Parallels between Bringing Up Baby and Finding Nemo

Bringing Up Baby is a romantic comedy from 1938 with  Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant in the leading roles, it is considered to be one of the best crazy comedies of all time. There´s a leopard in it.

Finding Nemo is an animated story about two fishes, made in 2003. It is very popular due to its depiction of family values, friendship and so on, we´ve all seen it, we all know it.

The question is, what do these two movies have in common. To my surprise, quite a lot. Let´s have a look at it together.

In Bringing Up Baby, David, engaged, organized, educated man meets an excentric young woman, Susan. After their short and very adventurous acquaintance Susan callshim that she has obtained a leopard. More adventures are ahead,this time involving a leopard. During those David is deprived of a very valuable and rare dinosaur bone, which was the last piece for a dinosaur skeleton in his museum. Susan´s dog George stole it. While looking for the bone, the leopard and the way out of the whole situation David is slowly falling for Susan.

In Finding Nemo, a widower-father Marlin sets on a journey to look for his son Nemo. He meets Dory on his way, a forgetful but well-meaning fish, which decides to join him. A deep friendship is developing between those twoo as they are making their way to Sydney.

So in both stories there is a relationship building, in the first one it is romantic as the genre demands, in the second one it is friendship to make it more understandable for the younger viewers and to show a certain agenda – just because you are different or “damaged”, it doesn´t mean you will die alone. Even Susan is “damaged” in a way – she´s too vigorous, too much of a free spirit, today´s movie industry could place her into the TV archetype of a manic pixie dream girl, although that is often used in a pejorative way.

So that´s the first parallel:

David ———Marlin

Susan ——— Dory

In that case the dinosaur bone could be Nemo but I would go as far as saying that is a parallel, because no matter how expensive and rare the bone is, its loss will never be as serious as a loss of a child. The second possibility is that Nemo is the alternative to the million dollars which David tries to get for the museum from Susan´s aunt. Or he might be Mr. Peabody with whom David is trying to meet and is constantly being disturbed by Susan. Still, that´s a bit far- fetched.

But the leopard, Baby, could certainly be present in Finding Nemo by the tiny jellyfish Squishy. Both ladies clearly have a thing for dangerous pets. In addition to that, Baby is in the course of the movie joined by another leopard, circus-made, aggressive, in comparison to which Baby really looks like Squishy against the fuckload of jellyfish, through which Marlin and Dory race (with a bit of a drastic outcome).

The syuzhets are similar only if we have some imagination, but the similarity of the main couples sticks through the entire movies. David/Marlin has a goal, Susan/Dory makes it all harder for him but she means well. David/Marlin is a bit uptight and sometimes quite a smartass, Susan/Dory is optimistic, energetic, always in a good mood and she seems like she might need help.

At the beginning of their relationship there is the aspect of “following”. Marlin is “following” Dory because he thinks she´s following the boat, while she has already forgotten they had even spoken. David doesn´t actually follow Susan, he just happens to bump into her everywhere he goes in pursuit of Mr. Peabody, but she calls it “following”, same as Dory.

And then there is the scene which got me crawling all over the ceiling.

I´m thinking about the scene in Finding Nemo, which comes around the  41st minute of the movie. I couldn´t find any clip so I was forced to make a shitty screenshot gif.


In Bringing Up Baby there´s almost an identical scene, where David is sending Susan home while they are looking for their escaped Baby.


Very rough translation of the gif, the actual movie says something a bit different:

Susan: So… you want me to go home?

David: “Yes.”

Susan: “You mean.. you don´t want me to help you anymore?”

David: “…no.”

Susan: “After all the fun we had? After all I´ve done for you?”

David: “Yeah… that´s the problem…”

(…something something, you catch my drift)

At the end there´s one more scene that happens, with some differences, in both movies. Susan/Dory starts pretending and makes David/Nemo go along with it. I´m thinking about the “Dory speaks whale” scene and Susan making up a whole new identity. In both cases the protagonists are screwed and the women are taking charge and letting their creativity loose. Dory actually speaks whale and Susan is one hell of an acttress.

So to sum up:



David follows Susan.———Marlin follows Dory.

Looking for a leopard together.——-Looking for Nemo together.

“Break-up”———— “Break-up”

Swingin´Door Susie—– Whale

I don´t know if someone in the creative team of Finding Nemo saw Bringing Up Baby and was like ´hey, let´s make this but with fish´, but the resemblance is uncanny and fascinating. I definitely recommend Bringing Up Baby, the czech dubbing isn´t bad but the english original is better. Even its title is a pun, I mean, come on.

You will probably  want a leopard after that.


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