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The Statesman

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    Finding Nemo Swims with the Big Fish

    From toys, to bugs to monsters, Pixar has put out one quality movie after another. Finding Nemo is no exception, as the creators of Toy Story explore the underwater world, telling a heartwarming tale about a father and son… well, a clownfish and its offspring.

    The computer animators behind Finding Nemo really did an amazing job, bringing the ocean to life in a way no other movie has done. The colors are vibrant, the characters are lively and the motions are crisp, clean and smooth. Every fish in the sea moves gracefully, their fins beating to the motion of the ocean. The numerous underwater settings and characters would be dazzlingly entertaining with no plot at all, but Pixar has combined computer technology and humane sincerity (with huge doses of successful good humor) to create a staggeringly satisfying movie.

    The story takes place off theGreat Barrier Reef, nearSydney, where orange-and-white striped clown fish parents have just moved into their new anemone home with their 400 little eggs. All of a sudden, the mother and 399 of the children are eaten by a barracuda, leaving Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould) to fend for themselves.

    Marlin is a clown fish who?s not funny (he tells really lame jokes), and he?s overly protective of Nemo. In a moment of angry defiance, little Nemo gets captured by a dentist/diver who takes him home and plops him into his office aquarium. That sets the father, Marlin, off on an exciting, but dangerous adventure to retrieve his lost son.

    As he searches for his son, Marlin becomes a legend in the ocean, teaming up with Dory (hilariously voiced by Ellen Degeneres), a blue tang fish, and battles sharks, jellyfish and rides the underwater currents with a cool-dude sea turtle named Crush (voiced by Andrew Stanton). Via the chatter of a visiting pelican, word of Marlin?s adventures reach Nemo, who?s being held in the dentist?s aquarium until he can be handed over to the dentist?s Jason-esque niece, who shook another fish to death. Upon hearing about his brave father, Nemo finds hope and new respect for his daddy.

    An interesting note about Finding Nemo is the role played by handicapped characters. Marlin is emotionally handicapped, suffocating and overprotective of his son. Nemo has one small fin, and he is unable to swim normally. Dora has short-term memory loss, a la Memento. There is even a gang of sharks starting a twelve-step program to eliminate their addiction to eating fish. I don?t think there has ever been such a socially conscious children?s movie as this one.

    Aside from their disabilities, the characters in Finding Nemo are astoundingly portrayed. With little outlet for body movement, most of their personality must come from their voices, and Pixar does an amazing job bringing the characters to life. Their vivid emotions and sincere humanity (ironic, isn?t it?) make the audience authentically care.

    Nemo is a great family film. There are a lot of lessons to be learned, and the little fish do a lot of growing up along the course of the movie. Kids will love the slapstick humor and adults will love the subtle, mature nuances. All in all, Finding Nemo is probably one of the best films of 2003.

    I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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