory (anglerfish and barracuda), or just lacking in self-control (like Bruce and the seagulls) and the closest thing to bad guys would be the fishermen towards the end, but even they probably see what they're doing as okay like most fishermen in real life do. This movie overall has arguably the mildest villains in Pixar movie history. To be more precise:
Type 3: Darla, the dentist.
Type 4: Jellyfish and the fishermen, under the "mere predator" definition.
Chuckles, the gift fish who was killed by Darla, was a goldfish. Which live in freshwater. The other Tank Gang fish are saltwater fish. You can see where this is going.
None of the sea turtles seem to worry about having to breathe. They also don't travel in flocks, but this was intentional, see Rule of Cool below.
Sea turtles don't live anywhere near 150 years; that honor belongs to tortoises. Their expected lifespan is still quite impressive at 80 years.
Clownfish do live in anemones but they also live in harems dominated by one male and one female, with a lot of non-productive males in the rest. When the dominant female dies, the dominant male undergoes a Gender Bender and becomes the new dominant female. Clownfish will also reproduce with their relatives in times of emergency. This particular tidbit has raised eyebrows at the choice of clownfish for the film.note Which, according to Rifftrax, gives a whole new meaning to Marlin's desperation to finding Nemo. Yikes.
Interestingly, a featurette on DVD addresses the whole Artistic License issue. An animator relates a story of one of their consultants talking about the biological inaccuracies in their final fish designs. The animator replied, sheepishly, "Well...in real life they don't talk either, so..."
Artistic License - Engineering: All drains do lead to the ocean (or at least a river or lake). It's just that raw sewage isn't dumped directly into the water; there are a number of mechanical and chemical processes in the way that, if depicted in the movie, would probably not be pleasant. A deleted scene would have had Nemo going through and struggling to dodge the filtration machines, but it was cut out of the film only a hint given that his small size allowed him to survive.
Deliberately invoked by Marlin when he gets Dory to follow him above the trench rather than through it.
Ax-Crazy: Bruce, when he smells blood. Given what he is and what happens when they smell large amounts of blood, can be justified.
Badass on Paper: Marlin gets through most of his adventures by gumption, desperation, and sheer dumb luck, but as his exploits are recounted over and over he starts to sound more and more badass. By the time the stories get to Nemo, his father is a Papa Wolf who has battled sharks and fought off jellyfish.
Blipvert: A high-speed montage of the beginning of their quest to when they finally reach Sydney plays when Dory remembers the address on the scuba gear.
Body Motifs: Three fish characters have an injured or otherwise unusual right fin — Nemo (in the opening scene), Gil (before he's been introduced), and Dory (during her near-fatal encounter with the jellies).
Cloudcuckoolander: Dory. She is the QUEEN of Cloudcuckooland. Part of it's due to her short term memory loss but anyone who thinks they can speak whale and ask a shark for directions is working on strange logic indeed.
Darker and Edgier: Somewhat, Pixar's first four films had some more emotional moments but on the whole they were very lighthearted and comedic. Finding Nemo was arguably Pixar's first foray into more dramatic territory, as in films that have comedic elements but on the whole aren't comedies.
Dedication: The film is dedicated to Glenn McQueen, an animator who passed away from melanoma before the film's release.
Demoted to Extra: Remember that pelican Gerald that swallows Marlin and Dory? Initially in production he and Nigel were originally going to be Those Two Guys, Nigel being the neat freak of the two, Gerald being scruffy and sloppy. In the finished film, Gerald's final screen time is less than a minute.
Marlin: All right, I know one joke. Um, there's a mollusk, see? And he walks up to a sea, well he doesn't walk up, he swims up. Well, actually the mollusk isn't moving. He's in one place and then the sea cucumber, well they—I mixed up. There was a mollusk and a sea cucumber. None of them were walking, so forget that I —
Despair Event Horizon: Marlin, when he and Dory return to the sea after he believes Nemo to be dead, and Dory, after Marlin leaves her.
Depth Deception: Dory and Marlin try to speak to a small fish while looking for directions to Sydney. Turns out, it's not small, so much as very far away.
Determinator: Many characters in the movie, but especially Marlin, Dory, and Gill.
Nemo: How many times have you tried to escape?
Gill: Eh, I've lost count. Fish aren't meant to be in a box, kid.
The group of sharks who have sworn off eating fish is played as if it were an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or similar drug rehab group, complete with pledge ("Fish are friends, not food"), 'steps' and interventions if one of the members has / looks like they're going to fall Off The Wagon
Downer Beginning: The film opens with Marlon and his wife Coral happily discussing their future. Then comes a barracuda, and Coral dives down to try and save her eggs. Marlin gets knocked away, and wakes up to find his wife and all but one of his eggs are gone. Here, have a tissue.
