Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich. USA. 2003.
Review by Jen Johnston
Don't Flush Your Fish Campaign

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I thought so. How many of you out there with kids have realized that it’s absolutely unavoidable?

Every minute I spend with my daughter I see more of myself oozing out of her little mind. In everything from her mannerisms, to the dirty looks she shoots when things don’t go her way I can see shades of my mother and I. At some point, (I would assume) I’ll morph into the hideous embarrassment that all parents become, so I’m attempting to implant the movie watching skills early on in life. My angel has told off the troll in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, (screaming “YOU’RE NOT BEING VERY NICE!!” at the top of her lungs at the beast while it tried to capture Hermione.)  She’s “Woo-Hooed” her way through Star Wars: Episodes I and II.  She’s even waited patiently in a premiere line with hordes of animated (pardon the pun) rugrats for Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, chatting away with the children around her about how she’d seen all the “tree-views” and thought “Mr. Pitt would try his best to be a toon.” (Which is exactly what some of my male friends have argued is the only possible explanation for Brad’s looks.) 

As a parent though, I am all too aware of how INCREDIBLY difficult it is to find a movie that strikes that delicate balance of being entertaining to adults, while keeping a little one’s attention for 90 minutes. And, I think, Pixar has the market cornered. Toy Story 1 and 2 were wonderful. I was sorely disappointed when Monsters Inc. didn’t win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. (The short For the Birds alone should have secured that statuette.) My angel and I were really excited when the trailers for Finding Nemo started creeping onto DVD’s. When we headed out to the premiere she had an energy output that would have resulted from a solid diet of chocolate covered coffee beans. 

We got our treats, waited in line, and when the doors opened my angel took off yelling “YAAAAAAAAY! ‘EMO! ‘EMO!” at the top of her lungs. She sat rock still for the whole movie, (and considering the amount of jumping up and down we did before hand in line I’m not surprised. Bouncing steadily for 45 minutes can tire a body out. Thank God the seats at the Empire are comfortable.)  90 minutes later we left, having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. With a few caveats….

Finding Nemo is the story of Marlin; a clown-fish who is timid, devoted, and extremely over-protective of his only son, Nemo. When Nemo is taken from his idyllic home on an Australian coral reef, Marlin must search the ocean to find him.

Finding Nemo.
                    All Rights Reserved.Albert Brooks (Mother, Defending Your Life) is the perfectly cast voice of Marlin. Brooks is not only a skilled dramatic actor, but he’s also a TREMENDOUS comedian, able to sarcastically self deprecate without coming off as whiny. (Woody Allen should be so gifted.) Brook’s Marlin has an enormous amount of depth. In a touch that has been missing from so many recent films, the writer’s have actually spent some time developing the history and character of the little fish. Brooks’ then infuses Marlin with heart, humour, and range keeping the adults, and older kids engaged, while Pixar’s masterful animators use enough beauty, movement, and adorable sea life to capture younger children’s attention.

Ellen DeGeneres (Ellen) is absolutely remarkable as Marlin’s absent minded companion, Dory. I have long suspected that DeGeneres has a hysterical core lurking beneath her somewhat average comedic surface, and Dory is proof positive. As the voice of the goofy Pollyanna of the film, DeGeneres is at her comedic high point. It’s almost as though with the restrictions of actually appearing on screen lifted, she has found the power to push herself past her stiff persona, and had more fun then she has been able to enjoy in her previous career incarnations. DeGeneres also shows off an unexpected dramatic capability in the final act of the movie which moved me tremendously. As it did my little movie critic companion. When Dory loses Marlin at one point in the film, my angel whispered to me, “Mommy, why that blue fish so very sad?”  DeGeneres should be applauded for her phenomenal turn here; at once touching, and absolutely hilarious. (I will be talking about Dory’s ability to speak whale until the day I retire.)

