Finding Nemo: yet another rendition of the old story about the child who is almost killed because he disobeys his dad, and the dad who walked (or swam) away from the experience persuaded that it’s best not to give your kids rules in the first place. While its message that rebellious kids in the let’s-sing-songs-on-the-school-bus age bracket should be allowed to run their own lives is aimed less at children than at adults, Finding Nemo is still just one more movie where a cute story makes the disintegration of biblical family life look inspirational.
While Nemo’s hatred of his father is overcome by the end, his disrespect and disobedience are validated, not resolved.
Nemo demonstrates complete disrespect for his father, starting with eye rolling and working his way up to a declaration of hatred and public defiance. While his father, Marlin, is portrayed as irrationally over-cautious about Nemo, none of Marlin’s rules are actually wrong, meaning that Nemo’s deliberate disobedience is in no way morally justified. In the movie, however, even though Nemo’s attempt to prove his dad wrong resulted in exactly the kind of peril Marlin was trying to protect him from, Marlin is portrayed from beginning to end as being in the wrong1, and, more importantly, Nemo is portrayed as being entirely in the right.
Nemo’s respect for Marlin is finally restored in the end, but not by seeing how much his father loved him, or, better yet, realizing that his father was owed his respect whether he deserved it or not, but by seeing how cool it could be for his dad to do something heroic and get everyone else thinking well of him first. If Marlin had not been forced into extreme situations and instead had been able to prevent his son from being imperiled in the first place, Nemo would not have repented of his failure to honor his father... and we know this because he doesn’t repent even with all Marlin’s heroism.
Other fish reenforce Nemo’s disrespect by mocking Marlin themselves.
Marlin claims the moral responsibility for Nemo’s willful disobedience, and in the end tells Nemo he’s “so sorry”. Nemo offers no apology and gives absolutely no hint of remorse for his rebellion.
The movie strongly teaches that Nemo and all other children should be allowed freedom to make their own choices, even when personal safety is at stake. At core, the concept is not necessarily evil, but in Finding Nemo the only gauge for knowing when a child is ready for that level of independence is when the child thinks he’s ready, and Nemo is still obviously very young, and obviously not mature enough to restrain himself from foolish behavior even when he is under his father’s rule. On the other hand, too, Finding Nemo preaches that, while it’s not a parent’s responsibility to prevent their child from coming to harm, they, not the children, are required to save the day once the bad things have happened.
One of the main characters attributes her speed to evolution.
Slang and Vulgarities
“We’re going to make this tank so full of our own...” “Shhh.”
“Don’t you people realize we are swimming in our own...” “Shhh.”