Finding Nemo is a whale of an adventure from Pixar Animation Studios, the digital wizards behind Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Monsters Inc.  In it, Nemo, a rambunctious little clown fish, is scooped away from his home in the Great Barrier Reef, and dropped into a dentist's office aquarium.  Talk about culture shock!  Meanwhile, Nemo's overprotective and underconfident father, Marlin, embarks on an adventure of his own, as he frantically searches the sea for his lost son.  What follows is one of the most thoughtful, funny, and entertaining family films I've seen in a long time.
   
    First off, it's no surprise that Pixar has taken things up a couple notches as far as CGI is concerned.  The undersea world of Finding Nemo is an incredible wonder to behold.  In fact, I'll bet the underwater sequences in this film could have been rendered with even more photo-realism, but that they held back in the interest of style.  As for characters, we've come a long way from relatively simple toys and bugs!  Pixar has filled its digital ocean with every form of sea life imaginable, and has done so with detail that is both whimsical and surprisingly accurate at the same time. 
   
    In the area of storytelling, Finding Nemo has a complexity of character development seldom seen in other animated features.  The film includes the standard themes of friendship, teamwork, and self-esteem, but also tackles such concepts as the trials of parenthood, perseverance in the face of adversity, and even sacrifice for the greater good.  These more mature themes may set Finding Nemo apart from earlier Pixar efforts, but in no way do they detract from the fishy fun!  This is truly a movie for kids and adults alike.
   
    Finally, I must give credit to Albert Brooks, who voiced Marlin, and Ellen DeGeneres, who voiced his unlikely travelling companion, Dori.  Yes, it's a cartoon, and I'm mentioning acting performances!  Brooks and DeGeneres both have flawless comic timing, and combined, the results are pure magic.  In fact, as with all Pixar films, the writing and acting is of such high quality that this movie would be entertaining even without the incredible animation!
  
    So, while I had no doubt that the super-geniuses at Pixar would deliver on this one, Finding Nemo still surpassed my every expectation!  Is there nothing these guys can't do?  If so, give them a week or two and they'll figure it out!  Finding Nemo is an absolute classic.  Don't let it be the one that got away!
Directed By:  Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Written By:  Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds
Starring:  the vocal talents of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould,
Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Austin Pendleton. Stephen Root
Vicki Lewis, Joe Ranft, Geoffrey Rush, Andrew Stanton, Elizabeth Perkins
MPAA:  Rated G for General Audiences
Finding Nemo
In association with Amazon.com
Review published
June 10, 2003
A.J.'s Rating:  4.5 Starfish
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