out of Five
Running time: 104
Fin-tastic - hilarious, moving and beautiful to look at, this is another instant classic from the makers of Toy Story, Monsters Inc etc.
Fans of Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, and Monsters Inc will not be surprised to learn that animation wizards Pixar have done it again, combining razor-sharp comic writing with note-perfect vocal performances and state of the art animation to produce the best family comedy of the year.
Indeed, at the time of writing, Finding Nemo had already surpassed The Lion King at the US box office to become, officially, Disney’s biggest ever hit. And it hasn’t even opened here yet.
Neurotic Single-Parent Clown Fish
Albert Brooks stars as neurotic single-parent clown fish Marlin, who’s
worried about sending his only son Nemo (Alexander Gould) off to school
because “the world is a scary, dangerous place”. His fears are justified when Nemo accidentally gets himself fish-napped and winds up in a dentist’s aquarium overlooking Sydney Harbour. So, with the aid of a friendly-but-memory-impaired blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), Marlin sets off across the Great Barrier Reef to rescue his son.
Meanwhile, Nemo finds that his time in the aquarium is running out, so he and the other colourful characters in the tank come up with a Great
As always, the character work is terrific. Brooks and DeGeneres are both slightly annoying in their live-action roles (would you pay to see a movie that starred the two of them?), yet they’re perfect here. DeGeneres, in particular, is wonderful – it’s amazing how many hilarious gags are wrung from the short-term memory joke alone.
There’s great support, too, from Barry Humphries and Eric Bana (as sharks in a non-meat-eating support group), Willem Dafoe (as Gill, the wizened leader of the aquarium escape team) and Geoffrey Rush (as Nigel The Friendly Pelican), not to mention John ‘Cliff from Cheers’ Ratzenberger, who plays an entire shoal of fish who all speak with the same voice. The ‘Ratzenberger Fish’, if you will.
Pixar Triumph Again
We’ve come to expect high standards from Pixar in the animation department and once again they’ve outdone themselves, creating an entire new world and filling it with bright colours and a wealth of background detail that’s sure to be missed on a first viewing. And, while it’s true that fish won’t necessarily make the best tie-in toys, don’t be surprised if pet stores experience a run on tropical fish this Christmas.
Essentially, Finding Nemo has everything: colourful characters, great lines (“You know, for a clown fish, you’re not very funny”) and a non-stop flow of terrific gags as well as lots of lovely little moments such as the Kung Fu crab. There are also enough over-the-heads-of-the-kids gags to keep adults happy, as well as plenty of film in-jokes and references to movies such as Jaws, Psycho and The Birds (the seagulls gags are priceless).
In short, this is unmissable entertainment of the first water. Given the cod-awful nature of some of this summer’s other movies, it’s a surprise this wasn’t released earlier but it will shoal-ly be perch-ed at the number one spot before too long. Highly recommended.