Finding Nemo (G)

Animation 101 September 14, 2012
By Jim Ridley
More deftly than classic Disney, Pixar's wonderful animated features tap into the primal terrors of both children and parents, from fear of the dark (Monsters, Inc.) to fear of being forgotten as a child grows older (Toy Story 2). But while the kids' fears are alleviated (that monster in the closet is really a snuggly ol' teddy bear), parents get a shrug at best, as in this delightful but darker-textured undersea adventure. Separation anxiety--a parent's--is the subject of Finding Nemo, which begins with traumatic loss and ends with open-eyed acceptance of the world's dangers. After losing his mate and his eggs, the neurotic clownfish Marlin (voiced to perfection by Albert Brooks) nervously guards his surviving small fry, a wriggly little adventurer named Nemo (Alexander Gould), who chafes under his dad's constant worrying. The two have a spat, and the worst happens: Little Nemo is captured by divers and placed in a dentist's aquarium. As Nemo plots escape with a scarred tank dweller (Willem Dafoe), and Marlin faces danger with a ditzy gill-breather (Ellen DeGeneres), the story zips along on parallel currents toward another of Pixar's breathless Rube Goldberg climaxes. The creative team mines every joke from the underwater settings, the colorful cast of sea critters, and a neat parody of Rififi-style caper logistics involving the aquarium's air filter. But the underlying messages are sharply unsentimental: Tragedy is a fact of life, experience comes at a price, and a parent's cautious shielding isn't always enough. If Finding Nemo features Pixar's scariest images yet, it also has the most elegant and shimmering ones, from gently undulating anemones to billowing jellyfish. In Disney, the screen is a canvas to be filled corner to corner with paint; Pixar's pictures are a window onto a world that extends beyond the frame--not a difference of aesthetics so much as it is a difference of philosophy. The excellent voice cast includes Allison Janney, Geoffrey Rush, Eric Bana, Barry Humphries, and writer-director Andrew Stanton as a turtle named Crush. (Jim Ridley)
Andrew Stanton Erica Beck, Albert Brooks, Willem Dafoe, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Garrett Andrew Stanton Graham Walters Walt Disney Pictures


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