Dumb Blonde: Inverted with Dory, as in-universe, being blue is the equivalent of being blonde. She even mutters "I'm a natural blue" in her sleep.
DVD Commentary: While the audiovisual commentary track was an interesting concept, by the time you get to the second or third behind the scenes segment interrupting the movie you can see why future films do not use the technique.
They do it better in the Blu-Ray edition of Toy Story 3, where the video actually stays in the frame in a picture-in-picture.
Early-Bird Cameo: Luigi from Cars makes a brief appearance when the aquarium fish are escaping. The boy in the waiting room on Escape Day is reading a Mr. Incredible comic. Mike swims by during the closing credits.
Ear Worm: invoked "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" Marlin gripes that it's going to be stuck in his head.
Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: "Good morning, everyone! Today's the day! The sun is shining, the tank is clean and we are getting out of— (gasp) the tank is clean.The tank is CLEAN!"
Face of a Thug: The sharks, especially Bruce. Subverted that Bruce becomes dangerous if he smells blood.
Failed Attempt at Drama: Not entirely failed, since it ends up being quite dramatic, but Nemo's initiation into the "bond of fraternal tankhood" at Mt. Wannahockaloogie initially hits a snag when Jacques, who has been tasked with starting "The Ring of Fire" (or rather, the bubbles from a fake underwater volcano), doesn't pay attention to Bloat's dramatic opening speech and misses his cue.
Famed in Story: The story of Marlin's quest to find his missing son becomes legend, and Marlin himself is elevated to the status of folk hero.
Feather Fingers: Nigel. And, of course, virtually every character has fin fingers.
Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Dory and Marlin are arguing that it's just as good the whale they were trying to talk to swam away, since he might have been hungry. Dory counters that whales only eat krill. Cue a cloud of krill swimming past them with a whale's open maw right behind them.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: During Gil's Imagine Spot on their escape plan, one of the cars driving by is the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story. Continuing their tradition of putting it in every Pixar movie.
One of the other cars that pass is an early version of Luigi from Cars.
Fun with Flushing: Nemo's escape plan is to play dead and get flushed, because "all drains lead to the ocean". Many have pointed out that in reality, a fish would not survive the trip, as it would be ground up during the sewage treatment process, leading some to joke that the title should have been "Grinding Nemo".
Being Pixar, the creators had in fact painstakingly researched the Australian sewer system in order to show Nemo avoiding the perils therein, but the sequence was cut for time.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Gill has extensive scarring on the right side of his body, mostly over his face (but leaving his right eye intact) and his right fin (now as useless as Nemo's one) from a failed escape attempt, adding to his grizzled, fierce personality.
Gossip Evolution: How the news of Marlin's adventure gets around - by the time the news reaches Nemo, he sounds considerably more Badass than he really was. For example, he scared away the three sharks when Dory accidentally launched a torpedo. Nigel reports that he "blew them up".
Gratuitous French: Jacques, the shrimp who speaks almost nothing but French. First time you see him, a stereotypical little accordion ditty plays. The one exception counts as Gratuitous English: when Jacques is leading Nemo to his induction into the Tank Gang, he at first says "Suivez-moi", which Nemo doesn't understand, so he has to repeat it in English: "Follow me".
Guile Hero: Gill is somewhere between this and a protagonist Magnificent Bastard, even though his plans (almost) always fail. He's atypical in that he appears somewhat uncomfortable in this role: he has a Heroic BSOD after Nemo almost gets filleted by the tank filter while partaking in one of his plans.
Funny Background Event: There are actually quite a few. A good one is when Marlin is trying to tell his joke at the start. Nemo at first has an 'Oh, boy' expression, then an embarrassed and apologetic smile.
A meta example occurs on the 2-disc DVD introduction: whilst Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich are talking about the included bonus features, in the background you can see John Lasseter waving and then miming diving over a rail.
Handicapped Badass: Gill. Extensive scarring on his right fin makes it as useless as Nemo's atrophied one. That doesn't prevent him from being a sort of mentor to Nemo.
Hollywood Darkness: Averted in the trench scenes, which are absolutely pitch black until the anglerfish arrives. Played straight in the whale's mouth.
Hollywood Density: In the final scene where the aquarium fish finally escape, the water in their bags somehow floats above other water in the ocean.
