Pixar's successful Toy Story films imagined alternate universes where children's greatest fantasies came to life. Monsters, Inc. went one further by contemplating a more symbiotic relationship between children and their nightmares. Pixar's latest, Finding Nemo, lacks both this element of fantasy—it's fish, not the toys or monsters inside your child's closet that do the talking—or anything remotely as stirring as the free-thinking procedural that dignified the adorable A Bug's Life. Finding Nemo merely transplants human suburban anxiety to an underwater realm. Marlin (Albert Brooks) loses his wife and children and is forced to raise young Nemo (Alexander Gould) by his lonesome. When the young clownfish with the gimp fin is "kidnapped" by a group of fisherman (!) during his first day of school (!!), Marlin tries to find him with the help of a schizophrenic (!!!) blue tang fish named Dory (a hysterical Ellen Degeneres, possibly channeling ex-girlfriend-space-cadet Anne Heche). While Nemo tries to negotiate his escape from a dentist's fish tank, Marlin and Dory swim to Sydney but not without running into whales, surfer turtles, underwater explosions, jellyfish and sharks (here, addicts trying not to eat fish). The attention to detail is startling but the film lacks the wit of A Bug's Life and has a way of trivializing the growth process that better Pixar films have endeared and mystified. Finding Nemo is about trusting your children enough to let them make their own mistakes. It's a simple lesson, but for any overprotective parent whose ever had issues with their kids taking the car out at night, this adorable, inoffensive creation should hit closer to home.
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Just remarkable. Doesn't quite top what the folks at Buena Vista Home Entertainment did on the Monsters, Inc. DVD, but this is a breathtaking transfer nonetheless. Kids will think there's an underwater world right inside their television. (Editor's Note: That is, of course, if they're retarded.)
The first disc contains the widescreen version of the film, which is the preferred way to go if you're a smart parent. Next is an excellent 25-minute making-of featurette, which explores the psychological impact scuba diving had on the film's animators and how a dog's eyes were used as a reference point when drawing the eyes of the fish in the film. The visual commentary track by Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton and co-writer Bob Petersen is not exactly thought-provoking, but their passion makes for an easy sit. Because deleted scenes, recorded sessions, storyboards and numerous other featurettes have been worked into the commentary track, this should make for a truly unique experience for kids. Rounding out the first disc are four design galleries and virtual aquariums. The second disc contains the full screen version of the film and begins with an introduction from the film's directors. This is essentially the kiddie-friendly department: explore the reef with Jean-Michel Costeau and numerous characters from the film; take a glimpse at the early Pixar short Knick Knack (with optional commentary) and preview next year's The Incredibles; play "Fisharades" and enjoy "Storytime"; and take a tour of Pixar Studios. Most impressive is Mr. Ray's Encyclopedia, which will give you information about thirteen fish featured in the film. Rounding out the disc is a publicity section containing Finding Nemo trailers, teasers, and "fishy facts" promos, and more trailers for Home on the Range, Lion King 1 1/2 and Santa Clause 2.
Not as meaty as last year's Monsters, Inc. DVD but certainly nowhere near as exhausting.