Having been thwarted on our attempts to shoot the Elora Gorge by inner tube, Michael, Rosemarie, Erin and I were heading home. We weren't particularly hungry, but we weren't particularly interested in holing up in our non-air conditioned place at the time. Surely, there was something we could do in Kitchener to occupy our early evening hours until the temperatures started to drop. I suggested that we go see Finding Nemo.
I've generally avoided the Disney film franchise, but I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of anything with Pixar's label to it. This is because Pixar is not Disney. Disney just supplies the marketing; by and large, Pixar is left free to tell its own story, and it's usually funny, full of subtext and fun references that adults get more than the children, and very well animated.
The story follows Marlin the clownfish (voiced by Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo, who get separated off the coast of Australia thanks to a diving dentist who steals Nemo for his own fishtank. Marlin leaves his cozy and safe home and braves the many dangers of the ocean in order to find his son. He's accompanied by the friendly-but-very-forgetful Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) and helped by a number of other critters as the story of his quest spreads across the ocean. Meanwhile, Nemo and the other fish in his fishtank work to organize an escape, before Nemo is given away as a present to the dentist's fish-killing niece.
The story is classic Pixar, with characterization and animation fueling rapid-fire comedy, but there are also strong, touching moments too. Going into this movie, I had a major suspension of disbelief issue: I knew that fish lay hundreds of eggs, why should Marlin care so strongly about one of his sons? Pixar deftly handled that, explaining Marlin's unfish-like behaviour in the movie's prologue in a scene that's shocking and quite touching. The characters are a little on the simplistic side (Marlin the overprotective father, Nemo the precocious child, Dory the stalwart friend), but the actors and the animators take to them with gusto. Ellen DeGeneres especially livens up Dory and steals every scene her fish is in. Also, watch for William DaFoe's appearance as the caged fish Gill. The movie has an excellent ensemble cast.
The movie doesn't have the rapid-fire delivery of Monsters Inc, but it comes close. There are many genuine belly-laughs to be had, with the scenes dealing with whale talk and the scenes with the seagulls (the most mindless creatures in the movie, whose vocabulary consists of "Mine?" and "Mine!") being highlights. The movie stops in places in order to hammer home the themes for children, but these heavyhanded scenes end quickly and we're back to the action.
If you are at all a fan of animation, and want some intelligence mixed in with a good fun time, I highly recommend Finding Nemo. Bring your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or just bring yourself. Be warned that there will be a bunch of precocious kids in the audience, but if you are young at heart, their energy will contribute to the enjoyment of the movie.
Also included in Finding Nemo is a funny preview of Pixar's next flick, The Incredibles (looks interesting) and a short film made early in Pixar's history (well worth watching). Also, be sure to sit through the credits. Finding Nemo does not have the famous "bloopers" that run at the end of Toy Story and Monsters Inc, but they do contain little touches that reward those who sit and wait.
Also, if you have good bandwidth, go see Pixar's web site right now. You can download and view many short films, and while away your hours with them. It's great stuff!