Hope Springs Eternal: After they have escaped from a hungry shark and massive minefield explosions, Marlin and Dory are exhausted. Marlin is anxious to find his missing son, Nemo, but now he has lost his best clue for finding him — a scuba mask inscribed with the address of the diver who captured Nemo. Dory helps Marlin find hope. Discouraged, Marlin says, "That was my only chance at finding my son; now it's gone!" But Dory is not so easily deterred. "Hey, Mr. Grumpy Gills," she says. "When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim."
Humans Are Morons: More like "A Human Dentist is Misguided And His Niece Needs To Look Up What Happens When You Shake A Fish Bag."
Ignorant of the Call: Marlin thinks of himself as just a father who is desperately trying to recover his missing son. To Dory, and Nemo, the sea turtles, Nigel the Pelican, the fish in Dr. Sherman's tank, and many, many others, Marlin is a Badassdeterminator who repeatedly triumphed over unbelievable odds.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: "The Prime Minister" makes a brief appearance as one of Dr. Sherman's patients. note For the record, the Prime Minister at that time would have been John Howard.
Lethally Stupid: Darla is actually a relatively normal girl (except for the braces), what makes her an antagonist is her bad habit to shake her fishes like crazy. This is justified, however, by how young and hyperactive she is.
Light Is Not Good: The anglerfish's light may look inviting but it leads to frightening teeth.
And the other way around, as Dory's optimism, easy-going nature and encouragement helps rein in Marlin's neurotic side and keep him focussed.
Local Reference: Director Andrew Stanton is from Rockport, Massachussetts, so he included several references to it, including lamp replicas of two lighthouses in nearby Thacher Island and a photograph of "Motif Number One", a local landmark, as well as lobsters with thick "Bahston" accents and local slang ("Wicked").
Mobile Fishbowl: In The Stinger Gill, Deb and the other captives in the dentist's fish tank use the fact that they've been put in clear baggies of water while the tank is being cleaned to make their escape to the sea. This involves bopping the baggies forward through a building and across a busy roadway. Good news: they succeed. Bad news: they have no idea how to get out of the baggies.
No Antagonist: In a sense. The characters closest to being villains are Bruce and Darla, but even then, Bruce is a Nice Guy whose primal instincts only show up if he smells blood, and Darla is a hyperactive little girl who doesn't realize the harm she does to fish when she shakes their bags so hard. Neither of them are behind the plot or go out of their way to antagonize the heroes.
Super OCD: Gurgle is perhaps the definition of this trope. When he learns that Nemo is from the ocean he immediately gets Jacques to clean him. Also is visibly shaking and really nervous when the tank is really dirty for their escape plan, finally snapping and exclaiming
Gurgle: DO YOU REALISE WE ARE SWIMMING IN OUR OWN-
While watching a patient spitting out some mouthrince into a cup
Plot-Triggering Death: In a rather roundabout example, Coral's. Her death happens some years before the actual story, but hadn't it been for that, the plot wouldn't have happened, at least not the way it did.
Punctuated Pounding: A rare example of the dialog and pounding coming from different characters:
BANG Sorry about BANG Bruce, mate! BANG He's really BANG a nice guy!
I have to get out of here! BANG I have to find my son! BANG I have to tell him how! BANG old! BANG sea! BANG turtles! BANG are! BANG
The Quest. And while it's not a perfect Booker's Quest, it does meet plenty of the specifications: Monsters (angler fish), Temptations (Bruce delays then, when they get back on track, turns deadly), Dangerous Terrain (mines, jellyfish), Deadly Opposites (Marlin even ignores the guides!), the Journey to the Underworld (the whale), then the halfway arrival where the heroes realize the task is even harder than imagined. Not to mention Dory's role as Anima and how she is the one who first connects with the prize.
Road Movie: An inversion: it's underwater so there aren't any roads.
Rousseau Was Right: Nobody's really evil in this film. The barracuda at the beginning, the angler fish and the seagulls are just hungry; Darla, being a relatively normal kid, is completely oblivious to the fact that she's a fish-killer; the jellyfish are just, well, jellyfish; the dentist thinks he's saving Nemo due to him seeing his lucky fin; and the sharks are actually Nice Guys.
Turtles don't actually travel in groups, but in the words of Stanton himself, "But it was just too cool and it helped the story along. We don’t address it in the script, but they’re all off to Hawaii to go surf.”
Also, lobsters with Bostonian accents near the Australian Coast.
Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Marlin and Dory. One is grumpy and grounded while the other is perky and optimistic pushes him forward.
Scars Are Forever: The ones on Gill's face that he apparently got from trying to escape the tank.
