3D Release Date: September 14, 2012
Original Release Date: May 30, 2003
Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family
Rating: G (for general audiences)
Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, William Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush

Nine years after its release (see our original review here), Finding Nemo still has the power to charm children and adults alike. The coming-of-age story of loving and letting go, the humor, the sweetness—they’re all still there. The voices—perfectly cast—are the same. So what’s not to love about the 3D version of this animated classic?

Sadly, it’s the 3D. When I first heard Nemo was going 3D I was excited. If any film seemed to have been made for that transformation, surely it was this one. All those glorious underwater scenes: the anemone waving gently in the current, Bruce the shark in the grip of an intense craving for fish, Nemo’s brave journey into the aquarium filter... they’ll be gripping in 3D! It will be like being in the water with our fishy friends... or not so much.

In fact, the best 3D moment came from the preview for the upcoming Despicable Me 2. If you’re looking for eye-popping, made-you-jump, “wow” moments, find another film. The Nemo conversion is much more subtle than that (one might even call it underwhelming). Sure, Nemo’s characters float gently a few rows out from the screen. Sure, the oceanscape—particularly the jellyfish field—has a little extra depth to it. But I was expecting it to be fabulous, and fabulous it most definitely was not. It wasn’t even close. Honestly, it wasn’t much improved from a recent viewing of the original on a friend’s big screen HD television. I’d call it more 2.5D than 3D. And considering the price of movies these days, especially with the 3D upcharge, I’m not so sure it’s worth it.

That being said, Finding Nemo is still the same fantastic story. Parents will still identify with Marlin (Albert Brooks, The Simpsons Movie) and his understandable but stiflingly overprotective nature. Kids and adults will feel for Nemo (Alexander Gould), whose one small, rebellious bid for freedom goes horribly wrong. And who can possibly resist Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) and her confused but goodhearted companionship? Sea turtle Crush (Andrew Stanton) and his son Squirt (Nicholas Bird) are the same chilled-out dudes (Squirt and his little turtle friends did seem to benefit from 3D-ification. Either that or they’re just way cuter than I remembered). The sharks are still scary-friendly and Darla the Terrible is still just horrifying. As for the ending: I defy anyone to watch the reunion of father and son without getting a lump in their throat.

It’s all still so good—and the 3D conversion certainly doesn’t hurt anything and probably helps, just not as much as the hype or your assumptions might lead you to believe. If you have kids who haven’t seen the movie or you just want to watch something funny, uplifting, and sweet you could certainly do worse. The film is delightful in any dimension. Just don’t expect to go out for fish and chips after the show unless you want your kids (or your conscience) to chant "Fish are friends, not food." (Also, after watching fish band together to save their lives, breaking the net of a fishing boat, you’ll never view Deadliest Catch the same way again).