“Toy Story” opened the door to a new kind of moviemaking by using computer-generated animation. Such film universes, created with pixels and high-profile celebrity voices, could become box-office hits.
What’s really amazing, though, is that Pixar, the studio that made “Toy Story,” actually dealt with humanity, even if in the guise of toys. From 1995, the year of “Toy Story’s” release, to today, Pixar has created stories that are both visually stunning and universally human. We are drawn into their characters’ plights and come away with a deeper understanding of ourselves.
The newest Pixar movie is “Finding Nemo,” the story of a lost clown fish and his father’s journey to find him. Set in the beautiful ocean around Australia, there are colors under the sea beyond imagination. But even more beautiful is the story.
Marlin, the father, is left with only one son—no wife or other children—after a barracuda attack early in the movie. Marlin thus becomes overly protective of his only child, Nemo.
However, Nemo rebels and swims out into the open water, where he is captured by a diver and eventually housed in a dentist’s aquarium.
The movie alternates between Nemo, stuck in the aquarium, and Marlin, who faces his fears to search for his son. Aiding Marlin is Dory, an absent-minded fish with a bad short-term memory. As the story flows, we meet lots of other undersea and outer-sea citizens, who enrich and enliven the drama.
Children will love this movie. My 6-year-old was enraptured by it, and my 12-year-old was not bored in the least.
Parents, however—and fathers specifically—should truly enjoy this movie. In this movie, the father is the hero, and he is not shown being anything other than a parent who loves his son. He may love too much and hold on too tightly, but that is the nature of a parent. Parents just have to learn to loosen their grip sometimes.
Pixar will be seen, in years to come, as the studio that best modeled the family in our postmodern world. It understands family like many studios do not. Family decay gets no play here. What we see is the family unit being stressed by the reality of life.
And in the end, the bond of love between parent and child is held as a thing of beauty, more beautiful than even the sea.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.
MPAA Rating: G
Director: Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds
Voices: Marlin: Albert Brooks; Dory: Ellen DeGeneres; Gil: Willem Dafoe; Nigel: Geoffrey Rush; Nemo: Alexander Gould; Bruce: Barry Humphreys.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.