Largely played straight. Among fish we see colorful reef-fishes, and then the stock seahorses, puffers, rays, great white and hammerhead sharks, and barracudas (will we ever see an ocean sunfish, dolphinfish, pipefish, and remoras in fiction?). The sea birds are gulls and pelicans (and what about frigatebirds, tropicbirds, skuas and so on?); the sea-mammal is a whale, the sea-reptiles are the classic Chelonid turtles: and we have crabs, jellyfishes and starfishes as the invertebrate members of the fauna.
But it's averted as well: this is perhaps the first time a deep-sea fish shows up in a relevant role in Fictionland (the anglerfish). Not only that, many sea creatures from Real Life are well recognizable by who knows. The whale isn't the stock generic large cetacean, it's quite specifically a blue whale. Tropical fish pertain to precise species (clownfish, blue tang, moorish idol, Gramma loreto and so on); one of the three sharks is a Mako; and the hero is called Marlin (the latter is lampshaded by Nigel trying to remember Marlin's name and saying "It's some kind of sport fish or something..." at one point). The chosen cephalopod is the unconventional "Dumbo-octopus". Finally the (totally unexpected) krill: talking krill!
The Smurfette Principle: The film has 9:3 male-to-female ratio. The writer explains on the DVD commentary that in fact Dory was originally male until he saw Ellen DeGeneres on television and realised that was the sweet-but-scattered tone he was looking for.
Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying: A friendly blue whale gives Marlin and Dory a ride for protection, before sending them on their way by forcing them to the back of its throat to eject them out of its blowhole. Marlin fears they'll be devoured, whereas Dory tells him to trust their giant friend. Marlin, however, was absolutely correct. A Blue whales' esophagus and wind pipe are not connected. By all accounts if forced down its throat they should have been swallowed alive.
Suddenly Bilingual: Dory, who apparently can read Spanish as well as English (and speak Whale).
Surfer Dude: Crush, and the turtles. Apparently, all of them.
Crush is 150 years old, it's not like he needs to do anything in a rush.
Survival Mantra: Many. The most famous one is 'Just keep swimming', but Marlin deliberately invokes it in one scene while playing it straight for himself. When Dory gets hurt in the Jellyfish fields, he makes Dory repeat where P. Sherman lives, while repeating 'Stay awake!' to himself.
"Swim down!" When Nemo is netted in the aquarium and again when the school of fish is caught. Also counts as Chekhov's Skill.
Suddenly Fluent in Whale: Marlin is less then impressed by Dory's claims to be able to to speak whale, especially since it consists entirely of talking really slowly. Somehow, it works. And then Marlin imitates her.
Dory: Wow. I wish I could speak whale.
Swallowed Whole: Twice. The pelican's case is possible, but the whale's isn't.
Synchronized Swarming: A swarm of fish does a series of impressions for Dory and becomes an arrow to give her and Marlin directions to Sydney.
This Way to Certain Death: On the journey to Sidney, Dory and Marlin come across a trench that they can either go through or swim over. Dory is eager to take the direct route, but just out of their sight there's a fish carcass lying at the entrance.
Partially subverted with Gerald (the pelican that tried to swallow Dory and Marlin) and Nigel, who obviously knows him far too well. They were originally supposed to be Those Two Guys, but most of Gerald's scenes were cut.
The Tooth Hurts: The scene where the dentist is trying to remove the prime minister's tooth. When Nigel the pelican runs into the window, the noise startles the dentist so much that he forcefully pulls out the bad tooth, putting the prime minister in a lot of pain.
Trailers Always Lie: A popular scene shown in the commercials was Bruce swimming through some seaweed while saying "We're looking for Nemo!" This was never used in the movie. In fact, the super hyped up sharks in the trailers were just One Scene Wonders.
Where It All Began: It ends in the reef, with the characters doing the same things they did in the first scene, only differently, reflecting how the moral has changed them.
White and Grey Morality: All the villains (Bruce and the humans) are trying to reform or misguided. There's also the jellyfish and seagulls, which are apparently too stupid to be evil. The barracuda and the anglerfish, although both vicious killers, are really just hungry by nature. Overall, this movie's villains are much milder than those of other Pixar movies.
The Window or the Stairs: Dory and Marlin come across a chasm. Dory was told that they had to go through it, and she tries to tell Marlin, who ignores her and then tricks her into swimming over it, since it seems much safer. They end up in a huge swarm of jellyfish, and they both almost die because of the stings.
Wolverine Publicity: Bruce (the shark) and Crush (the sea turtle) were both heavily promoted and feature on the movie posters and home video covers. They respectively only appear in no more than two scenes a piece.