Back Shelf Beauties
by Willie Waffle

Finding Nemo

Now that X2, The Matrix Reloaded and Bruce Almighty have had huge opening weekends, it's time for the kiddie flicks to flex their muscle. Finding Nemo is the first of 3 major kid-targeted movies coming out over the next few weeks, and it might be the best. Finding Nemo is a good, animated film for the entire family.

Albert Brooks provides the voice for Marlin - a single daddy clown fish living in a coral reef off the coast of Australia who is overprotective of his only son, Nemo (Alexander Gould). He is very reluctant to let his son leave their home and attend school with all of the other fish, but even Marlin can't stop the inevitable.

On his first day at school, Nemo is captured by a deep-sea diving dentist who wants to put the youngster in his fish tank, but Marlin is not about to let his only son go. Along with new found pal, and forgetful fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), Marlin takes off on a wild adventure across the ocean to get his son back.

Will Marlin be reunited with his son?

After seeing Finding Nemo, your child may never want a pet fish ever again. Of course, that's the strength of the film. As the movie goes along, you realize that writer/director Andrew Stanton and the masterful computer graphics folks at Pixar (the company that made Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.) have created realistic, soulful characters that kids and adults will love. Finding Nemo is a tender, exciting, loving film that draws in the audience and makes us root for the little underdogs. We emotionally invest ourselves in the plight of these animated figures, as much as we would the friends and families in our own lives. While the high level of animation skill on display in the film is part of what makes the film real in our eyes, the voice actors deserve much of the credit.

Albert Brooks is wonderful, and displays more life and believability in this cartoon movie than his other summer movie, The In-Laws. I am a huge Brooks fan, so I was looking forward to him kvetching his way through Finding Nemo, but he also pulls at our heartstrings by expressing an earnest, fatherly love. Brooks helps Marlin appear to be a massive hero in this epic tale. You'll also enjoy DeGeneres as the naïve, innocent, forgetful fish whose aim is true and intentions are pure. She has great comedic timing and shares good chemistry with Brooks.

The supporting characters are what make Finding Nemo such a joy. Stanton has done a good job filling the adventure with hilarious visitors that keep the movie fresh and fun. From Bruce the Shark (Barry Humphries) to Nemo's new pal Gill (Willem Dafoe) to Crush the Turtle (Andrew Stanton as the film's best and most memorable character), there are plenty of characters that make the ocean seem like a fun place to be.

Finding Nemo is about ten minutes too long, so I have to take off points for that. The film has a natural, exciting climax, but Stanton decided to draw it out by adding another scene that isn't as satisfying. That aside, Finding Nemo is a good film to check out this weekend. Grade: B+

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