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Rated 2.99 stars
by 1855 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Sea Treasure
by Jeffrey Chen

Regarding Finding Nemo, I have something to confess right away: I'm a big Pixar fan. I love the guys at that studio -- their style of animation, their sense of humor, their storytelling pace. Because their movies require so much planning and attention to detail, I always know I'm getting the highest quality products from them. Yes, I'd be a spokesperson for their commercials. I'd wash their cars and invite them home for dinner. Well, you get the idea.

I also love their formulas. Even the Disney animated feature formula gets tiring every so often -- their stories are always about the outcast looking for some way to belong, and usually their strength of individuality is what triumphs in the end. It's a good formula, but just how many variations can you make with that? Pixar's formula, however, is about relationships -- how two people or parties start out misunderstanding each other and ultimately learn to make a connection. The beauty of that formula is in the variety with which Pixar has applied it -- two natural competitors becoming friends (Toy Story); two factions of society learning to work together (A Bug's Life); a group of people learning to overcome the unwarranted fear of another group (Monsters, Inc.). So given the facts that Finding Nemo is a Pixar film that uses this tried-and-true formula, it becomes almost needless for me to say, "I loved it."

Finding Nemo's fractured relationship is between a father and a son, as played out among the creatures who inhabit the ocean (the coral reefs near Australia, to be exact). The obstacle is the father's over-protectiveness of the son. One can hardly blame him, though -- Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks), a clownfish, lost his whole family and now only has his son, Nemo (voice of Alexander Gould), to look after. But he can't even let Nemo go on a school field trip without feeling the need to follow along, just to make sure nothing happens to him. Naturally, Nemo is annoyed at this, but before too long a diver captures him, prompting Marlin to embark on a mad search to find and rescue him.

This allows Marlin to not only run into a partner in the search (a regal blue tang named Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), but also encounter various creatures and dangerous situations, allowing Pixar to do the thing they do best -- render environments. Those with an eye for detail can marvel at the work done here -- the endless particles floating throughout the sea in each background, the way the fins continue to flutter as the fish characters tread water, the way the light refracts and bends in the underwater scenery. The scene with the jellyfish is a thing of ethereal beauty -- the pods and tentacles look absolutely real, which, in turn, look absolutely unreal (and if you've seen real jellyfish in aquarium exhibits, you know what I mean).

The plethora of character possiblities is not wasted on Pixar, naturally, so we run into a large variety of sea creatures, including octopi, rays, sharks, lantern fish, puffer fish, and sea turtles. Most of them are played for humor, and much of it is effective -- I like the school of fish that talks as one entity, and the comedic collection of creatures that inhabit a dentist's fish tank. However, the scene stealer of the movie is Dory -- I call her the "Memento-fish," and when you see the movie you'll know why. DeGeneres makes her one of the funniest and most endearing characters I've encountered in a Pixar cast.

Finding Nemo also features the standard set of thrills that Pixar offers with each new outing, although this time they may seem more intense than usual -- a warning for those with sensitive young ones in the audience. But those Pixar strengths -- story, humor, characters, and art -- will shine through, more dependable the than rising of the ocean tides. Finding Nemo is another worthy jewel in the company's crown.

(Released by Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios and rated "G" for general audiences.)

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