When watching the famous and family friendly film Finding Nemo, you may not have paid much attention to P. Sherman the dentist who provided his office as the fish tank home. This is a mistake, because without him and his office, the movie could have never played out in the way it did, and Nemo would have never found his way home. While traditionally considered a villain, P. Sherman is actually shown as a caring pet owner, loving uncle and an accomplished dentist.
In the earlier part of the film, the fish plot an escape plan for when P. Sherman cleans their filthy tank. When P. Sherman sees the terrible state of the fish tank, he makes sure, before seeing any patients, to address the issue and give the fish a sparkling clean tank. The AquaScum 3000 is the latest in fish tank cleaning technology and provides regular pH and temperature checks. Of course this thwarts any plans the fish had made for escape, but it demonstrates P. Sherman’s dedication to the care of his office pets. If fish had teeth, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to think he’d take excellent care of them too.
Most importantly, P. Sherman (with his tools and spit fountain) provides the only way for Nemo’s eventual escape back to the ocean, through the pipes. In the rising action of the film, Nemo plays dead in order to get flushed down the toilet, but it ends up being the spit fountain that he is flushed down as a method to escape. No other profession would offer Nemo this route of escape, which makes dentistry key in this film.
Not only does his office provide a safe and comfortable environment for the fish, they are also gaining a valuable education in watching him practice. In the start of the film the fish remark on an in-progress root canal and display their knowledge of the tools as they discuss. There’s no doubt that any dentist student would jump at such a marvelous chance to observe a true professional at work and absorb so much information about the practice.
Though it’s tough to see without pausing and zooming in certain screen shots, P. Sherman has been awarded a number of awards and certificates. These include, The Toothless Grin of the Society of Denture Wearers, a diploma from the Pixar School of Dentistry and the Gums Most Likely to Recede Award. It’s clear that he’s no hack and takes his work very seriously.
A loving uncle, reputable dental professional and great pet owner, P. Sherman is definitely not any sort of villain. In an animated world designed for kids, it’s important to display the adult characters with strong moral values and positive attitudes. Finding Nemo does this in spades and might even convince some kids to not be so afraid of the dentist in the future. If this film has taught us one thing, it’s that dentists aren’t so bad.