Fish aren’t cuddly. The scales, the smell and the cold blooded nature of the species make them difficult to hug, let alone curl up with. That perception will likely change with the release of Finding Nemo, a film that will do for fish what Babe did for pigs. That is, make them seem like something more than just an accompaniment for French fries.
Pixar, (in co-operation with Disney) the clever animators behind Toy Story and Monsters Inc, are back with a story about a young clownfish named Nemo (Alexander Gould) who gets separated from Marlin (Albert Brooks), his over protected father. With the help of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a blue fish with short term memory loss, Marlin desperately searches for his son. In the process he learns about himself and love while risking life and fin to find his son.
The story is typical Disney claptrap, a tale that hits the same emotional buttons that have marked kid’s films since Bambi was a fawn. But it’s not the story that recommends Finding Nemo and makes it the achievement that it is.
The script is tight and quite funny (although in a more subtle way than previous Pixar creations) but it is the visuals that overwhelm. The computer geeks at Pixar have imbued their undersea world with such feeling and splendour that it is hard to believe it isn’t real, that it is, in fact, nothing more than cleverly arranged binary code. The colours and textures of the sea literally come alive on the screen and show a real eye for detail. Particularly eye-popping is the jelly-fish sequence, a beautifully realized scene in which Marlin and Dory must navigate their way through a school of opaque stinging sea creatures.
Albert Brooks heads the cast as Marlin. He’s neurotic, not unlike many of the characters Brooks has played before, but is charmingly so. This may be his best role since Broadcast News. When he deadpans that, despite the name, clownfish aren’t really all that funny, you know the part was written for him. Ellen DeGeneres brings considerable charm to the scatterbrained Dory, while Willem Dafoe and Geoffrey Rush also contribute voices.
Finding Nemo is more than just a technical marvel; it is a computer animated film that transcends the animation to become a film which will engage the heart as well as the mind.