Dad Grades: Marlin – Finding Nemo

(Buena Vista Pictures)

In this edition of Dad Grades, we revisit the hilarious and touching Finding Nemo, Pixar’s 2003 meditation on fish fatherhood.

Finding Nemo takes place in the Great Barrier Reef, ostensibly one of Australia’s top 5 reefs, barrier or otherwise. The movie begins with Marlin, a worrisome clownfish, and his wife, Coral, looking at a quaint oceanview home they’ve just purchased, a cushiony five years before the subprime mortgage crisis.

(Buena Vista Pictures)

Although it’s never addressed directly, the opening dialogue suggests they were one of those obnoxious couples intent on “flipping” this place.

Marlin and Coral are first-time expecting parents, their eggs nestled safely in the anemone. A barracuda shows up and knocks Marlin unconscious. He awakens, disoriented, his wife nowhere to be found and all but one egg missing. He names the surviving fish Nemo.

(Buena Vista Pictures)

This unspeakable tragedy sets the tone for Marlin’s character: an overprotective helicopter parent, a trait at its most evident when he panickedly follows Nemo on a school field trip. Nemo defiantly swims towards a boat and is abducted by a scuba diver. Marlin is now tasked with finding Nemo, just as the title suggests.

(Buena Vista Pictures)

Along for the ride is Dory, a blue tang fish with severe short-term memory loss voiced by Ellen Degeneres. The two traverse the open seas, thwarting carnivorous foes and befriending 150-year-old sea turtles as they make their way to the Sydney Harbor, never losing sight of their objective: drumming up sequel anticipation that will ultimately yield $1 billion in ticket sales thirteen years later. Though we see little interaction between Marlin and Nemo, we learn a lot about him as a dad.

The Good

Marlin is a very watchful guardian, as illustrated in the first few scenes. His overprotective demeanor is portrayed, quite inexplicably, as a character flaw. But, I mean, have you LOOKED in the ocean?

Look at that thing. What the HELL is that?

Marlin is fully aware of these seemingly omnipresent dangers, and that’s why he keeps a cautious, attentive eye on his only child. If anything, he’s not protective enough. If your child ran the risk of bumping into this sort of grotesque evolutionary atrocity every time they left the house, you’d send them to school in one of those big plastic bubbles. Just kidding. You’d homeschool them. And you’d teach them every animal except that one.

The Bad

It’s never stated how much time passes between the death of Marlin’s wife and the abduction of Nemo, but I’m fairly certain it was enough time for him to find Nemo a stepmom. Being a single parent is difficult enough on land, where there aren’t fish with sarlacc pits for mouths.

We’re all sorry for your loss, Marlin, but it’s time to move forward. As the old saying goes: There are plenty of fish in the sea who look exactly like you, if you’re into that sort of thing.

(Buena Vista Pictures)

The Verdict

No, really, what in God’s name is going on here?


Have we all just accepted that this thing exists? Are we doing anything to stop them? Because we are so unbelievably screwed if this thing evolves legs. I’m going to assume that, somewhere, a legislative body of sorts is working tirelessly around the clock on a bill that would effectively eradicate this cruel prank of a creature from our beautiful oceans. Good lord. It looks like the snake from Beetlejuice.

(Warner Bros.)

Marlin’s Final Dad Grade: A-


Pee-Wee Football Player Gets Pumped Up on the Sidelines

Jim Gaffigan Has Something to Say About Beer

(Getty/master1305/Tom Briglia)

A general rule of thumb when making small talk: Don’t talk about religion, politics, or beer preferences.

All three are bound to erupt into heated debates. In the dad community beer in particular tends to be an extremely touchy subject. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what makes a beer amazing or downright sacrilegious, and comedian Jim Gaffigan is no different.

You’re either in full agreement with Jim’s purist perspective or cracking your knuckles to write a scathing comment touting your superior craft beer palate.

But that’s the great thing about beer, nay… America. We all have individual tastes. Just because some guy doesn’t share your affinity for a specific brew, that doesn’t mean he’s wrong (even though he is!) It just means you get to connect with someone with a differing perspective, while drinking beer!

So, if you see Jim in a bar, don’t make fun of him for his taste in beer. Instead, buy him a round, and make fun of his age – like an adult.

Cheers, Jim!

Back To School Photo Fails


Parents love to capture the moment on the first day back to school, but sometimes that moment isn’t what we envisioned. Check out these hilarious back to school photo fails from The Dad community.


Dad Grades – Hal from Malcolm in the Middle

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Years before his dark turn as meth kingpin Heisenberg, Bryan Cranston starred as Hal on the criminally under-appreciated sitcom, Malcolm in the Middle. While his sadistically overbearing wife, Lois, was perpetually at wits end with their four mischievous sons, the much more care-free Hal happily took the passenger seat in their parenting roles.


(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Hal is a loving husband and father. He shows Lois affection through raw animalistic passion and utter dependence. He even admits to it, once telling Lois that he and their boys are not smart enough to function without her, and in return can only offer his total obedience.

