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Pixar reels in the big fish

Amanda Susko | Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Heartfelt sorrow, uncontrollable laughter. genuine surprise and utter joy. The quest to find the adorable clownfish Nemo guarantees to invoke a rollercoaster ride of emotions in viewers of all ages.Within the opening minutes, Pixar’s spectacular underwater animation assures yet another blockbuster hit for Disney. Moreover, it is virtually impossible not to fall in love with the energetic and determined Nemo, hindered by his impaired tiny fin.As if the high-quality animation and delightful main character are not enough, the marine life voices further intensify Finding Nemo’s appeal. Nine-year-old Alexander Gould effortlessly portrays the boyish voice of Nemo himself. Albert Brooks articulates Marlin, Nemo’s overprotective and worrisome father, with ease. A hilarious addition to the cast is Ellen DeGeneres, who flawlessly depicts the extremely forgetful Dory, a blue tang.Additional sea creatures include an intimidating great white shark named Bruce (Barry Humphries), Nigel the helpful pelican (Geoffrey Rush), the surfer turtle Crush (Andrew Stanton), the battle-scared Gill (Willem Dafoe), and Bloat the blowfish (Brad Garrett). Overall, Disney’s animation team hand-selected a brilliant cast who generated authentic life within the characters of Finding Nemo.Quirky comments and hilarious scenes abound in this Disney/Pixar creation. Topping my list of favorites include two unforgettable moments involving three looming sharks and a mirage of sea turtles.Just as it seems imminent that Marlin and Dory are doomed to become the next shark snack, the great white Bruce surprisingly welcomes the pair into a type of hidden fortress. There, a spin on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting ensues. Bruce approaches the stand and proudly confesses, “It has been three weeks since my last fish.” Within this scene, the shark threesome repeats the following mantra: “Fish are friends, not food.” A frightening incident soon follows in which Marlin and Dory escape from the blood-hungry Bruce and continue towards their destination of Sydney to find Nemo.After escaping from the sharks and bounding through a swarm of jellyfish, Marlin and Dory find themselves riding the East Atlantic Current with a multitude of laid-back sea turtles. Marlin is quickly greeted by one sea turtle, in particular, who tranquilly proclaims, “Dude, Mr. Turtle is my father; the name’s Crush.” In this scene, the sea turtles, young and old alike, add surfer humor with repeated phrases such as “sweet,” “totally rocked,” “righteous” and “coo coo ca choo.”The box office tallies further indicate the success of Finding Nemo. To date, the film remains unsurpassable as the top movie released in 2003. During its debut weekend in May, Finding Nemo grossed over $70 million. If that is not impressive enough, its worldwide box office total currently amounts to close to half a billion dollars. And wait … there’s more. Among the top movies of 2003, Finding Nemo rises above such smash hits as Pirates of the Caribbean, Matrix Reloaded, Bruce Almighty and X2 to round out the top five.The DVD bonus features make Finding Nemo a must-see spectacle. These features include a documentary on the making of the movie, virtual commentary, design galleries and virtual aquariums. Particularly, the documentary piece is quite fascinating. This section provides behind-the-scene footage about the collaborative process among writers, editors, directors, designers, sculptors and animators to create the final version of Finding Nemo.The enjoyable characters, remarkable animation and astronomical box office totals are promises that viewers of any age will fall in love with Finding Nemo. All in all, I highly recommend Disney’s uplifting tale of fish life in the crystal blue ocean depths.