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PCR # 167  (Vol. 4, No. 23)  This edition is for the week of June 2--8, 2003.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Finding Nemo"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars!

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Buena Vista/PIXAR Entertainment     
Starring the voices of: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe and Barry Humphries
Directed by: Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
Rated: G
Running Time: 1 hour 32 mins

Having tackled toys, bugs and monsters in their previous films, the folks at PIXAR have now taken on the vastness of the ocean and the results are incredible. Eight years removed from the first "Toy Story" film, the wonders of computer assisted animation continue to amaze. But it is the story and performances in "Finding Nemo" that make it easily one of the best family films in years.

The story begins with Marlin and Coral, two clown fish who are expecting their first child. Make that children. Overlooking the vast field of ready to hatch eggs, Marlin suggests naming half of them Marlin, Jr. and the other half Coral, Jr. But Coral insists that one of them be named Nemo. Sadly, in the tradition of "Bambi" and "The Lion King," a tragedy occurs.

The story then takes us to the first day of school. Marlin is wary of Nemo starting school. Born with a smaller fin on his right side then on his left, Marlin is obviously over-protective. However, Nemo convinces his dad that he's ready and off they journey. Meeting the other "parents," Marlin is constantly asked to tell a joke since, as a clown fish, he must be funny. Sadly, the only routine Marlin knows concerns a mollusk and a sea cucumber and isn't very funny at all. Soon, the school takes a field trip and Marlin is aghast to find out that the trip is to the edge of the reef they live on...............out to the open ocean. In a panic, Marlin tries to stop the trip but arrives just to see Nemo and some other young fish challenging each other to touch the bottom of a boat they have come across. Marlin forbids Nemo to try it and in defiance Nemo swims right up to the boat, not paying attention to the scuba diver who quickly nets him and takes him from the water. Destination: the fish tank of a local Sydney dentist.

The majority of the film concern's Marlin's search for his son. Along the way, he comes across a variety of undersea creatures including sea turtles, sharks and jellyfish. He also comes across a blue tang named Dory. A happy, helpful fish, Dory sadly suffers from short memory loss. One minute she's leading Marlin through the water, the next she screams at him to stop following her. As voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, Dory comes to life in a way that few animated characters ever have. In fact, this is the greatest pairing of voice to character since Eddie Murphy pretty much stole "Shrek" from Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz.

Albert Brooks is the voice of Marlin. A funny filmmaker in his own right, he does a good job with the very emotional role. Crush, the sea turtle who helps the fish on their quest, is voiced by director Stanton in just the right "surfer dude" voice. And Barry Humphries is spot on perfect as Bruce, the great white shark (a great homage to "Jaws") who is leading his fellow sharks in a "fish are friends, not food" program. Think Alcoholic Anonymous for sharks and you get the idea. When one shark tries to stray, the ensuing "intervention" is hilarious.

Story aside, this is one of the most beautiful films I have seen. It is amazing how well technology can capture and portray the beautiful hues of the ocean, with the blue of the water contrasting off of the various many-colored fish. A scene where Marlin and Dory swim through an area overpopulated by pink, transparent jelly fish makes it seem like they are floating through a cotton candy sky. Great vocal work is also a main ingredient of any PIXAR film and "Finding Nemo" carries on the tradition. Gould is suitably childish as Nemo, his voice full of both wonder and fear at what he experiences. Of the many fish that occupy his tank, Willem Dafoe excels as Gill, another ocean fish that yearns to escape.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Finding Nemo"  

This week's movie review of "Finding Nemo" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2003, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.