Released in 2002, Finding Nemo was an instant hit for Pixar. Even if you didn’t see it in theaters, you were undoubtedly made aware of its existence from 1. the countless articles in dive magazines that cheesily played on the name of the movie, and 2. the uproar when anemonefish became overly popular aquarium fish. Finding Nemo is back in theaters, but there aren’t deleted scenes or new characters. Instead, Nemo and Marlin and Gill are coming at you in 3D.
A dive-magazine editor in 2002, I saw Finding Nemo in a Singapore theater. It was a good movie that resonated with me as a diver, but the theater full of children enjoyed it for entirely different reasons: It was an introduction to the underwater world — to the wild colors and cool marine life we as scuba divers encounter every time we take the plunge.
In 2002 I didn’t have children, so I didn’t feel as if I got the whole experience. I have two girls now, ages 6 and 4, and so I recently brought them to see Finding Nemo 3D to gauge how the movie has changed in my eyes, and see it for the first time in theirs.
The (non-spoiler) plot in 50 words: A small anemonefish (Nemo) swims off the Drop-off and is captured by a scuba diver. The father, Marlin, on a quest to find his son, meets a cast of characters including a blue tang with short-term memory loss (Dory), a trio of non-fish-eating sharks, and some precocious turtles.
So what is Nemo like 10 years later? For starters, it hasn’t aged a day (and this isn’t meant as pun): The artists and designers who originally created Nemo’s underwater world did a remarkable job, and visually it stands the test of time. The jellyfish are ethereal, the coral reef colorful, and the fish as active as you’ve seen them on any reef. Here’s the rub, though: While the 3D effects add a bit more oomph to the fantasy, the fantasy was good to begin with. I loved Finding Nemo the first time; I didn’t really need the 3D.
Just don’t tell that to my daughters, who were mesmerized by the unfolding drama onscreen. We own Finding Nemo on DVD and they’ve seen it a number of times. But on a big screen and with 3D glasses, they thought it was the next best thing to being underwater. My 6-year-old recited the lines along with Crush as we whooshed along the EAC, and my 4-year-old sat motionless through the entire film (no small feat) — and loved the snapping 3D teeth of Bruce the great white shark. After the movie we went home and flipped through dive magazines and glamorous coffee-table books, marveling at sharks and manta rays, turtles and anemonefish.
My children could identify 90% of the marine life featured in a dive magazine before watching the movie, so they’re not any smarter for having seen it. There is something to taking in beautiful colors and underwater scenes on a big screen though — even if those underwater scenes are digitally created — and Finding Nemo 3D did get them more invested to join in my upcoming adventures. And while they’ll have to wait for our snorkeling trip in Hawaii and a Kids Sea Camp in 2013, at least now they have a bigger (and 3D) appreciation of Nemo to keep them company.
Finding Nemo 3D is now playing in theaters worldwide. See it with your kids this weekend.