A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Back to the Sea may amuse younger children with adequate but uninspired animation but also may frighten them with mild threats to the safety of fish who are the main characters in this story. The plot shares elements with Finding Nemo, a far better written and animated feature that also focuses on parent-child relationships. Older children may notice the inferior quality and lose interest in dialogue and action that falls far below the Disney/Pixar/DreamWorks-like quality seen in much animation today.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Kevin (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) is an athletic young flying fish who loves to bat seaweed balls at targets along the New York pier and yearns to compete in the legendary Seaweed Bowl in Barbados. Friends admire Kevin. His father, an authoritarian leader known as King of New York Harbor, does not share this admiration. He openly admonishes the lad for not exhibiting sufficient responsibility and gravitas to one day take on the family mantle and possession of the family heirloom, a giant pearl. As in Finding Nemo, Kevin is separated from his father, swept up in a net. Deposited in the tank of the best Chinese restaurant in New York, he realizes that he and fellow inhabitants of the tank are fated to end up on a plate. The pearl goes missing, too, and a hapless thief (Christian Slater) traces it to the tank. Kevin displays leadership qualities, protecting the other fish in the tank, opening up to fellow fish Ben (Tom Kenny), and befriending the Chinese chef's young son, Shabao (Kath Soucie), who also is having father problems; he'd rather be an explorer than cook Chinese delicacies.
Is it any good?
Many elements of the story do not follow logically. Kevin's father gives great significance to a large violet pearl, and although we can understand why human thieves would seek to cash in on its monetary value, we are never told why it's valuable to the fish. Shabao's dad, the Chinese restaurant owner, is suddenly challenged by the rival Cook Liu from Hong Kong, who announces he intends to open a restaurant, too. Cook Liu is determined to take the title of New York's "best" by way of forcing Shabao, who would rather be an explorer than a cook, to compete in a cooking contest against the Hong Kong chef's culinarily gifted son. Huh? Why would they agree to that? How would that determine that a restaurant that isn't even open yet is "the best"? False premises like this abound; the basic story structure is weak, the humor is flat, and the animation is uninspired.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how a human might communicate with a fish. Does the movie want you to believe such a thing is possible?
Do you think that a child can teach a parent something? If so, what kinds of things?
Do you think fish could really save a boy from downing? Why, or why not?