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    You WIll Need To Reset Your Password!!!

    We just moved hosts on this system, and this has caused a few updates. One is the way we encode and store the encoded passwords.

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    Dave Koch
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"Nemo" Finds Real Depth in Characters

Discussion in 'The Animated Word' started by Dave Koch, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

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    nemo2.jpg This is what I would call a "family film." Not just because it's kid-friendly, although it certainly is that. And not just because it's colorful and animated, even though the film is most certainly both of those to the highest quality. It's because Finding Nemo aims to prove a point to both children and their parents on familial issues. As a long-time Pixar watcher (and fan), I was most surprised at how much the film seemed to stay on track on the points it aims to make. Their previous film, Monsters, Inc., was also a fun and sweet story, but while it had sharp, witty dialogue, those funny lines tended to detract from the seriousness of the situation of the film. Not so, here.

    This is all the more striking in that Pixar's in-house wordsmith Andrew Stanton is the driving soul behind this entire production. As Pixar's main screenwriter since Toy Story, he's been responsible for much of the great dialogue in Pixar films; now that he gets his hand on the wheel, he steers it away from the very thing that he's been known for. Not to say this film is poorly written; far from it, in fact, and there are some great snippets of dialogue throughout the whole thing. But the film derives more of its comedy from its characters than its dialogue. Nemo is very much like--well, it's very much like an Albert Brooks film.

    Brooks, you may know, is himself a talented writer-director and a fearless explorer of neurotic characters in such films as Lost in America and Defending Your Life. Here he plays Marlin, the film's main character, and he delivers on all fronts. Brooks's presence seems to have permeated the whole film, which delivers its themes and develops its characters in a much more subtle manner than we are accustomed to, even in previous Pixar films. In fact, the film's main theme--a parent's fear for a child's safety--is communicated almost by osmosis. For instance, the pairing with Dory, Ellen Degeneres's delightfully bubble-headed blue tang, might at first seem like an attempt towards eventual romance. As the film develops, though, it becomes clear that Marlin, in searching for his lost son, has unwittingly stumbled into another parent-child relationship: Dory's dependence on Marlin parallels Nemo's. But because Marlin thinks of Dory as an adult (to a certain extent), he expects more of her. Without the film ever explicitly saying so, Marlin eventually realizes that he should grant the same leverage to his son that he does to his loopy companion.

    The trailers have been kind enough not to reveal much about Nemo's half of the story, and I will respect that. I will say this: Willem Dafoe is so good that he's well past atonement for Speed 2: Cruise Control; we're at the point where we can erase it from his resumé and pretend it never happened.

    The film can be episodic for the sake of having a cute episode. I can't think of a segment I disliked, but there are a couple of moments that seemed to exist solely for their own sake.

    This film is a visual feast. Back in the days of Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc., I called Pixar's animation "effortlessly brilliant." I no longer feel that's an accurate description, because nothing can look this good without great, heaping gobs of effort. They go by the old Chuck Jones byline of "only the love should show," but there's no denying that these guys work long and hard to make their stuff look utterly flawless. This is also the first Pixar film to come without the touch of Randy Newman, and it's better for it. Thomas Newman gives the film a much more unique musical flavor than the previous films, and it fits the project perfectly. Pixar stuck with their old friend Gary Rydstrom for sound, though, and it sounds beautiful, especially all the electrical squeaks during the jellyfish sequence. Seeing the film on the big screen does it a great deal of justice, and so I wholeheartedly recommend that you not wait for it to hit your home theater set-up.

    This review originally appeared at Toon Zone.

    Update: The film has recently been released on home video and DVD, and the DVD release is of the standard one comes to expect of Pixar films. The transfer is dead-on with both sound and picture, a particular plus for a film like this, and it boasts the standard strong variety between a few kid-oriented extras (not so necessary) and behind-the-scenes segments that prove that the people working at Pixar are, for a fact, having more fun than any of us are. My opinion of the film has increased upon my rewatch; no longer does the minor quibble of a slightly episodic nature even register to me. Rather, each scene seems to connect in some way, and the film remains a brilliant journey for all involved. My rating has thus gone up half a star to a full four-star rating, and it is sure to have a place on my favorite films of the year.

    Four (****) stars out of four (****)


    A critique by Alex Weitzman

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