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Home » Entertainment » Looking for Nemo? You won’t find him here! (Review of Padak: Swimming to Sea)


The "fish in a tank" scenario might remind you of a particular Pixar film, and you might catch a glimpse of clownfish, but this bleak CGI-animated creation is not for kids, the faint of heart, or someone who wants uplift.

Looking for Nemo? You won’t find him here! (Review of Padak: Swimming to Sea)


What follows is a Padak: Swimming to Sea review. It’s a South-Korean animated film with subtitles. My (young adult) daughter has a way of introducing me to movies I would have otherwise never seen. This one was an interesting watch, but definitely not one for the kids. In the end, I had to question whether or not I was glad I had seen it.

Partway into Padak: Swimming to Sea, a CGI-animated South Korean film, a fish lays on the chopping block, ready to be served for dinner. This fish knows his fate and watches as diners eat his brethren, some still alive on the plate. Focus in on his shock-wide, flounder eyes, and I realize a new film genre has been born: Piscine Horror.

The main character of the film is a mackerel trapped, along with many other fishes, in a tank in front of a grocery store. If you’re a watcher of Pixar films, it’s a scenario that’s sure to bring to mind the fish tank part of Finding Nemo. But this isn’t a coral reef aquarium in a dental office, and the threat here is more significant than Darla.

This aquarium is the kind where shoppers come to buy dinner, and the inmates know that. The leader of the group is an old flatfish. This codger has stayed alive as long as he has through a combination of hiding under a plate in the tank and playing dead — a strategy he enforced on his tankmates.

Mackerel is new, however, and challenges his authority, which makes part of the drama in the film. She is fresh-caught, and, unlike most of her tankmates, recalls life in the ocean and strives to return to it.

But, amid the piscine horror, there are also some gems to be found: some satisfyingly surreal scenes with lovely music emerge suddenly from the depths. And, at times, the characters having to come to grips with their inevitable demise was moving, though not uplifting.

And that’s something you don’t often find in American animated films: the willingness to confront some of the so-called “darker” aspects of life face-on. This film does not sugarcoat. And it ends, perhaps, with a glimmer of hope amid all of the despair.

You won’t find Nemo here and should reconsider whether you want to bring the kids here looking for him. But you might find something worth spending 90 minutes on, especially if you’re a fan of the more disturbing side of animation.

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Movie Review: Padak: Swimming to Sea
Cheryl is a former Occupational Therapist and WordPress enthusiast who became a writer in some parallel universe and occasionally, but infrequently, publishes things in this one. She writes two blogs (or is it three) which she won't quit because she knows that blogs, in her case, are like a hydra and if she cuts one off two more will take its place. When she's not doing that, she enjoys hiking, cycling, kayaking (formerly fast, now ebike), messing around with Adobe illustrator, making assorted things, meditating (though she wouldn't call that "like," and reading. She normally doesn't speak about herself in the third person, but she sometimes uses "we" in the royal sense while writing this blog. She lives in Poulsbo, WA with her spouse, her youngest adult daughter, a very old mutt, and a Siamese cat.
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