Finding Nemo

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Finding Nemo Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Sweet father-son tale has some very scary moments.
  • G
  • 2003
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 137 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 299 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Though not intended as an educational movie, kids will pick up facts about sea creatures and perhaps an interest in learning more about the ocean.

Positive Messages

Diverse characters get along well, and a disabled character is brave and capable. A father searches tirelessly for his son and learns a lesson in letting go and letting him grow up. Major themes include compassion, gratitude, perseverance, and courage.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nemo's dad is protective (sometimes overly), loving, and determined when it comes to finding his son. He makes mistakes, but he learns from them. Nemo is brave (and sometimes defiant) and learns lessons about working together. He doesn't let his disability slow him down.

Violence & Scariness

Scary creatures with lots of very sharp teeth, the apparent death of a major character, and many tense scenes with characters in peril.

Sexy Stuff

In the short film Knick Knack, which appears on some DVDs, the female characters have exaggerated breasts.


Though there aren't any real brands used in the movie itself, this is part of the Disney-Pixar dynasty, with plenty of merchandise associated with the film.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The sharks attend a 12-step-type of meeting to get them to stop eating fish, but only adults will get the reference.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that even though there are no traditional bad guys in Finding Nemo, there are still some very scary moments, including large creatures with zillions of sharp teeth, the apparent death of a major character, and many tense scenes with characters in peril. And at the very beginning of the movie, Marlin's wife and all but one of their eggs are eaten by a predator -- a scene that could very well upset little kids. Expect a little potty humor amid the movie's messages of teamwork, determination, loyalty, and a father's never-ending love for his son. The issue of Nemo's stunted fin is handled exceptionally well -- matter-of-factly but frankly.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybobtedeschi April 9, 2008

My 4-year old was traumatized

Immediately beneath the "Adult Reviews" box for Finding Nemo is the quote "recommended for: Ages 2 and up." I either didn't see the... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 and 12-year-old Written byResponibleParentOf2 September 14, 2012

Sharks are too scary for kids below high school age.

See top. Also, ResponsablePArentOf6, I'm flattered, but no, I'm already happily married. I do love your parenting skills though. However, I'm sli... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 25, 2011

Just Keep Swimming!

I remember watching this movie when I was little. I always liked it, and I still do. It's a great and fun movie with some positive role models: Marlin is a... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byolympicmascots May 29, 2016

Good educational moive

Finding Nemo is a really good movie. It can teach children how aquatic animals interact with each other and what they look like. There is one scary scene that i... Continue reading

What's the story?

In FINDING NEMO, clown fish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is a fond but nervous dad -- understandably so, since a predator ate his wife and all but one of their eggs. When it's time for Marlin's surviving son, Nemo (Alexander Gould) -- who has an underdeveloped fin -- to start school, the little guy is excited, but Marlin is terrified. Marlin has done a good job of making Nemo feel confident and unselfconscious, but he's still overprotective, which makes Nemo anxious to prove that he can take care of himself. But Marlin's worst fears are realized when Nemo is captured by a deep-sea-diving dentist who collects fish for his aquarium. On a journey that will introduce him to extraordinary characters and teach him a great deal about the world and even more about himself, Marlin must go literally to the end of the ocean to find his son and bring him home. On the way he meets Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a cheerful blue tang who has a problem with short-term memory loss. They search for Nemo together in the face of stinging jellyfish, exploding mines, and creatures with many, many, teeth. Meanwhile, Nemo makes some very good friends in the dentist's aquarium, including a tough tiger fish (Willem Dafoe) who helps him plan an escape. The 2012 DVD release includes the short film Knick Knack.

Is it any good?

Pixar may have the most advanced animation technology in the world, but they never forget that what matters most in a movie is story, characters, imagination, and heart. Finding Nemo has it all. Yes, it's a visual feast (the play of light on the water is breathtaking), but above all it's an epic journey filled with adventure and discovery that encompasses the grandest sweep of ocean vastness and the smallest longing of the heart. While preserving the characters' essential "fishy-ness," Pixar and the talented voice actors have also made them each wonderfully expressive.

While there are certainly some terrifying-looking creatures and scary moments in Finding Nemo -- including the off-screen death of Marlin's wife and future children -- there really are no bad guys here; the danger comes from a child's thoughtlessness and from natural perils. And there are no angry, jealous, greedy, or murderous villains as in most traditional Disney animated films. (One of the movie's best jokes is that even the toothy sharks are so friendly that, in an AA-style program, they keep reminding one another that "fish are friends, not food.") Another strength of the movie is the way it handles Nemo's disability. But best of all is the way it addresses questions that are at the heart of the parent-child relationship, giving everyone in the audience something to relate to and learn from.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how parents have to balance their wish to protect their children from being hurt (physically or emotionally) with the need to let them grow up and learn how to take care of themselves, like Marlin has to in Finding Nemo. Kids: How do your parents handle this?

  • Talk about Nemo's disability and about how everyone has different abilities. How do you know what your abilities are, and what do you do to make the most of them?

  • What parts of the movie were scary? Why? Did anything that you think was going to be scary turn out not to be so bad?

  • How do the characters in Finding Nemo demonstrate perseverance and courage? What about compassion and gratitude? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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