since1962

Finding Nemo

MPAA Rating: G
Starring: Alexander Gould, Erica Beck, Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Geoffrey Rush
Directed by: Andrew Stanton

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...Underwater used to be overwhelming.
...For feature-film animators, anyway, who treated the ocean floor as beyond their artistic grasp.
...Well, that's now water under the, um, bridge.
...Because Finding Nemo baits the hook with not only a heartwarming father-son story but a visually splendiferous underwater setting.
...Directed by Andrew Stanton, who's had a fin in his share of animated classics (Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc.), Finding Nemo manages to blend comedy, drama, suspense, adventure, and spectacle into a remarkably fluid entertainment.
...Albert Brooks gives voice to the main character, a nervous clown fish named Marlin who's overprotective of his only son Nemo after a tragedy changes family life for them in the Great Barrier Reef.
...When an Australian diver captures Nemo, who ends up in a dentist's-office aquarium in Sydney, the timid clown fish/father takes off after his beloved offspring in a desperate race against time, his own timidity, troubled waters, and astronomical odds.
...Along the way, Marlin and Nemo encounter their share of colorful characters--some helpful, some threatening, some swimming, some flying, all witty--with voices provided by an ensemble cast that includes Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, and Geoffrey Rush.
...And as the central story proceeds swimmingly toward reunion, giving the adventure a strong emotional spine, several themes bob to the surface, chief among them the difficulty parents have letting go of their kids.
...What's perhaps most amazing about the film--even though you catch yourself taking it for granted for stretches of time early on--is the surprisingly convincing, richly detailed oceanic environment.
...This is a marvel of computer-generated animation that raises the bar by capturing the look, feel, sense, and flow of underwater life to an astonishing and arresting degree.
...What its predessors have done for toys, bugs, and monsters, this dip in the sea does for fish.
...We'll submerge 3-1/2 stars out of 4 for the splashy tale that sets the CGI high-water mark for visual design, Finding Nemo.
...There's nothing fishy about this fishiest of animated attractions.

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COMPUTER-ANIMATED CLASSICS

...Computers are one of the big reasons, of course, that we are now enjoying the fruits of a golden age of animation, and Pixar has led the way with its quartet of witty, imaginative blockbusters:

...Toy Story (1995) was the first completely computer-animated, feature-length cartoon, a scintillating entertainment about talking toys--featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen--and a delight for kids of all ages.

...Toy Story 2 (1999) did the impossible. It topped--or at least matched--the glorious original by reaching even more eye-popping, laugh-generating, tear-inducing heights with a continuation of the same joyful, toyful saga.

...A Bug's Life (1998), which was sandwiched by the Toy Stories, is just a shade less wonderful--and an appropriately tiny shade at that. It's a creepy-crawly-creature feature, set in the insect world, about a misfit ant who leaves the colony to save the day.

...And Monsters, Inc. (2001), another technical dazzler, brings the world of children's fears to frightfully funny life, aided by the voices of Billy Crystal and John Goodman as factory-worker citizens of Monstropolis.

 

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