movie film review | chris tookey

Finding Nemo

Pixar/ Disney - all rights reserved
  Finding Nemo Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
Average Rating
8.50 /10
Featuring the voices of: , Marlin: Albert Brooks , Dory: Ellen DeGeneres
Full Cast >

Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Written by: Bob Peterson, Andrew Stanton, David Reynolds

Released: 2003
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 104

A father and son are separated.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Finding Nemo is that delightful rarity - a family film that genuinely appeals to all the family, and not only children. It will enchant the most fidgety four year-old, but most grown-ups will also fall for it, hook, line and sinker. It's one of the best yet from Pixar, the animators who made the Toy Story movies, A Bug's Life and Monsters Inc. And it's a magnificent piece of story-telling.

Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is a perennially anxious clownfish who can't tell jokes and doesn't have much to laugh about, especially when - and this is only the pre-titles sequence - a barracuda destroys his home and eats his wife and 399 eggs. The 400th survives and becomes Nemo (Alexander Gould).

On his first day at school, Nemo doesn't heed the advice of his understandably over-protective dad and swims out to inspect a boat - whereupon he's scooped up by a diver and taken off to a tropical fish tank in a Sydney dentist's surgery.

From then on, the story divides in two, as Nemo tries to escape the tank with the help of his fellow internees, led by a scarred old-timer called Gill (Willem Dafoe). Marlin attempts to find Nemo with the help of an eternally optimistic blue fish called Dory (Ellen de Generes).

Along the way, they encounter such characters as Bruce the shark (Barry Humphries) who's formed a self-help group with a couple of like-minded predators in order to turn themselves into nice guys, not mindless eating machines; Nigel, an accident-prone pelican (Geoffrey Rush) and Crush (played by the film's director and co-writer, Andrew Stanton), a 150 year-old turtle who believes like any surfer dude that, hey, you just go with the flow.

The clownfishes' adventures are suspenseful, unpredictable and ceaselessly inventive. The visuals are gorgeous, and make marvellous use of reflection, refraction and the brilliant colours of aquatic life. The gags are often very funny, and - wonder of wonders - the film espouses "family" values without ever becoming earnest or preachy.

It's arguably the best film ever made about parental anxiety. Marlin learns not to become quite so over-protective. But Nemo discovers the importance of caution and that his father's twitchiness is born out of love, not just a determination to be a spoilsport.

The film even tackles the potentially schmaltzy, politically correct subject of disability and does so in a positive, thoughtful way. Nemo is born with one fin smaller than the other and is no great swimmer - but he largely overcomes his disability through courage.

Marlin's friend Dory has a mental defect - short-term memory loss - but conquers that too, thanks to her friendliness and optimistic outlook. The script carries off the difficult task of making her disability funny, yet at the same time sad and sympathetic. Ellen de Generes, not the warmest of performers in the flesh, comes across in fish form as a terrific comedienne. The scene where she attempts to talk fluent whale is a classic.

Finding Nemo is charmingly acted, beautifully scripted, and pacily directed, with a wit - verbal, visual and even musical - that raise it to the highest level of film-making. Its success in America has already made it the most successful animated picture of all time. Artistically, it's up there with the all-time animated greats.

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