"There are 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean. They're looking for one."
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, 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 feature until Toy Story 3. It didn't exactly hurt the tourism trade in Australia, either. A sequel, titled Finding Dory, is set for November 2015. Ellen Degeneres will be returning as Dory.
This film contains examples of:
3-D Movie: In September 2012. March 2013 in Europe.
Dory: Hey, look. "Ess-cop-ay". I wonder what that means? That's funny, it's spelled just like the word "escape."
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.
Actor Allusion: Peach, played by Allison Janney (more famous for playing C.J. Cregg on The West Wing) announces that the dentist is about to do a root canal, bringing to mind the hilarious West Wing episode "Celestial Navigation".
There are a couple of allusions (the song "Beyond the Sea" and the line "That's my boy.") to Albert Brooks in My First Mister
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...
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.
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.
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..."
Deliberately invoked by Marlin when he gets Dory to follow him above the trench rather than through it.
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.
Ax Crazy: Bruce, when he smells blood. Given what he is and what happens when they smell large amounts of blood, can be justified.
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.
Creator Cameo: Director Andrew Stanton is the voice of the gnarly Crush.
Cub Cues Protective Parent: When Marlin slaps away a baby jellyfish with his tail after it stings Dory, the swarm of adult jellyfish immediately start swimming toward them.
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.
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.
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
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.
Ear Worm: invoked "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" Marlin gripes that it's going to be stuck in his head.
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.
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 "Survez 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 to be a sort of mentor to Nemo.
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.
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.
Rule Of Cool: 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 accent near the Australian Coast.
The Red Stapler: After the release of this movie, kids wanted clownfish and others seen in the movie. Ironic, considering half the movie involves Nemo wanting to escape life in a tank.
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.
At one point, Nigel refers to the dentist as "Diver Dan" - a reference to Australian dramedy Sea Change.
In the process of getting Nemo's name wrong, Dory names at least two of The Marx Brothers - Chico and Harpo.
Shown Their Work: The entire Pixar staff had to take a graduate class in fish biology before making the movie.
Simultaneous Arcs: Most of the movie splits between Marlin in the ocean and Nemo in the tank.
Small Taxonomy Pools: 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!
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.
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.
Talks To Whales: 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.
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.
What Could Have Been: A deleted scene had Nemo making it through the sewage treatment plant. While this would have explained the question raised by the scene's absence, it was cut, possibly for being too frightening.
According to the DVD commentary, the director cut the scene for two reasons: First, it put too much more focus on Nemo- as Marlin is the main character of the film. Second, it didn't add anything that the rest of the movie hadn't already done; making it just a repeat of the filter scenes.
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.