A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Finding Nemo

August 6, 2010

Finding Nemo

Shark week is winding down here for A and A. We’ve watched all the movies we had purchased specifically to review this week. We had a couple other movie ideas, but never got around to buying them. (Certainly by this time next year we’ll have another seven shark movies ready.) So we went through our collection and decided that since it features sharks (amongst the many other examples of aquatic life) it fulfilled the spirit of Shark Week.

I haven’t watched Finding Nemo in about six years. Since my days managing a Suncoast Video. I remember putting it in to play on the monitors in the store and, over the course of several days, watching it in bits and starts. Having a movie playing repeatedly in the background while you work can be a very strange way to take in a film. I’d look up from time to time and watch some of the action, but I’d always be distracted by chores or customers, so I had to sort of assemble the movie in my head from these clips and snippets. A film like this one is particularly suited to constantly interrupted viewing, what with its episodic nature. I did finally buy the movie and watch it through from start to end, of course, and was quite pleased with myself that I pretty much understood how everything fit together.

Finding Nemo is an odyssey story. That is to say – it is a tale of a great journey and of the many trials our hero must overcome before he can reach his goal. In general such stories are thin on plot, but they make for a great way to explore a character in detail and allow the hero to experience some realization about themselves. (I’m making parallels in my mind right now with the Wizard of Oz, which we do not own.) This quest is of the exceptionally nervous Marlin, a clown fish voiced by Albert Brooks at his most neurotic, who’s son Nemo is abducted by divers on his home reef. So Marlin sets out to cross the ocean in search of his son. Along the way he meets Dory, a hopelessly optimistic fish with no short-term memory. Naturally the pairing of a perpetually naive fool with a dour and broken pessimist works quite well to bring a lot of fun to their adventures together. They encounter sharks, mines, jellyfish, sea-turtles, a whale… just a huge series of trials.

At the same time we have Nemo in a fish tank being befriended by a fun crew of oddballs in what turns out to be a kind of Great Escape type heist film. The two stories are nicely inter-cut so that we see both of them simultaneously. My only complaint, and I think this might have been deliberate, is that because Nemo and Marlin look pretty much identical I was often confused during scene changes as to which fish I was looking at.

What makes this movie special to me, and what I was amazed by all over again as I watched it for the first time in six or seven years, is what an incredibly lush and colorful movie this is. In my opinion this movie marks a turning point for Pixar. It was at about this point in the studio’s evolution that they proved that they effectively no longer had any technical restrictions on their vision. Anything that they could dream up they could now bring to the screen. This movie is filled with astonishing vistas right from the very start. It starts with a fish-eye view of a coral reef, and it’s so alive, so full of color and activity, and so brightly colored that it brings joy to me just to watch it.

There is some truly brilliant animation in this film too. Watch the way that Bruce, the reformed shark, is animated. He has this fantastic snagletoothed mouth full of teeth, but he also has a lot of flesh around it, and the way the animators make his body almost flow around his mouth is very cool. Then there’s the hilarious animation when Dory is speaking “whale” later in the film. They take Ellen DeGeneres’ line delivery (which is funny enough to start with) and get some of the best laughs in the film as the character distorts her face in all kinds of great ways.

This movie has all those things that make Pixar films so great. It’s not just the fantastic design, the great animation and the careful attention to detail. It’s the gentle humor, the honest heart, the adventure and joy. It boggles my mind that year after year these people continue to crank out such stellar films. I don’t know how they continue to do it, but I begin to suspect that some form of mind control is involved. I can’t help loving any film that has Luxo Jr. in the opening.

August 6, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | ,

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