Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Austin Pendleton, Geoffrey Rush
Finding Nemo was the big animated film of 2003 (OK, so there wasn't a Lilo and Stitch or a Spirited Away up against the Pixar offering that year), and one of that year's biggest money-makers. I didn't originally review the film and nothing about its trailer really enticed me to see it for the sheer enjoyment of doing so -- something I recently rectified.
In some ways, I wasn't as blown away by it as I think I was supposed to be. In terms of recent animation, it fell definitely below Spirited Away and Lilo and Stitch, while in terms of Pixar, I found it lacked the heart -- and some of the scripting creativity -- of Monsters, Inc.. However, anything it may have lacked in those areas, it made up for in its stunning visuals. This is the most shimmeringly beautiful film Pixar has made -- and the most gorgeous of all computer-imaged animated films, if it comes to that. It's an almost psychedelic beauty usually found only in bits and pieces in traditional animated films like Fantasia and Yellow Submarine, but done in such a different style and with such a different color scheme that it doesn't really compare with anything else.
Many films attempt to create a separate world, but Finding Nemo actually succeeds in doing so. There's nothing exactly wrong with the story or the script. It's simply that neither is anything special, while the mechanics used to set up the film's more emotional moments are too obvious to be entirely effective. The movies does, however, boast a few genuinely brilliant comic creations, most notably Ellen DeGeneres' Dory -- a fish with absolutely no short-term memory -- and a group of sharks involved in a 12-step program to keep them from succumbing to the urge to eat their fellow sea creatures.
The story line involving Nemo (voice of Alexander Gould) being caught and taken off to live in an aquarium in a dentist's office in Sydney, Australia, thereby sending his father (voice of Albert Brooks) in search of him, is workable without being too complicated for younger children. While Finding Nemo is only a full-fledged masterpiece in visual terms, it's still a thoroughly enjoyable family film.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke
[Pack Memorial Library will show Finding Nemo at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004 in its own Lord Auditorium. Call 255-5203 for more information.]