Finally, a (relative) classic that’s actually worth watching in an extra dimension has made its way back to the big screen again in retrofitted 3D. Disney has found such a welcome audience in re-releasing some old favorites — including Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King — in 3D format, so it’s only natural that they start putting Pixar stuff back out there too. With the other repeats, nostalgia would really be the only reason to buy that premium ticket, but with Finding Nemo, there’s the added opportunity to explore the majestic underwater setting that was painstakingly rendered by the studio that remains the cornerstone for which (for better or worse and in spite of Cars 2) all other contemporary animated films are measured.
While this is usually the time that I advise all of you to just pop a DVD into the player to spare yourselves the expense of paying a premium to watch yet another recycled animated film in an added dimension, Finding Nemo might actually be worth it. The revamped movie is awash in a literal sea of colors. As always, the 3D isn’t really necessary because it was already gorgeous enough in 2D, so 3D is a plus if you can find a cinema who doesn’t skimp on the 3D projector bulbs. In other words, the 3D actually makes the experience better if everything is done correctly on the theater’s end.
As it happens, 2003’s Finding Nemo brings back such fond memories, and the film anthropomorphizes its fishy characters in a very unobtrusive way. Of course, the underwater medium is one that’s exceedingly difficult to pull off, but the rewards are vast, and the Pixar team pulls off an ocean of visuals that not only are terribly pleasing to watch as they unfold but also accentuates the emotional experience of the audience. For example, objects appear further away under water until — all of a sudden — that object is right up in the characters’ business, which can be quite frightening but adds to the suspense and momentum of the story. The 3D only adds to this effect, and it’s rather amazing to behold because, generally speaking, post-production 3D sucks ass (sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true).
For the few of you who haven’t caught this movie in its original 2D incarnation, the story revolves around an overprotective father, who just happens to be a clown fish (but has a lot in common with every other decent dad out there), named Marlin (Albert Brooks, who always does neurotic well). Poor Marlin harbors a very good reason for his neuroses too, which is easily explained by a slightly traumatic scene in which his wife, Coral (Elizabeth Perkins), and several hundred of their eggs are devoured by a barracuda. As such, the widower has a tendency to go slightly overboard with his insistence that Nemo (Alexander Gould) stay out of harm’s way; so once the first day of school arrives, Nemo immediately rebels and ends up getting himself captured and put on display in the waiting room of a Dentist (Bill Hunter). Among Nemo’s allies is a rather manipulative moorish idol named Gill (Willem Dafoe) and a pelican called Nigel (Geoffrey Rush), and all sorts of ridiculous things happen during their escape attempts, but it’s a wonderful ride to take nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Marlin finds aid from a blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), whose short-term memory loss is a constant source of jokes for the little ones in the audience. Along the way, they encounter a shark named Bruce (Barry Humphries), who is on a fish-free diet along with buddies Anchor (Eric Bana) and Chum (Bruce Spence), but not for long. Together, Marlin and Dory travel throughout the South Pacific on an epic search for young Nemo against all odds throughout the massive, never-ending seas. Highlights include an encounter with the sea turtle Crush (Andrew Stanton, who also directs), who is still a hoot after all these years, and the rest of the voice cast is simply amazing.
All the parents in the audience will easily find comfort in Finding Nemo’s themes, which center around knowing when to let your kids be kids and when they need to be protected. Overall, it’s a bittersweet combination that tugs at the heart strings, but the movie moves with such pace that such kleenex-grabbing moments are short lived indeed. Plus, there’s a new Pixar short, Partysaurus Rex, tacked onto the front end of the movie for all you Toy Story universe lovers. I’m one of those awful people who can take or leave anything to do a bathtub full of toys, but the short’s motif keeps with the water-bound feel of Finding Nemo. Overall, this is a theater experience that is well worth the 3D premium. Too bad they can’t all be like this, right?
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.