Continuing our series this month, we’re looking at another children’s—well, another animated film that deals with this idea of leaving the ninety-nine to find one. However, this film deals with it in a slightly different angle. Today’s film, which is still one of Pixar Animation Studios’ most celebrated stories, is about a father searching all over the world—well, all over the ocean, to find his lost son. And I’ve wanted to write about it for a while. Ladies and gentlemen, “Finding Nemo.”
In the film, a clownfish named Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) loses his wife and many unborn children in an attack by a swordfish. Only one egg is saved, albeit damaged. This fish grows up to be Nemo (Alexander Gould), born with his left fin too small but his imagination still huge. As he heads off to his first day of school, his father, still emotionally scarred, acts very protective of Nemo, thinking that he will hurt himself at the slightest action. When Nemo goes off with some friends to a drop-off and Marlin scolds him, the tension between the two characters is fully present. And in rebellion, Nemo swims up to a nearby boat and touches it, much to Marlin’s anger.
But suddenly, Nemo is captured by a scuba diver and taken to land, where he is trapped in a fish tank at a dentist’s office, awaiting an imminent demise by shaking from the dentist’s clumsy daughter. So without hesitation, Marlin sets off to rescue his son, though he is nowhere near prepared for what is ahead of him. Luckily, though, coming soon to his rescue is Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a blue regal tang fish (I think) who deals with short-term memory loss. The two fish are a very unlikely couple, but both soon set off to find Nemo.
Along the way, there are, of course, obstacles. The two of them meet up with sharks who declare at a, uh… Sharks Anonymous meeting that they shall not eat fish, and then one shark is tempted to eat the two fish. Marlin and Dory find themselves in a dark part of the ocean until a bigger fish lights up and tries to eat them. They try to make it through an area filled with jellyfish and get very hurt in the process, until turtles pick them up and carry them along the East Australian Current. Once delivered, the two are swallowed by a whale, then spat up to Sydney, where Nemo is.
Meanwhile, at the dentist’s office, Nemo is unsure of what is going to happen to him. Another fish there, Gill (Willem Dafoe), declares them their leader to escape into the ocean, but Nemo is almost killed in the process. The dentist’s daughter’s arrival gets closer day by day. And every idea that the other fish have of getting out of the tank is foiled. However, when word gets around the ocean (I’m sure word travels fast there…) that Marlin is looking for Nemo, a seagull named Nigel (Geoffrey Rush) lets Nemo know and tries to help Marlin and Dory find him.
But when Marlin believes Nemo to be dead (if you want all the details, just watch the movie), he abandons lonely Dory and tries to go back to his life back home. But after Nemo finally escapes into the ocean, and the three fish find themselves about to be captured by fishermen, they escape the net and finally make amends, as Marlin discovers how to truly love his son.
I guess “Finding Nemo” is more about a parent being overprotective than it is about a parent crossing the world to find their son. Nemo isn’t exactly a “prodigal son”, and Marlin is the one who does the searching while Nemo is trapped. But I still think there’s something to be said about a father loving his son so much that he would go through the whole world to find him again.
And praise the Lord that this Father we have in Heaven is willing to do that for us! Many of us probably say in our testimony, “I found Christ when…” I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before. But the truth is, I’m trapped in sin. It was God who found me when I was bound in sin and rescued me from that life. And because of that one soul that found Him, all of Heaven rejoiced, as Jesus says in Luke 15. I pray that you and I would continue to be reminded in these next few weeks of God’s love for us, that He would cross through our whole world, even send His son to die for our sins, in order to show that He loves us.