Marlin the clown fish (voice of Albert Brooks) was as happy as a clam with his lovely wife Coral (voice of Elizabeth Perkins) and about 400 babies about to hatch. But, when a vicious barracuda invades his new home he loses Coral and all but one of the eggs. That survivor, named Nemo, is now raring to go to school despite his overly protective father's fears and anxieties over the cold, cruel world. As fate and luck would have it a diver captures the venturesome little clown fish and Marlin must go on a quest for "Finding Nemo."
This amiable, beautifully visualized fish-out-of-water (well, in-the-water, really, but, you know...) story that offers few, if any, plot surprises, but is such a good natured little film that it should do well with younger and older kids, their parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins. Heck, this should appeal to just about anyone with a sense of whimsy and fantasy.
The ongoing teaming of Disney and Pixar has always been successful and each of their collaborations can be rated very good on up. "Finding Nemo" will not be an exception. While the fishy characters, for the most part, are anthropomorphized with typical human traits, the environment that they live in - the deep, blue sea - is an amazingly realistic looking place. The computer graphics create a visual world that you would actually see if you dived down 50 feet on a coral reef - the waters in which our heroes live have the look and feel of reality.
The by-the-numbers story: the inquisitive and impatient son challenges an overly protective father's authority. The child, Nemo here, is snatched away because of his rebelliousness and it becomes the sole mission of his milquetoast father, Marlin, to overcome his fears and many adversities along the way to rescue his beloved son. Both learn much along the way and new, deep friendships are made. "Finding Nemo" is an honestly nice family film that blends virtual reality with its fantasy world.
The characters that populate the world in which Marlin must travel to save Nemo and the boy's world of captivity in a fish tank in the dentist's office are richly diverse. Brooks is a perfect choice of the whining, insecure dad who proves his real mettle when push comes to shove. Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), a blue tang with short term memory problems, is lovable, charming and funny as she promptly forgets everything - except for the one crucial bit of information that will help Marlin find his son. The rest of the "supporting" cast is well matched with the vocals suiting the fish to which they are paired.
Nemo, as voiced by nine-year old Alexander Gould, has the right little boy quality, with intelligence and courage. The rest are just as well suited. Barry Humphries (known to most as Dame Edna) is amusing as Bruce the shark who is on a 12-step program to stop devouring fish. Willem Dafoe as Gill, Nemo's fellow inmate and much-scarred veteran of many escape attempts from the doctor's aquarium, is the sensei of his young friend. Helmer Andrew Stanton voices Crush, a 150-year old sea turtle, who is the epitome of "you are as young as you feel" surfer dude who helps Marlin on his quest to get to Sydney and find Nemo. Joe Ranft, who voiced the lovable chubby caterpillar in "A Bug's Life", is a riot in his small (no pun intended) but effective characterization of Jacques, the cleaner shrimp. There are many, many more familiar names in the voice cast.
Technically, "Finding Nemo" combines the familiar look of traditional cel animation but fully rendered with CGI and in all its vibrancy. The computer graphic work allows a level of realism of the undersea world that makes you want to grab a mask and fins and go down for a look yourself.
The early screening of "Finding Nemo" was preceded by the 1989 Pixar creation "Knick Knack," a marvelous early use of CGI that also displays the storytelling talents of its creators that have wonderfully been magnified to feature length miracles. "Nemo" isn't the best of the Disney/Pixar collaboration but it ain't shabby. I give it a B+.
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