Finding Nemo

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"There are 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean. They're looking for one."

Finding Nemo is 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.

Tropes used in Finding Nemo include:

Dory: Hey, look. "Esc-a-pay". I wonder what that means? That's funny, it's spelled just like the word "escape."

  • Adult Fear: The Pixar Film. "Adults have nightmares about what would happen when they lose their only surviving son? Let's make a cartoon about it!"
  • 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.
  • All There in the Script: Gurgle's never referred to by name. He's the purple and yellow one.
  • Alluring Anglerfish
  • And I Shall Call Him Squishy: Darla, possibly. Dory came pretty close until she learned that jellyfish sting.
  • 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
  • Anti-Villain: Nearly every villain in this movie is either Obliviously Evil (like Darla and the jellyfish) 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.
  • Artistic License: Biology: Barracuda don't have much of taste for eggs. They prefer live prey.
    • The interior of the whale's throat is too large. While blue whales have a gigantic mouth, their throat is tiny and unable to swallow anything larger a beach ball.
    • They also have respiratory and digestive traits completely separated, you know, so that they don't unintentionally sneeze fish out of their blowhole. And where is the light inside its mouth coming from?
    • 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.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: The movie ends with a Stinger of the little green fish Blenny from the sharks' meeting gobbling up the Anglerfish.
  • Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: "Hello, I'm Dory. What, you want to look for your child? Ummm... Hello, my name is Dory ..."
    • 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.
  • Badass Unintentional: Dory. She just wants to hang out with Marlin.
    • Thanks to his hijinks, Marlin gets this reputation throughout the entire ocean area surrounding Sydney.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:

Gurgle: Whatever you do, don't mention D-A-R...
Nemo: It's okay, I know who you're talking about.

Gurgle: Doesn't anyone realize? We're *swimming* in our own sh-
Peach: Shhh! Here he comes!

  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Remember that pelican Gerald that swallows Marlin and Dory? 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.
  • Derailed for Details / Cannot Tell a Joke:

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 --

  • 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.

Turtle: (to Marlin) Mr. Fish, did you die?
Dory: Sorry. I was a little vague on the details.

  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • 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.
    • Dory and Marlin's relationship has a romantic feel at times, especially at more emotional moments, and it almost feels as if she's supposed to be Nemo's "new" mom; the relationship is rather vague too. However it is supposed to be a platonic relationship. It didn't take long for shippers to notice this though...

Dory: When I look at you...I can feel it! And I – and I look at you, and I... [choking up] ...and I'm home! Please... I don't want that to go away. I don't want to forget! [1]

Marlin: Look, Mr. Turtle...
Crush: Dude, Mr. Turtle is my father. Name's Crush.

Bubbles: "The old big blue, eh? What's it like?
Nemo: "It's...big and blue."
Bubbles: "I knew it!"

  • 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.
  • 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 Magnificent Bastard and mentor 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.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu
  • 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."
  • Innocent Innuendo: "I'm gonna go touch the butt!"
  • Interspecies Friendship: Not only do different kinds of fish get along, but they also befriend sea turtles, and even species that otherwise prey on fish, such as sharks and pelicans.
  • It's All My Fault
  • Keet: Nemo on a good day. The baby sea turtles also count.
  • Land Down Under
  • Light Is Not Good: Literally. The anglerfish's light may look inviting but it leads to frightening teeth.
  • Little-Known Facts: The unseen Sandy Plankton.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Marlin to Dory. Being with him somehow cures her amnesia, but only when he's nearby.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Local Reference: Director Andrew Stanton is from Rockport, Massachusetts, 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.
  • Lopsided Dichotomy: Dory translating whale speech:

"Okay, he either said, 'move to the back of the throat,' or he 'wants a root beer float'."

BANG Sorry about BANG Bruce, mate! BANG He's really BANG a nice guy!

  • 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.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Crush is 150, and still young, dude.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Nemo and the baby sea turtles.
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • Sea Mine: a whole minefield of them too.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays
  • Shout-Out: "Heeeeeeere's Brucie!"
  • 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; and this is one of the extremely rare times in which dolphins are almost totally missing. 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!
  • Something That Begins With Boring: Dory and Marlin.
  • Speech Impediment: Darla has trouble speaking with those terrible braces.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Is Gill's name spelled with one or two L's?
  • Staring Kid: The kid in the dentist's waiting room who reacts with horror at the commotion.
  • Stealth Pun: Nemo attends a school of fish.
  • The Stinger: In the last scene before the credits, see all the fish from the dentist office after their successful escape still stuck in their plastic bags since their plan never got that far.

Bloat: ...now what?

  • 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.
    • "Find a happy place! Find a happy place!" when Darla is pounding on the glass of the aquarium.
    • "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.
  • Take My Fin: Possibly inverted.
  • 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.

Dory: Wow. I wish I could speak whale.

Nemo: Have how ever met a shark?
Marlin: No, and I don't plan to.

Fish are friends, not food!

  • Verbing Nouny
  • Waking Non Sequitur: After the incident with the sharks, Dory wakes up screaming "Look out! Sharks eat fish!" She also has "Zzz... the sea monkeys have my money... Mmm... yes, I'm a natural blue..."
  • Water Is Air: Averted. Those folks at Pixar really did their homework on this one.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?
  • What's an X Like You Doing In a Y Like This?: "What's a couple of bites like you doing in a zone like this?"
  • Where It All Began: It ends in the reef, with the characters doing the same things they did in the first scene, only differently, to reflect how the moral changed them.
  • White and Gray 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 from the stings.
  • You Had Us Worried There: When Nemo jams the filter, the second time.
  • You Say Tomato: According to Sandy Plankton a boat is called a "butt."
    • Nemo's friends could simply have been misquoting him.
  1. The romantic undertones are probably strongest in this scene.