Earlier in this review I mentioned a few things about Finding Nemo that would have given me pause about going, had I known pre-show. For the parents of small children in the reading world:


Finding Nemo.
                    All Rights Reserved.In the first few minutes of the film a very happy Marlin not only experiences the death of his wife, but the death of all (save Nemo) of his kids. This led to an intense theological discussion on the drive home that I would really rather have avoided.

The theme of family always being ready to drop everything to rush to help is a great one. The plot point of feeling safe, then having a scary stranger 100,000 times your size swooping in to take you away when you least expect it, could cause some problems amongst younger Pixar aficionados.

Bruce the Shark. The scenes of Dory and Marlin being chased by Bruce are QUITE intense. However, they don’t last very long. 

All in all, I think Finding Nemo is an excellent addition to the Pixar library of hits. My angel’s verdict was that “’EMO was her FAVOURITE.” As for me….

Like Toy Story and Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo is filled with great characters, has an exciting story line, is able to entertain both children and grown up types, (or even less mature grown up types like me), is sumptuous to watch, and, like all Pixar movies, is over too fast. Thank goodness I live in a house where Pixar flicks are played overandoverandoverandoverandover…. I highly recommend this one. 

Jen Johnston


Actor Alexander Gould helps conservation organisations launch new report and initiative to protect coral reefs

Cambridge, UK, 30 September 2003 - After hundreds of children 'liberated' their pet fish down the toilet, following the launch of Finding Nemo in the United States, two environmental organisations are keen to avert a similar catastrophe when the animated blockbuster opens in the UK on 3 October 2003.

Finding Nemo tells the story of a Clown fish who becomes separated from his dad in the Great Barrier Reef, and ends up in a dentist's office.  One scene shows Nemo return to the sea via a spit basin. After its launch in the US fish traders and plumbing companies received numerous calls from worried parents who found their children had tried to liberate their fish after watching the film.

Many US retailers reported increases in sales for example: 'This is the most active summer we've had in marine aquariums," says Rick Preuss, owner of Preuss Animal House. This Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) Certified retail store in Lansing, Michigan typically experiences a lull in the summer. But this year-after the release of Finding Nemo they've seen a surge of about 20 percent in the demand for marine aquarium tanks. "Shoppers come in saying 'Hey, there's Nemo. Hey, there's Dory," notes Steve Oberg, Preuss's fish room manager.

"Finding Nemo is a very engaging film, and parents who already have aquariums need to explain to their children that the fish will not survive if they are flushed," says Paul Holthus, president of the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC), a non-profit marine conservation group based in Hawaii. "We also urge parents whose children are inspired by the film to start a saltwater tank, to think carefully before buying tropical marine fish for their children."

Nine-year-old Alexander Gould, who is the voice of Nemo, is concerned about the safety of the fish and wants to encourage the public to buy fish from responsible aquarists. He said: " It is okay to keep some types of fish if you know how to look after them. The Marine Aquarium Council makes sure aquarium fish are captured in a kind manner.  It does this to protect the coral reefs, because if the coral is gone, the fish will be gone.  The whole world depends on coral and fish, and they depend on each other."

To coincide with the premier, the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, (UNEP-WCMC) in Cambridge, is launching a groundbreaking report, From Ocean to Aquarium: The Global Trade In Marine Ornamentals, which for the first time uses industry data to highlight the most threatened tropical species and makes suggestions and recommendations on their future protection.  It says that in year 2000, 1kg of aquarium fish from the Maldives was valued at almost US$500, whereas 1kg of reef fish harvested for food was worth only US$6.  Similarly, live coral trade is worth about US$7,000 per tonne whereas harvested coral for the production of limestone yields only about US$60 per tonne.

Data for the new report has largely come from the Global Marine Aquarium Database, a joint collaborative effort between UNEP-WCMC, the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) and members of various aquarium trade associations.

Copies of the report are available from the UNEP web site at: 
or at:

From Ocean to Aquarium is accessible online at

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