Finding Nemo Movie Poster Image

Finding Nemo



Sweet father-son tale has some very scary moments.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable

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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:May 30, 2003
DVD/Streaming release date:December 4, 2012
Cast:Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe
Directors:Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Studio:Pixar Animation Studios
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Ocean creatures
Character strengths:Compassion, Courage, Gratitude, Perseverance
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:G
Awards/Honors:Common Sense Media Award

This review of Finding Nemo was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Superb, entertaining animated musical has some scary stuff.
  • Fast, fresh, funny action comedy set undersea.
  • Delightful sequel promotes teamwork; some sadness, scares.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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 "common sense notes" on Nemo or it hadn't yet been posted. In either case, based on the "ages 2 and up" recommendation, and the glowing reviews from parents on this site, I brought my little girl on Saturday to her first movie-theater feature. I wish I hadn't. The movie spends the first 15 minutes or so investing the audience in the two main characters, then spends the next hour putting these characters' lives in peril, in a series of near-violent deaths accentuated by all the soundtrack and sound-effect pyrotechnics you'd expect. There was a huge shark with hundreds of teeth gnashing at the protagonist for a few minutes straight, a freakish looking fish with spiked teeth gnashing at the protagonist for a few minutes, the other protagonist nearly getting shredded in a fish tank filter, the first protagonist and his friend nearly dying in an ever-tightening minefield of jellyfish -- the list goes on and on. I expected a joyful experience where I didn't have to actively parent for a couple of hours. I was dead wrong. Note: my child's media consumption is mostly limited to more feel-good types of shows like Pooh, Mr. Rogers, Clifford, etc., but she is not a shrinking violet.
Teen, 14 years old Written byilovecookiez April 16, 2011

One of my fave movies as a kid!

I loved this movie as a kid! I would watch this like, 24/7! The part where the shark smells the blood and attacks scared me as a kid. Same with the part where a light ends up being this scary fish (I forget what it's called) and he attacks as well. But I still loved it. Warning: This movie may scare children under the age of 8 years.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
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 loving father who cares deeply for his son Nemo, and will not rest until he finds Nemo when he is taken away by divers. Dory is a good friend and helps when she can. However, there are many scary parts that younger kids may be frightened by: There's a barracuda at the beginning that ends up killing Nemo's mother and almost all of her eggs. There are sharks who, at first claim to be friendly with the fish, but end up attacking (no characters are hurt, though the chase scene is very intense). There's also a swarm of jellyfish that end up leaving a character fatally wounded. There's a Deep Sea Anglerfish ("Light Fish") who attacks (again, the characters get away unharmed). One part that is iffy is that a whale, at one part in the movie, mistakenly swallows up two characters; some kids may find this scary (I was always terrified, and still am, at this part, but I have cetaphobia). As you can see, there are many frighting scenes in the movie. Language is okay, though there is some name calling. Overall, this is a good movie, but note, for young and sensitive children, you may want to skip the scary parts. I rate this movie 3 stars. :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence