After last fall's gargantuan success of “The Lion King 3D” (which topped the domestic box office its opening weekend and went on to make over $175 million worldwide), Disney naturally lunged at the chance to convert more of its classic titles to 3D.
Before makeovers of “Monster’s Inc.” and “The Little Mermaid” arrive within the next year, “Finding Nemo 3D” swims into theaters this weekend. While the extra dimension is hardly worth the ticket up-charge, the chance to revisit one of Disney-Pixar’s most charming movies is one you won’t want to miss.
For those unfamiliar with the Oscar-winning animated feature, “Finding Nemo” follows a clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) as he sets out on a great adventure across the sea to find his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who is taken by a diver and put in a dentist office fish tank. With a scene-stealing turn from Ellen DeGeneres as dim-witted regal tang, Dory, the movie tells a heartwarming story that can be appreciated by children and adults alike.
Although I watched the film countless times as a youngster, “Nemo” feels just as fresh and entertaining as it did the first time I saw it in summer 2003. I still can’t help but laugh when Dory attempts to speak whale, or when Marlin crashes and burns trying to land a joke (he’s really not all that funny for a clownfish, you know). As is the case with most Pixar films, you pick up on subtle touches and humor with each viewing, and resonate with the more poignant moments as you get older. Pixar is the only animation studio that successfully takes risks and wanders into sentimental territory, which more than pays off for mature audiences.
So with a film this fantastic, it’s probably worth checking out in 3D, right? Well, not exactly. The animation itself is magnificent…but it was just as so in 2003. The extra dimension hardly adds any depth to the picture, unless you are easily thrilled by bubbles or coral reefs that look ever-so-slightly enhanced. The 3D is even detrimental at some points, particularly in scenes set within sunken ships or at night, which become murky and sometimes difficult to see. The times when the 3D pops most are during action sequences, like a high-speed seagull chase through the sky and a ride along the East Australian Current with some laidback sea turtles, but these moments are far and few between.
If you’ve never seen the film before or would like to see it again in theaters, I recommend that you opt for a 2D screening and save yourself a few bucks. The only thing you’re really missing from your DVD at home is a delightful new cartoon short that shows before the movie called “Partysaurus Rex,” which is almost (the keyword being almost) worth the price of admission alone. Featuring classic “Toy Story” characters and a handful of new ones, “Partysaurus” follows clumsy dinosaur Rex as he tries to prove to the other toys that he’s fun to be around. Let’s just say, it’s the Disney-Pixar homage to the current craze of rave and EDM culture: thumping bass, laser lights and all. If you even remotely know of or have experienced such an outrageous atmosphere, you’ll surely be in stitches from start to finish.
Otherwise, it’s a shame that Disney-Pixar was more concerned with readying the film for a December Blu-ray release than actually spending time on a high-quality conversion. Where “Finding Nemo” could have submerged the audience in breathtaking 3D, it merely permits us to tread water.
Grade in 2D: A
Grade in 3D: C-