Finding Nemo - Movie Review
by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: ****

A home run for Pixar who is batting 1,000 in terms of family entertainment.

Directed By: Andrew Stanton

Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Andrew Stanton, Barry Humphries, Geoffrey Rush

Written By:

Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds

Rated: G
Running Time: 1 hr : 41 min
Scripture References:

Job 3:25, Proverbs 22:6, 1 John 4:18

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Pixar Animation Studios continues its incredible run of excellent family features with a "fish-in-the-water" tale that leaves their previous work wallowing in its wake. No small feat considering their previous films include both Toy Stories, A Bug's Life, and Monsters Inc. Their newest film, Finding Nemo, is a brilliantly realized film containing amazing animation, an emotionally rewarding story, and some of the funniest vocal characterizations ever recorded.

Nemo (voiced by nine-year-old Alexander Gould, They) is a young clown fish with a malformed fin who lives on The Great Barrier Reef, safe within his sea anemone home. His father, Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks, The In-Laws), is a neurotic, overprotective single parent who has difficulty letting Nemo swim free because he knows, from tragic experience, how dangerous the ocean can be.

When Nemo defies his father's instructions, he is captured by a scuba diver looking for a new addition to an Australian dentist's aquarium. Marlin, despite his fears of the open ocean, frantically goes off in search of his son.

He quickly meets and befriends Dory, an eternally optimistic and perky blue tang who suffers from short term memory loss. Together they face such dangers and adversities as shark attacks (from sharks involved in a 12-step program to curb their feeding frenzies) and a jellyfish forest.

Meanwhile, young Nemo is finding that life inside a tank has many drawbacks. The fish who have been there too long have developed strange personality quirks. One is obsessed with the bubbles coming from the treasure chest aerator. Another believes her reflection in the glass to be an annoying twin sister. They are "led" by the sullen, scar-faced Gil (Willem Dafoe, Auto Focus) who takes a liking to the spunky clown fish and includes him in his latest daring escape plan.

Pixar excels in developing multidimensional characters and relationships which they use to drive their story forward and provide depth and substance to their imaginative tale. Every character, no matter how briefly they appear, has a reason for being there and adds to the overall impact of the film.

The voices are also extremely well cast. Barry Humphries is a stitch as a shark trying (unsuccessfully) to remember that "fish are friends, not food." Director Andrew Stanton (A Bug's Life) lends his voice to Crush, the old, wise, and radically hip sea turtle who helps Marlin and Dory catch a ride on the EAC (that's East Australian Current, dude.)

Alexander Gould is properly young and enthusiastic as Nemo while Albert Brooks' pained and put upon persona translates well to a neurotically fearful fish. But it is Ellen DeGenerate who swims away with this picture. Her work as a forgetful fish with an upbeat attitude is priceless and generates oceans of laughs.

In Finding Nemo, Marlin must learn the same lesson which Job once learned. Fear is a negative form of believing and believing will always bring results... even negative ones.

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. Job 3:25 (KJV)

It is natural for a parent to want to protect his child from harm. But we cannot shelter them forever. We must teach them, train them, and then trust them to act wisely and safely in this unsafe place we call the world.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

The greatest thing a parent can do for their child is to prepare him to embrace life fully - using all the resources that God has given us.

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