Given the recent influx of disastrous 3D movies into theaters across America, it’s hard not to question Disney’s decision to re-release a handful of its most beloved classics in this often-gaudy format. But if you have the chance to actually see one of these nostalgic powerhouses unfold in three-dimensional glory, you can leave your skepticism at the door. By opening its mythic vault and reviving beloved classics, Disney has given us a rare opportunity to relive our childhoods by seeing some of our favorite films on the big screen.
Finding Nemo arrived in theaters nearly a decade ago, but it has already entered into that hallowed hall of Disney classics. The film, which centers around a widowed clown fish’s epic quest for his kidnapped son, introduced audiences across the world to some of Pixar’s most memorable characters. Can you imagine a world where Ellen DeGeneres’ Dory does not adorably forget everything, providing youngsters with a perfect way to annoy their parents by imitating her? The characters orchestrate a symphony of emotion on your heartstrings by balancing humor and poignancy. The film presents a journey of a father and son reaching for each other through millions of gallons of ocean.
Thankfully, Finding Nemo is as touching now as it was when my peers and I were members of the target audience. I contradict myself, however, because when it comes to Pixar the target audience includes kids from ages eight to 92. Disney is able to inject pop culture references such as “Here’s Brucey!” (Because Bruce the Great White Shark is the oceanic equivalent of The Shining’s Jack Torrance), or ‘Fish-Eaters Anonymous’ (an underwater variation on Alcoholics Anonymous), which kids certainly would not understand but which keep parents engaged.
Finding Nemo shows all the delights and pitfalls of parenting through the lens of a clown fish — a dad worried about his kid’s first day of school, telling him to brush his teeth and having to hear those dreaded words, ”I hate you,” at the end of a heated argument. It is all incredibly familiar. And if I had a nickel every time I heard somebody quote Finding Nemo, I could probably buy Australia.
The genius of Pixar lies in the marriage of creativity and technology. Its graphics are as stunning and as detailed-oriented as any fine art, but it all comes with jokes about “pretty big butts.” Converting into 3D seems a natural progression for the studio. The Great Barrier Reef was already a delight in two dimensions, but with the added 3D effects it is nothing short of a visual feast.
I do not need to convince you how amazing the movie is because you already know. Disney and Pixar Studios have given our generation a collective experience through endearing characters and uplifting, morally grounded plot lines. This re-release is simply a face lift for an old friend.
In the immortal words of Dory: “Just keep swimming!”