Length: 100 min.
Age: 4+ (but not an overly timid 4!) Commonsense Media sez: 5 +
Scary factor: Marlin’s wife disappears in opening scene, the (offscreen) victim of a barracuda; throughout: much peril, many close escapes, but the pace is good, nothing lasts for very long so you should be able to sail right through. In the fish tank Nemo has the threat of a ‘fish-killer’ little girl hanging over him, and takes part in escape plans in which he risks being sucked into the filtration system rotating blades. No real violence or gore. (Dory is accidentally smacked in the nose once and a little blood drips out, that’s it.)
Most scary: a huge shark chases Marlin and Dory, chase ends with underwater mines exploding (The shark scene occurs right after Marlin meets Dory, if you want to skip it.)
Next most scary: a creepy anglerfish chases them: see picture at the end of this review. Anglerfish scene occurs after they chase the sinking swim mask into the darkest deep, if you want to skip it. Be sure, though, to watch to the very end of the credits, when the anglerfish gets his comeuppance.
Intense scenes: my daughter was bugged by the jellyfish scene. The jellyfish are rather passive, they don’t even seem sentient, but it is really creepy how they float in and surround the fish. Big suspense. Another one which bothered her was the scene inside the whale, when Marlin loses all hope. There isn’t anything overtly scary, but the intense emotions troubled her a little.
Interests: sea creatures, fish, boats, the ocean, fish tanks, dentistry (just kidding)
Next: a museum of natural history visit, or a visit to the zoo or aquarium; documentary movies about amazing sea creatures, movie: Ponyo
A clownfish who is basically afraid of everything in the ocean (he loses his wife to a barracuda in the opening scene), is overprotective of his only son Nemo. When they have an argument and Nemo swims off, he is captured by divers. His father Marlin (Albert Brooks) sets off bravely to rescue his son. He finds an unlikely ally in a fish named Dory (Ellen Degeneres) with serious short-term memory problems. Meanwhile Nemo lands in a dentist office aquarium, but his new friends there are bent on escape.
Another intelligent and ridiculously entertaining film from the good people at Pixar. There’s a lesson for Marlin/parents, about letting your children have adventures and not being overprotective, and another about accepting help from others. There’s a lesson for Nemo/children about facing danger, and about how much their parents love them and what they would go through to protect them. Also a sidebar element – Nemo has a small, deformed fin. Both he and Marlin have to learn and accept that this is not a handicap, Nemo is perfectly capable of doing everything his peers do.
Basically, this is an adventure story, so adventure is there. Perilous situations abound as Marlin and Dory make their way toward Sydney. In fact they are in constant peril, but humour is always present as they make their many escapes. Lots of thrills, but it moves right along and the threatening predators come and go – they aren’t sustaining, plotting villains like in other stories. Not for the very young or very frightened, but once children hit the age of 4 or 5 they will surely be charmed by all the strange creatures, the winning characterizations, the incredibly smart and funny dialogue. My daughter (4) loved it so much she could quote lines of dialogue and we’d play the “who said it” game.
Best of all, this is highly, highly entertaining for all ages. The humour is sophisticated yet inclusive, that is to say, children won’t be lost if they don’t understand the jokes. The only scene requiring the ‘pause’ button and a little explanation may be the sharks in their AA-style meeting, intent on giving up their ‘addiction’ to eating fish.
Many, many different species of sea creatures are represented here – from manta rays to sea turtles to pelicans – and enough factual tidbits fly by that your child will actually learn a thing or two. (Ie.: clownfish can live and hide inside stinging anemone because they become immune to them.) You can follow up with visits to museums, zoos or aquariums and your child will be excited to recognize characters from the movie. (“There’s Dory! There’s Dory!” my daughter shouts, jumping up and down in front of a fish tank at the museum.) This is also the perfect jumping-off point to dive into documentary films too, like the many Imax ocean flicks… though personally I think going to an actual Imax theatre would totally freak a preschooler out. Better to watch them on DVD.
One last thing: the escape plans of the aquarium fish may stick with your child – they may become crusaders against keeping fish cooped up in tanks. (This doesn’t seem to have occurred to my daughter, but I could see it happening to school-age kids.)