Finding Nemo (2003)

reviewed by
Homer Yen


"Finding Nemo"  A Whale of a Tale
by Homer Yen
(c) 2003

I once hear this joke in elementary school. Q: How do fish get ahead? A: By staying in school!

I guess little Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould) never heard that one. He leaves the safety of his warm-water shelf and his fishy chums for the deep water. He probably knows that he shouldn't, but feels compelled if only to prove his neurotic Dad wrong and to satisfy his own burgeoning curiosity.

It's a good idea, but it turns out to be bad timing. Nemo is capture by divers and is subsequently deposited into an aquarium in an office of a not-so-skilled dentist. If Nemo thought that his initial capture was scary, it'll be nothing compared to his front-row seat to some very painful extractions. To make matters worse, he will probably be given as a gift to a young girl who handles delicate things in the same way an enthusiastic bartender makes a martini.

Nemo needs to escape. This aspect provides us with inspired storytelling and visuals. Nemo discovers that his fellow aquarium-mates are all looking for a way out. Together, they all work to develop a dilly of an escape plan. It's very clever stuff indeed.

Meanwhile, Nemo's dad, Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks), embarks on a dangerous journey to recover his son. He is primarily aided by Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a scatterbrained blue tang with a short-term memory problem. She is sometimes funny and sometimes not, sometimes boon and sometimes annoying. I'm still unsure of whether I liked this character. Dory's presence became more and more of a distraction to an otherwise enjoyable film. You begin to wonder how Marlin could even put up with her. But their alliance remained strong, and together they negotiated the dangers of the ocean, including predatory fish and birds, fishing nets, and a treacherous jellyfish forest. As I've said, it's all very inventive stuff.

The greatest accomplishment is the look and texture of the undersea world. I found it amazing how rays of sunlight strained to illuminate the shallow depths or how creatures first appear as shadows but quickly materialized into focus. The sensation felt as virtual as snorkeling or scuba diving. Another impressive visual was the Sydney harbor, where Marlin must travel to locate Nemo. It seemed so lifelike. It's easy to recommend this film based on the visuals alone. Add in some funny characters, a fair amount of pathos, plus a grand adventure, and "Finding Nemo" will provide you with a cute afternoon diversion.

"Finding Nemo" may be G-rated fare aimed at kids. However, there's more than enough material to keep adults entertained as well. For the grown-ups, they will be pleased with the familiar look and feel. Pixar, who created films like "Toy Story "and" Monsters, Inc, also creates this film. While this may not be as joyously inventive as Pixar's greatest achievement, "Toy Story 2," it seems clear that we can rely on sound, entertaining offerings from them in the future.

Needless to say, kids will be absolutely enthralled. They will love the vivid colors of the underwater flora as well as the beautiful tropical fish. They'll want to sit closer to the screen because the nearer you are, the more real it'll seem. And for them, as well as the rest of us, it will seem like a grand day at SeaWorld.

Grade: B
S:        0 out of 3
L:        0 out of 3
V:        1 out of 3
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X-RT-RatingText: B

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