Click here 2 and a half stars

Finding Nemo

Fishing for love in all the wet places

"Finding Nemo"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the images to see larger versions and credits.)

You might think that being a clownfish is all fun and games, but it's a dangerous ocean out there. Just ask Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks). He had it all -- a beautiful home with a view, a loving wife, and a brood of kids on the way.

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo
However, a chance predator takes out nearly everything, leaving Marlin with just one son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), and Marlin swears that nothing will happen to Nemo as long as daddy is around.

Time passes, and it's time for little Nemo to head out to school. However, his overprotective dad has Nemo seeing red, and so the little fish with the half-formed fin ventures out farther than he should -- and is caught by a dentist looking for a new addition to his tropical fish collection.

Doggedly, Marlin sets out to bring his boy home. He is aided by Dory (Ellen deGeneres), a loopy bluefish with short-term memory loss that occasionally jeopardizes Marlin's mission. But the plucky Dory sticks with him, and turns out to be a valuable ally, even with her problems remembering what happened just a few minutes before.

Meanwhile, Nemo is attempting an escape of his own, aided by several denizens of the fish tank, notably the only one among them who had actually lived out in the open ocean, Gill (Willem Dafoe). Marlin must navigate through the ocean's natural dangers, ranging from a minefield of beautiful (but deadly) jellyfish, to a trio of sharks undergoing a twelve-step program to become, well, friendlier to fish.

The environment created by Pixar is even more enchanting than the undersea world of Disney's other waterlogged animations, The ''Little Mermaid'' and ''Atlantis,'' mainly because it seems more real. The sequence with the current-surfing turtles is one of the best Pixar has ever come up with.

In many ways, this is the most Disney-esque of the animated features Pixar has done, which, considering that director Andrew Stanton was responsible for ''A Bug's Life'' -- quite frankly the weakest Pixar movie to date -- is not surprising.

Although ''Finding Nemo'' has gotten universally excellent reviews (including from my spouse Da Queen, who quite firmly stated that this is an Animation classic), I found it to be less engaging than either of the ''Toy Stories'' or ''Monsters, Inc.''

Albert Brooks has always struck me as kind of a poor man's Woody Allen (making him, I suppose, a rich man's Richard Lewis), somewhat neurotic and pessimistic, which suits Marlin well enough, but can get on the nerves over the course of 101 minutes. Dory is the best-drawn (excuse the pun) of the characters here; she is certainly handicapped by her memory problems, but never allows it to get her down. She turns out to be a loyal friend, something Marlin desperately needs.

Don't get me wrong; the kids are going to love this, and adults will find some of it spectacular at times. Like nearly every Pixar movie, this one has enough subtext (particularly in the humor) to keep the attention of the big kids, and enough eye candy to keep the attention of the smaller kids. It's already one of the big winners in the 2003 box office derby, and a big shot-in-the-arm for Disney's flagging studio fortunes (particularly after the dismal performance of ''Treasure Planet''). One can only wonder how this is going to affect negotiations between the Mouse and Pixar, whose contract expires after the release of next year's ''The Incredibles'' (the trailer for which precedes ''Finding Nemo,'' and judging from what I saw there, may well be even better than anything else Pixar has done). You have every reason to see this movie, but be warned that at least for my part, I had a difficult time loving this as much as I have other Pixar movies. Perhaps therein lies my own problem - my expectations. You may want to go into this without any. You may enjoy it more than I did.

Your kids are going to want to see this more than once, so get used to driving to the multiplex at least once this summer with the kids in tow. Don't worry, though - your kids will make you buy the video too. No kids? You'll still want to see some of the spectacular underwater scenes on the big screen.

AT HOME OR AT A THEATER?
Your kids are going to want to see this more than once, so get used to driving to the multiplex with the kids in tow. Don't worry, though - your kids will make you buy the video too. No kids? You'll still want to see some of the spectacular underwater scenes on the big screen.


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See cast, credit and other details about "Finding Nemo" at Internet Movie Data Base.