FINDING NEMO (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
CAPSULE: A timid tropical fish earns his stripes when he goes on a quest to rescue his son. Pixar animation's new feature is certainly an audience pleaser, but for once their new feature is not clearly better than their previous work. Rating: 6 (0 to 10), high +1 (-4 to +4)
Pixar Incorporated, the computer animation company that partners with Disney, generally manages to make each new film they make better than their previous effort. It is a faint criticism, but FINDING NEMO is probably no better than being just on a par with MONSTERS, INC. The animation is fine, at times spectacular. Much of the humor is just puns with sea-related words and small allusions to films and film-making. For example, a shark is given the name of a famous prop shark used in another film.
As the story opens, Marlin (a clownfish voiced by Albert Brooks) and his mate are expecting hundreds of their eggs to hatch soon. In a moment's tragedy Marlin loses mate and eggs. Only one egg is left. Sometime later Marlin is a single parent of a single teenager-like offspring. Marlin has become extremely risk-adverse, terrified that something will happen to little Nemo. Then Nemo is captured for an aquarium in a dentist's office. Marlin begins the long odyssey to find his son and return him home. Along the way he picks up a traveling companion, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres). Together they face the dangers of the sea to travel from the Great Barrier Reef to a dentist's office in Sydney and to perform an apparently impossible rescue. The writers seem to have thought of all the ways a fish might possibly die and have put them into the story. Still, this is a moving father-and-son relationship, and one in which for once Disney does not automatically assume that father knows best. The script develops many characters of different types, with voices by actors including Willem Dafoe and Austin Pendleton. Thomas Newman provides the score.
Younger children may be desturbed by scenes of violence against fish and a number of rather fierce and ugly-looking fish, including three sharks ambivalent about eating other fish.
While not Pixar's best effort, FINDING NEMO still beats any Disney animated film through 1960 and probably a good deal later. I rate it a 6 on the 0 to 10 scale and a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale. The film is shown with an older but still enjoyable Pixar short, KNICK KNACK. Also, the end credits have some humorous animation.
Mark R. Leeper email@example.com Copyright 2003 Mark R. Leeper
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