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Finding Nemo ****
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Featuring the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, William Dafoe
Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich


     Pixar is nearing the end of their contract with Disney, who hasn't really been all that successful of late without the computer animation company.  Remember "Treasure Island" from last November?  How about "Dinosaur" from the summer of 2000?  These were attempts by Disney to make computer animated films or computer-traditional hybrid films.  "Island" bombed, while "Dinosuar" made a modest for Disney sum of 137 million dollars.  Pixar brought Disney millions from its four previous films, "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," "Toy Story 2," and 'Monsters, Inc.."  "Lilo and Stitch" was a financial success for Disney, but it did not make the blockbuster bucks that the studio made with its colaborations with Pixar.  If Pixar bolts, it might just take its brilliance and money with it.
     "Finding Nemo," the studio's fifth full length feature, is another masterpiece.  All Pixar films have blended clever wit with memorable characters, and "Nemo" is no exception.  It may be the second-best film that the studio has made next to the classic "Toy Story." 
     "Nemo" has enough humor to keep adults chuckling, while holding the child audience captive with fun visuals and funny lines.  The story details the lives of Marlin and Nemo, father and son clown fish living in the ocean and serving as our hosts to a wide range of great characters.  We learn early on that Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is a single parent after the unfortunate death of his wife, Coral.  The family's eggs were lost in the same fiasco, save for one, Nemo.  The terrible event has made Marlin highly neurotic and extremely protective of his only offspring.
     The action picks up when Nemo has his first day of school, during which he is taken captive by a scuba diving dentist.  This prompts Marlin to set out on a ocean-wide search for his son.
     Along the way, Marlin meets an absent-minded fish by the name of Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres).  She proves to be the funniest character and the source of the funniest on going gag.  The two fish find clues and helpful ocean dwellers on their search for Nemo.
     Meanwhile, Nemo is placed in the dentist's office tank, home to a whole bevy of funny aquatic life, including Gill (William Dafoe), Bloat (Brad Garrett of TV's "Everybody Loves Raymond), Peach (Allison Janney), and Jacques (Joe Ranft), and Bubbles (Stephen Root).  Oscar nominee Geoffrey Rush's voice also shows up in the form of office regular Nigel.  It's within the dentist's office that much of the film's humor and imagination take center stage.
     Like most Pixar films, "Nemo" contains easy to understand messages for kids and adults about confronting your fears and relationships.  The film is honest and caring in its presentation of these issues and makes a real effort to be funny AND meaningful. 
     The script is very smart and funny.  The visuals are fantastic.  What's not to love?

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