Rakesh's movie talk
Finding Nemo (2003)

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Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
Written by Andrew Stanton
Featuring the voices of Willem Dafoe, Albert Brooks, Ellen De Generes, Alexander Gould and Geoffrey Rush


I was shocked when looking over MRQE, to find Roger Ebert giving Finding Nemo 4 stars. I would not give that much, probably 2 1/2 or 3, but the review justifies his four star. Here are the excerpts, before I go into my own babble: 

"Finding Nemo" has all of the usual pleasures of the Pixar animation style--the comedy and wackiness of "Toy Story" or "Monsters Inc." or "A Bug's Life." And it adds an unexpected beauty, a use of color and form that makes it one of those rare movies where I wanted to sit in the front row and let the images wash out to the edges of my field of vision.

The Pixar computer animators, led by writer-director Andrew Stanton, create an undersea world that is just a shade murky, as it should be; we can't see as far or as sharply in sea water, and so threats materialize more quickly, and everything has a softness of focus. There is something dreamlike about the visuals of "Finding Nemo," something that evokes the reverie of scuba-diving.

The first scenes in "Finding Nemo" are a little unsettling, as we realize the movie is going to be about fish, not people (or people-based characters like toys and monsters). But of course animation has long since learned to enlist all other species in the human race, and to care about fish quickly becomes as easy as caring about mice or ducks or Bambi.

When I review a movie like "Finding Nemo," I am aware that most members of its primary audience do not read reviews. Their parents do, and to them and adults who do not have children as an excuse, I can say that "Finding Nemo" is a pleasure for grown-ups. There are jokes we get that the kids don't, and the complexity of Albert Brooks' neuroses, and that enormous canvas filled with creatures that have some of the same hypnotic beauty as--well, fish in an aquarium. They may appreciate another novelty: This time the dad is the hero of the story, although in most animation it is almost always the mother.


See what I mean? I concur that this is a good film (yeah right, I am Ebert's boss). It belongs to the golden era of great animation when Disney was cranking out the likes of Bambi, Cinderella and even Mickey Mouse adventures.

Like Ebert, what struck me the most were the canvas and the paining. Mesmerising, simply mesmerising. One moment you are being awed by the overall animation, and in another the details. The knowledge that thousands of animators have worked thousands of hours over it, adds to our amazement. Bravo.

The adventure is that of Little Nemo, a clown fish born with an undersized fin. Like all kids, he is not easy to control and has a curiousity that nearly kills him. His father, Marlin, who had just lost Nemo's siblings (thousands of them in egg form) and mother to a Baraccuda, tends to be overprotective, only triggering Nemo's rebelliousness. Straying away, Nemo is caught by human and ends up in an acquarium somewhere in Sydney. There he befriends fellow prisoners who hatches a plan to escape. The story then looks at how Marlin tracks him down with the help of a few, and how Nemo himself learns the value of strength and understands his father's anxiety.

It could be the usual rescue story, but the way writer and director brings the story forward requires full involvement in our part. Our own emotional attachment to the movie as more than an audience enhances the experience of watching this movie.

I saw this movie with a friend, and I realise I would have been a bad move to watch it alone like I usually do. On a second thought, I might agree with Ebert's rating after all.

Note: Again, it's who's who of Hollywood, the voices behind the animation. You get Albert Brooks, Ellen De Generes, Willem Dafoe and Geoffrey Rush this time.