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.
- Andrew Stanton
- Andrew Stanton
- Albert Brooks, Willem Dafoe, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Garrett, Alexander Gould, Barry Humphries, Allison Janney
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