FINDING NEMO is an outstanding film, a modern-day animated classic from Pixar, that has managed to age gracefully in the nine years since it was first released. Outside of a couple of dated entries (Fabio?), NEMO still delivers on its two story fronts – one about a father searching for his lost son, with the second about the son growing into his own independence. If you really liked it back in 2003, that’s not going to change with the 3-D re-release of FINDING NEMO. If, for some reason you hated it then, that’ll hold true today as well. However, depending upon your station in life, you may wind up with a different appreciation for the film.
Now in my early-30s, FINDING NEMO is a whole new movie to me, because it’s an entirely different perspective from which I’m watching. As a husband and a father, there’s a deeper emotional resonance to this story of a single dad just trying to do the best he can for his son while trying to protect him from all the horrible things that could await him out in the world. I can’t imagine what life would be like without my wife, but, with two children now in the fold, it becomes even more painful to think of trying to raise a couple of kids without her help and support. Taking that a step further though, I’m constantly concerned about the well being of my children. Just the other day, my son fell off the playground at the park, and I felt horrible for not being there to catch him, to stop it from happening, having been no more than 20-25 feet away. I felt like a horrible parent, somehow responsible, for the pain my boy was feeling… but you know what? Within 10 minutes or so, he was right back at it, not climbing that same spot, but playing elsewhere, bouncing back as if nothing had ever happened. I was the one who had taken his fall the hardest, because of my status as a worrying parent. Hopefully, he’ll have taken his drop as a lesson on how not to climb that one area, and he’ll learn from that moving forward. That’s all we can hope for as parents. We have to hope that we raise our children with the tools to make their own mistakes, learn from them, and then proceed with that knowledge to do something better with their lives… well, this and that they don’t grow up to be some kind of asshole, too. But I can’t hold his hand through life. I can’t do the same for my daughter. I can now while they’re really young, but at some point, I’m going to have to be prepared to let go a little bit at a time as they try to grow up, even as my reservations about other people trampling their happiness and innocence, or corrupting their sweetness builds.
Upon this viewing of FINDING NEMO, it was Marlin’s story that hooked me more. I could identify with his worries and concerns for his son, just trying to protect him from the harshness of the world. I could feel his panic in losing his son, his drive to find him, no matter what. I could see the film in a totally different way, as I’m sure Andrew Stanton intended, allowing generations to grow with the film over time, taking different things from it depending upon your experiences. From that, FINDING NEMO reaches a new level of brilliance, in shifting that focus from child to adult as you yourself make that transition.
There’s still plenty of Nemo’s story arc that hits home, too, as the struggle to find our own footing, gaining that independence from our parents, where we can say we’re doing it all on our own, remains freshly familiar, at least to me. We never really grow out of being our parents’ kids, and while I can’t speak for everyone’s home life, I know that my parents always want the best for me. They’re not hovering over every stage of my life, but they just want to see me do well. And that connection to the father-son relationship in FINDING NEMO is something that has always landed for me about the film, first from the son side of the equation, and now as a father.
As for the re-release, it’s your prerogative whether you want to drop the extra few bucks for 3-D. To my knowledge, you’ll be getting some goggle-style eyewear with your 3-D admission, so, if that’s worth it to you in order to own some NEMO glasses, then go ahead and see it in the new format. However, let me warn you… it really doesn’t add anything to the presentation. FINDING NEMO is crisp and bright due to the color palette Stanton used in bringing this underwater world to life, and, because the film wasn’t originally intended to be seen in 3-D, there’s nothing that really pops off the screen for you, in terms of gimmick or depth, that warrants use of the extra dimension. My recommendation for seeing FINDING NEMO again rests solely on the coolness of being able to watch this Disney great on the big screen again. I had seen it that way back when it was first released, and this time I was able to share the experience with one of my kids (the other is still too young). That chance to bond over some Disney magic is what The Mouse has prided itself (and its success) on over the years, and it’s a formula that works. My son had a blast watching this film for the first time, telling me his favorite part was the one with the shark, and that’s where this opportunity to see FINDING NEMO again really works. If you want to catch it in 2-D, be my guest. You won’t be missing anything from the 3-D projection, except the glasses, and you’ll still be taking advantage of the chance to see FINDING NEMO as best appreciated.
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