He takes a much calmer, more sympathetic approach to parenting than Lois. She has a short fuse, at the end of which is a barrel of dynamite eager to ground someone for the rest of their life. Hal, conversely, seizes any opportunity to bond with his boys by having a sit-down and doling out fatherly words of wisdom.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

He’s far more lenient, but will raise his voice and put his foot down when necessary. He’s often creative in his punishments. For example, when Malcolm told him “[bleep] you,” Hal sat him down in the backyard and forced him to look him in the eyes and read aloud a comprehensive list of every vile swear words, teaching him their power.

His biggest strength, however, is his laid-back, often immature attitude. It serves as a refreshing palate cleanser for Lois’ incessant shouting. He is truly the yin to her yang.


He’s more permissive than his wife. In one episode, Hal surprises the boys by letting them skip school to accompany him at some stock car races.

Hal’s lax approach to parenting is, regrettably, his biggest weakness. His spontaneity and often childish behavior sets a bad example for his sons. Case in point: the steamroller. After winning some money on a scratch-off, Hal secretly rents a steamroller.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

When Dewey catches him, Hal agrees to let him steamroll over Reese’s bike. Ultimately, Hal goes mad with power and Dewey must talk him down from steamrolling a row of cars. Surely this gave Dewey license to misbehave in the future. His impulsive nature is typically harmless, but still sets precedent for the delinquency of his kids.


Despite shortcomings at the cost of his need to be the parent his sons actually like, Hal is a great father. Sure, all four of his sons are rambunctious hellions, disobedient and destructive at every turn, but that’s predominantly the result of their stubborn, temperamental mother. He’s a big-hearted working stiff, determined to provide for his family however dysfunctional they may be.


Dancing Dad Embarrasses Daughter at Baseball Game [VIDEO]

Being a dad involves a lot of anxiety, drudgery, and stress. Sometimes you get to enjoy the perks of parenting, like embarrassing your children on television. Or in the stands at a Cubs game.

Or both!

This dad knows what’s up. He ignores his daughter’s attempts to get him to stop dancing and then doubles down on the silly moves.

Father Figures: Be Positive

“My twin girls (Faye and Felicia) are both autistic.

Felicia was diagnosed before she was three; she’s non verbal and loves life in her own wee bubble. Once she lets you in, it’s amazing. That’s her circle of trust.

Faye is her total opposite, always singing and chatting up a storm. Once they started preschool, we found out that Faye was showing signs of autism that we perhaps overlooked because she was so advanced.

My wife and I, with the assistance of Faye’s teachers, pushed hard to get her assessed, reassessed and diagnosed. Faye is very smart and fooled the specialist in the first assessment regarding extra help in school. We were very lucky when she was diagnosed, because the specialist ASD doctors could still recognize her traits.

It’s been a long journey and no two days are alike. Through it all we’ve learned that Faye is just a younger, female version of her older brother. From her diagnosis, we were able to recognize the ASD traits in Jordan. He is now beginning the diagnostic process.

But long story short, both our girls now attend an autism unit in a special school. It’s a God send and they are both doing great! They turned 6 in August and Jordan will be 11 this December.

Be positive and always make sure your child gets all they need. Raising a child with special needs definitely puts into perspective what’s important in life!

Everything for the kids!”

– Nic Young

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8-Year-Old Girl Stuns Crowd at Harlem Globetrotters Game [VIDEO]

(YouTube/Harlem Globetrotters)

When the Harlem Globetrotters called Samaya Clark-Gabriel onto the court at halftime of their game, the crowd at Madison Square Garden wasn’t sure what to expect. But at this stage in a Globetrotters game it would certainly take a lot to impress them.

First she just started dribbling.

But then she started dribbling two basketballs at once. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold and DOING A SPLIT.

Wow. Did they sign her yet?

Big Dad Rides Small Bike as a Tribute to Late Daughter

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

Peter Williams of Penzance, England is showing incredible strength after the loss of his daughter. On Friday at 10am, he began a 211-mile ride to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

In 2015, Peter lost his 7-year-old daughter, Ellie, to a rare form of brain cancer, only six months after she was diagnosed.

To honor his daughter he decided to begin his ride at Bristol Children’s Hospital where Ellie was treated. He’s also making the entire trip on her little pink bike, which is only 20″ high. Given Peter is 6 feet tall, that’s going to make for an additional challenge, but he’s up for it.

Aside from a small modification to the bike’s seat, he’ll be riding the bike as-is. “My knees clear the handlebars by about half an inch so it’s going to be really tight, but it’s a great bike,” he told the BBC. When he factors in his unique mode of transportation Peter estimates the ride from Bristol to Land’s End will take him a week to complete.

Ellie loved cycling and impressed her dad at age three, when she was able to ride without training wheels.

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

The bike he’ll be riding was her pride and joy – a present she received for her last Christmas.

So far Peter has raised £23,349 (roughly $30K US) through his JustGiving campaign, already doubling his £10,000 target.

What a guy! What a dad! Go, Peter, go!

If you’d like donate to Peter’s campaign, visit his JustGiving page.

If you want to learn more about where the money is going, check out The Brain Tumour Charity.