Disney’s “Finding Nemo” is a great catch. This is a fish story everyone will enjoy, so forget your age and be daring—go without a child’s supervision if necessary. “Finding Nemo” is a visual delight: the expansive ocean’s mysteries and majesty are brought to life, providing a wondrous stage for this epic animation adventure. As a plus, this movie teaches a good message.
Six-year-old Nemo’s adventure starts on his first day at school. Angry at his overprotective father, he swims beyond the safety of his home in the Great Barrier Reef and is captured by a scuba-diving dentist, Phillip Sherman. He then finds himself in the fish tank in the dentist’s office in Sydney, Australia. He is befriended by the other tank fish, who would love to get out, if only they could. There’s Gill, a Moorish Idol fish, who is determined to escape from the tank despite having suffered an injury during his previous attempt at freedom. Deb is a shy fish who has never had a longtime friend until she meets her sister, Flo (who is really her own reflection in the tank glass).
In the meantime, Marlin, Nemo’s fearfully overprotective father, must set out into the vast ocean to find his missing son. On his journey, Marlin must confront his own worst fears. He also meets and teams up with Dory, a fish that can read human, speak whale and understand 42 different fish dialects. Dory has short-term memory loss and an enthusiasm for life that could teach even Marlin to stop worrying and enjoy himself more. Kindhearted Dory is happy to help Marlin look for his son, even though she cannot remember if she’s looking for Nemo, Harpo or Elmo. The ocean is full of surprises for Dory and Marlin—not all of them welcome. They learn new skills and meet new friends, including a group of sharks who are racked with guilt over their rampant appetites for fish. They begin daily 12-Step meetings to offer each other support; Step 5 is “Friends are not food.” Together, Marlin and Dory learn to never give up—to keep swimming—through an unpredictable world.
Not until days after seeing the movie, while giving a friend a brief synopsis and sharing some highlights, did I come to realize that almost every character in the film had a disability.
I wondered which of us, like Marlin, would choose to search the ocean depths with a new friend who can’t remember to be afraid of sharks and doesn’t know if memory loss runs in her family because she cannot remember if she has a family? Or would we, like Nemo, risk our lives to escape captivity with a plan devised by a fish disabled by his only previous attempt? Maybe we, like the fish, need to go beyond simply accepting differences to actively working to value differences. We don’t need to fully understand or agree with something to appreciate it—I don’t really know how electricity works, but I’m glad it’s there when I flip the switch. Rather than being critical of and resisting our differences, maybe we can come to rely on them as Marlin, Nemo and Dory do. Maybe we can go beyond recognizing our differences as strengths, and begin to value diversity even more.
“Finding Nemo” is a heartwarming story of a father’s love for his son, beautifully portrayed by the spectacular animation of Disney-Pixar Studios. Nemo is a movie with heart-pounding adventure, laugh-out-loud comedy and endearing characters sure to win over movie critics of all ages. It is an exciting and enlightening movie that will entertain all.