While children across the country have been boisterously anticipating the arrival of Disney and Pixar’s newest animated film, “Finding Nemo,” adults would also find this film entertaining and a refreshing change from the action-packed summer blockbusters.
“Knick knacks”, a short film created in 1989 begins the moviegoer’s Pixar experience. This comedy is based on the life of the collectibles that pile up on our dressers and desks, focusing mainly on one little unlucky snowman (with whom all those stuck in Michigan can identify) as he longs for the tanned, sunny lifestyle all the other collectibles enjoy outside of his ineludible snow globe.
This ironic and hilarious short film sets the scene for an equally humorous yet much more masterful computer animation. The audience is introduced to Marlin, a clown fish who is extremely protective of his son, Nemo. Marlin is also very much afraid of the ocean and refuses to allow Nemo to traverse away from their home on the coral reef. Of course, Nemo ignores his father’s instructions and swims near a boat, resulting in a heartbreaking moment when the selfish humans capture him. The remaining film follows the adventures of the father and son as they fight sharks and jellyfish, filters and, most importantly, time in a race to reunite.
The cast of the film is unexpected and favorites are easy to identify – Ellen DeGeneres (Dory), writer and director Andrew Stanton (Crush) and Stephen Root (Bubbles) of “NewsRadio” fame provide the voices for the forgetful blue tang, chilled-out sea turtle and bubbles fixated yellow tang, respectively. The diverse cast offers distinctive accents that are interesting to examine, since the characters are fish and it is somewhat confusing as to why they would have accents.
Another impressive aspect of “Nemo” that the animators were able to capture is the varying color schemes, which delineate from the expected blue (well, it’s water and water is usually blue). They even moved away from the typical Disney style of dark equating bad and light representing good, as the fish tank and dentist’s office, both awful homes for fish, are some of the most lighted areas, whereas even the cheery coral reef is sometimes portrayed in dark hues.
It would be wrong to expect a sing-along style Disney film, yet this movie raises the bar for all genres of children’s films. Even those not particularly interested in animation will notice just how realistically the characters are portrayed. The minutia within this film really sticks out; one scene in particular, when Dory and Marlin are stuck within the mouth of a whale, treats the audience to realistic movement as even the bristles in the whale’s mouth seem graceful and active. Pixar’s technical directors have gradually moved toward more realistic animation, starting with the plastic figures in the “Toy Story” series to the fine hairs on the monsters in “Monster’s Inc.” and now to the constant fluidity of the coral reefs and underwater world in “Finding Nemo.”
Rating: 4 1/2 stars.