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Finding Nemo: What Christian Reviewers Are Saying

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • Updated Sep 17, 2012
Finding Nemo: What Christian Reviewers Are Saying

from Film Forum, 05/29/03

That's the question that drives Finding Nemo, the new feast of innovative animation from Pixar Studios. But viewers will walk away asking another question: Are the folks at Pixar the most creative filmmakers for both adults and children working today?

Film Forum will feature an in-depth review of the film next week and link to reviews from several religious press film critics. For now, let me assure you that I think Finding Nemo is not just the best family film of the year so far, but it is one of the most astonishing achievements in animation ever made. Visually, it sets a new standard, and at this point, no other studio can match it. In a season of highly hyped and much anticipated sequels, both good (X2) and disappointing (Matrix Reloaded), Nemo packs so much action, so much awe-inspiring visual splendor, and so many big laughs into its hour-and-a-half span, that you'll probably want to get back in line and see it again the next day.

The distinct talent of Pixar's artists is that while they achieve remarkable realism in some aspects of their design, realism is not their highest priority. They instead focus on making every frame of their film such an exquisite work of art that any particular cel would be suitable for framing. And once again, they've found perfect voice matches for their characters, especially in the selection of Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres.

If writer/director Andrew Stanton can be faulted at all, it is for packing too many adrenalin rushes into the film. The crisis-every-minute narrative hurts the pacing so much that the big finale feels like just another big obstacle to overcome. You'll find yourself reaching for the remote control so you can slow things down and drift through these gorgeous underwater environments.

So buckle up. The storytellers also take on heavier issues than they have in their previous releases. Nemo is a surprisingly emotional film. It may prod a lump into the throats of the even the most stubborn viewers. The timing of the film's arrival is perfect—when Father's Day comes around, a second viewing will be the ideal family outing.

Parents, please note: While this is a movie for all-ages, there are some surprisingly scary moments as the little heroes bump into some particularly monstrous sea beasties.

Next week, Film Forum will focus on the story and its admirable themes in addition to the responses of other religious press critics. In the meantime, check out the responses of

mainstream film critics.

from Film Forum, 06/05/03

Finding Nemo, the new progeny from the powerful marriage of Disney and Pixar, earned more than $70 million on its opening weekend, outperforming any other animated movie in history—including Disney/Pixar's own Toy Story films, A Bug's Life, and Monsters, Inc.

The good news is that Finding Nemo is not just a box office hit: it's a fantastic movie. Most critics agree that this is the studio's most impressive visual feat to date. And while Pixar fans will argue about which of the studio's stories they like best (I'm partial to Toy Story 2), no one can deny the powerful emotions the plot is stirring in viewers both young and old. The storytellers at Pixar have their roots in the best storytelling of the Disney tradition. There are echoes of Bambi, Pinocchio, Dumbo, and even The Rescuers.

After the movie, parents and children alike may find themselves pondering some unexpected issues. Nemo is full of situations that, although portrayed underwater, resonate with lessons for our daily lives above sea level. The film explores obedience, freedom, loss, healing, patience, and compassion. There are the beginnings of a remarkable love story forming by the end. And although the film is not heavy-handed about it, there is just enough tongue-in-cheek talk about fish being "friends—not food" that questions about vegetarians might come up at the dinner table.

The image that startled me above all came early in the film. We see Marlin, the proud father, assuring his son that everything will be all right while Nemo is still in an embryonic state, curled and quivering in his translucent egg. It's a beautiful image. It is also underlines the idea that life is beautiful and significant even before a baby "hatches" into the world.

Religious press critics are all raving about the film.

David DiCerto (

Catholic News Service) calls it "an enchanting fable about courage, self-sacrifice and the power of love to overcome insurmountable odds."

Michael Elliott (

Movie Parables) agrees, saying that Nemo leaves Pixar's previous works "in its wake. Pixar excels in developing multidimensional characters and relationships that they use to drive their story forward and provide depth and substance to their imaginative tale. Every character, no matter how briefly they appear, has a reason for being there."

Holly McClure (

Crosswalk) writes, "Not only are the underwater scenes brilliant and fascinating, but the adventures on dry land prove to be challenging and intense as well."

Ted Baehr (

Movieguide) says the movie "captures your heart, your mind and your soul and will hold viewers breathless until the fantastic 'fin-ish.'" He says the script "should become required reading for any hopeful scriptwriters. The story and characters are also filled with lots of family-friendly humor. Best of all, the movie is full of great moral values. It … could cause the most hard-hearted father to lighten up and cry."

Steven Isaac (

Focus on the Family) says he's seen what "may well be the most lavish animation seen to date on the big screen. There's very little wrong with Finding Nemo, and there's lots to learn from and enjoy."

Mike Parnell (

Ethics Daily) raves, "Children will love this movie. My 6-year-old was enraptured by it, and my 12-year-old was not bored in the least. Parents, however—and fathers specifically—should truly enjoy this movie."

Mainstream press critics know a good thing when they see it. They are celebrating Nemo as one of the finest films released so far this year. You can scan archives of their reviews in two formats at

Rotten Tomatoes and


from Film Forum, 06/19/03

Elsewhere, Christian critics are continuing to celebrate the virtues of Pixar's latest box-office champion Finding Nemo.David Bruce (

Hollywood Jesus) praises Nemo, saying, "It is a powerful story of the sacrificial love of a mother, and determination of a caring father. It is the story of being lost, and then found. It is a story that can help you understand God and his love for you."

And Josh Hurst (

The Rebel Base) refuses to apologize for his rave review of a family film. "This review might be nauseatingly positive, but I can't help it. Finding Nemo dazzles, entertains, and stuns. It also addresses some surprisingly heavy issues, at least for a family movie. If there's one thing that this movie proves, it's that the Pixar folks are untouchable. Nobody makes consistently excellent movies like them."