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"Finding Nemo"

Directed by Andrew Stanton.
Written by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds.
Starring the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen Degeneres and Alexander Gould.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  6/13/03 


My friend Laurel dropped me a line earlier in the week--

“Have you seen ‘Finding Nemo’ yet?  I can’t find anyone to see it with me!”

I was having a problem getting psyched up to see the new Pixar/Disney film, but having someone push me to see it got me over the top.  I just wasn’t as excited to see “Finding Nemo” as I have been in the recent past, with “Monsters, Inc.” and “Toy Story 2” being much more intriguing to me than a bunch of fish hangin’ out.  But, then I got to the theater and gave it a roll...and, “Finding Nemo” is a solid entry that will assuredly contend for the Best Animated Film Oscar next spring.  (Can’t wait for the Academy to eliminate this category--so friggin’ ridiculous.  Academy, just admit that you wanted to give “Shrek” an Oscar for ANYTHING and then let it go away!!)

A clown fish named Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) loses all of his 400 kids and his wife in a fish accident at the start of the film...except for one lucky child that escaped unharmed and unhatched named Nemo (Alexander Gould).  Raising his son with all the love of two parents, Marlin takes Nemo off to school one day only to lose him to a fishing expedition from Sydney, and spends the rest of the film trying to find his only love.  With the help of an eerily-“Memento”-like sidekick (Ellen Degeneres), Marlin goes on an incredible underwater adventure full of fish, fish, and even more friggin’ fish.

Like all of the Pixar productions, adults can easily enjoy the banter going on between Marlin and his many new friends just as much as the kids.  The film is just beautiful to look at, and I didn’t even see the film on a digital projector.  Definitely a film to be enjoyed on the big screen, but if you have a $7000 plasma TV at home (all one of you...J, you lucky dog) you can probably wait until the DVD comes out around Thanksgiving.  The voice work is quite good, there are lots of great laughs (I lost it during the sequence when the fish tank crew “initiates” Nemo into their clan, with the starfish screaming out “There must be another way!  He’s just so YOUNG!!”) and the main action sequences are pretty cool.

The film runs WAY too long, though, and when I walk into a cartoon feature film I expect it to take 90 minutes or less, no exceptions.  At 100 minutes, that extra ten minutes felt looooooong and it doesn’t help that your scenery doesn’t really change all that much; the fish may be well animated but looking at the water for that long got to me after a while.  The other distraction--and, it became major at times--was the reliance of the script on the short-term-memory character, Dory, to provide laughs when things get slow.  The fact that she remembers nothing was quite funny at first, and whenever she got Nemo’s name wrong.  But, by the time she was playing the game with Marlin where she made him guess who is “orange, small, white stripes” for the fourth time, I was as annoyed as Marlin was.

But, like I said, strong stuff.  Not nearly the echelon of “Toy Story 2” (slightly better than the first one), but Pixar has another winner in “Finding Nemo.”  This summer has really provided some good mainstream films so far this year--oh, wait, we’ve got “Dumb and Dumberer” AND “Hollywood Homicide” this weekend!  Smell that?  Is that a Hard Vice around the corner??

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09