Finding Nemo Re-Issue Another “Splash” Hit

Courtesy: Disney/Pixar

Finding Nemo does so much right.  It all starts with the story itself.  What makes the story so enjoyable is its reflection of life.  The story is relatable to both parents and children.  That’s because it’s a story about family, and about loss.  The death of a parent/spouse–as dark as it may be–is part of what makes the story so relatable.  Some people complained about the movie’s early scene in which Marlin’s wife is killed.  But in the grand scheme of things, it was necessary.  It was a dual purpose scene.  It reminds audiences that–as dark as some want to argue it was–sometimes tragedies happen.  And as a result of those tragedies, the effect on surviving family members can vary in intensity.  In the case of Finding Nemo, the effect on Marlin (Nemo’s Dad), was that it made him overly protective of Nemo.  He even became scared of living life, period.  Marlin was so broken from having lost his wife and the rest of the babies, that he smothered Nemo.  That coddling played a direct role in the father-son dynamic set up throughout the story.

The father-son dynamic is another factor that makes Finding Nemo relatable to audiences.  Marlin is like any other parent.  He wants to hold on to his child as long as possible.  What sets him apart from other parents–and makes him relatable at the same time–is the tragic loss of his wife.  It makes him want to hold on to his son even more so than most parents would.  That’s what leads Nemo to start breaking away from his dad.  That coming-of-age story is seamlessly interwoven into the overall plot.  Again, it’s a story that both parents and children alike can relate to.  After all, every parent was once a child.  And every child reaches the “breakaway” point at one time or another; some earlier than others.  Nemo was one child who reached it earlier than others.  That goes back to the family tragedy at the beginning of the story.  The result of the child reaching the “breakaway” point is that sometimes, things are said and done that aren’t meant on both sides.  Despite that, family is family.  And a parent is still going to love a child regardless of who said what.  That love will lead a parent to do anything in order to protect his/her child.  Marlin does just that, swimming across the ocean to find his son.

Marlin’s journey across the ocean leads to another key story item.  The introduction of Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres) is an illustration of a person’s need for a “social net”, especially in the case of a family tragedy.  Dory plays a dual role.  One role is the voice of reason.  As “light-headed” as she may be, there are moments in which she manages to talk some sense into Marlin.  Along with talking sense into him, Dory also helps Marlin lighten up when he gets really stressed out.  She doesn’t even have to try.  It’s that same “light-headedness” that leads Marlin to do so.  What’s ultimately happening here is that the writers are reminding audiences that as bad as things can get, it’s still okay to laugh.  In fact, as bad as things can get, we all need to laugh.  She even reminds Marlin—or rather the audiences–that a parent has to eventually let a child go, and grow up.  It’s just more proof of everything that Finding Nemo does right.

One more thing that Finding Nemo gets right is something very subtle.  The story starts off very dark, both subject-wise, and color wise.  After that, the general colors used throughout the story are very bright.  It could be argued that as hopeless as Marlin wanted to be, he still had fight and hope.  And the use of the brighter colors helped emphasize that mood.  Just as near the end, audiences see the color darken at a key moment, only to brighten back up as the scene in question progresses.  That could be grasping at straws in interpretation.  But it does seem that there’s a direct link between the colors and the mood of the story from one scene to the next.  It’s just one more element of the whole thing that makes Finding Nemo so enjoyable.

Finding Nemo easily made a splash (pun fully intended) in theaters. And now on the upcoming DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, it’s just as much of a hit, if not more. Almost everything that could have been done right for the new presentation was done right, too.  The new re-issue has carried over a couple of the bonus features from the original DVD release.  But there are also many new features in this new release. The director’s commentary from the previous DVD release has been carried over.  But it’s been changed.  This time the commentary is presented in what has been called “CinExplore.”  That is the director commentary mixed with storyboard illustration placed into the movie at the same time.  This is a time saver in that it keeps viewers from having to go back to the special features to look through the movie’s original storyboard art.  Rather, it’s right there to view as audiences listen to the movie’s updated commentary.

In relation to its commentary, the new BD/DVD re-issue of Finding Nemo offers another related commentary that future script writers will appreciate.  Writer/Director Andrew Stanton discusses the use of flashbacks and his training on the use of them in “A Lesson in Flashbacks.”  On one hand, it’s a glorified deleted scenes feature.  But at the same time, it really is a lesson of sorts in which he explains how and why he was taught to use flashbacks as little as possible.  In relation to the flashbacks that never made it to screen in Finding Nemo, his lesson makes sense.  And why the flashbacks in question were never used makes just as much sense, too.

Also new to this re-issue is a feature focusing on Disney’s classic submarine ride and how it has been updated to fit Finding Nemo.  Audiences get a history lesson on the ride from its roots to where it is today.  Viewers get to see all the work that went into revamping the ride to make it current for today’s Disney theme park guests.  This is interesting for anyone who has any interest in special effects and computer graphics work.  It’s pretty interesting learning that the people behind the ride would do something as simple as using crushed colored glass to help accentuate the coral for riders.  It’s just one part of the near twenty-minute bonus that audiences will find an interesting update in itself and on this new re-issue.

Finding Nemo made big a huge “splash” in theaters when it was originally released in 2003.  Now nearly a decade after its original debut, it still has just as much relevance and importance to audiences as it did then.  Keeping that in mind, it’s good to see this modern classic back in stores and nearly fully updated for a whole new audience to enjoy.  The new Finding Nemo BD/DVD combo will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, December 4th.  It can be ordered direct via Disney’s online store at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/finding-nemo.html.

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Pullman and Cusack are so right for Mr. Wrong

Courtesy: Touchstone Pictures/Mill Creek Entertainment

Mr. Wrong is like What About Bob? on acid.  It starts off with a slow boil.  But once it gets moving, it really gets moving.  Forget the fact that everybody already knows about Ellen’s background.  The fact of the matter is that this work is so twisted that one can’t help but laugh at it.  Even more ironic is that DeGeneres’ Martha really isn’t the star of the movie, although she is the lead.  Co-star Bill Pullman and Joan Cusack as Whitman Crawford and his ex, Inga Gunther make for the majority of the movie’s laughs.  Sitcoms have used the insane admirer and crazed ex plots many times over both before and after this movie.  Sometimes by themselves and sometimes together.  So those audiences who would want to lambast this movie for its outrageousness would be well served to lambast those sitcoms, too.

What sets Mr. Wrong apart from the sitcoms that have used the noted plots is just how over the top Whitman and Inga are.  That Whitman would go so far as to use the children of his mother’s housekeep to kidnap Martha and take her to Mexico is so bizarre that one can’t help but laugh at how outrageous it is.  And Inga’s threats again Martha are just as worth the laughs.  Fans will find themselves laughing uncontrollably as Inga tells Bob to put gum in Martha’s hair early on.  And of course there’s the even funnier bit about putting honey and ants on martha’s face.  The ants themselves are the kicker of that joke.

Mr. Wrong may not be one of the more memorable movies of the 90’s.  But take a moment to consider the number of rom-coms that have been copied and re-copied time and again.  Now considering those now far too stale works, they actually make Mr. Wrong worth at least one watch.

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