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A whale of a fish story

Jeet Thayil | June 07, 2003 13:49 IST

Pixar -- the animation studio that produced Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Monsters Inc -- is used to making movies that debut at Number One. Even by those standards, Finding Nemo is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. It opened with the biggest debut ever for an animated film -- $70.6 million.

Marlin and Dory in Finding NemoI can completely understand those numbers. Sitting in a theatre in Manhattan on opening day -- surrounded by children of varying ages, accompanied by adults of varying ages -- it was obvious that the movie had the heft to hook just about any age group.

Of the many amazing sea creatures that keep Nemo afloat, you may want to pay special attention to Crush, a 150-year-old sea turtle with a 'stoner dude' outlook on life. Andrew Stanton, the movie's director, gives Crush his pitch-perfect voice. The easy-going turtle is a pleasure to watch, and not just for kids.

In fact, the movie is a triumph of voices. There is the timid clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks), whose search for his defiant son takes him across the ocean and gives Finding Nemo its emotional core. There is Dori (Ellen Degeneres), a blue tang with severe short-term memory loss, who Marlin hangs with.

Brooks and Degeneres work wonderfully together. They bring such verve and exuberance to their work that it lifts the movie into another level. Their voices are matched by unbelievably precise animation work as facial expression and tone are perfectly married.

Marlin and Dori search the ocean with only one clue as to where Nemo (Alexander Gould) may be -- a scuba diver's mask with a Sydney address. The address belongs to a dentist with an aquarium full of fish, some of whom have gone stir crazy from being confined for so long.

Only one, a sombre fish named Gill (Willem Dafoe), is desperate enough to hatch plans for escape both for himself and for young Nemo. Gill is another triumph. Even without seeing the credits, I could recognise Dafoe's voice. He
makes Gill utterly charismatic, a kind of hero fish.

There are moments, as you listen to the trapped fish make their escape plans, that Finding Nemo takes on the hue of an earlier genre -- the prison escape movie. But Nemo updates it with irresistibly modern humour that mostly satirises contemporary culture.

Marlin is a clown fish who is not very good at telling jokes. He keeps trying to tell one about a sea cucumber, except that he botches the punch line. In one terrifying sequence, three sharks listen to Marlin with rapt faces that sag with boredom as they realise that this clown fish is really not very funny.

When Marlin finally succeeds in finding his son, somewhere in the vast depths of Sydney harbour, he returns to the Great Barrier Reef as a genuine oceanic hero to the other fish. He is finally able to tell the joke and actually make it funny. Nobody is happier than Nemo, his son.

It may be a coincidence that Finding Nemo was released around the same time as Father's Day -- but the timing is more than fortuitous. Nemo and Marlin -- with their separation anxiety, defiance, and redemptive love -- embody a father and son tale that any father and son can relate to.

Cast: Alexander Gould, Erica Beck, Geoffrey Rush, Willem Dafoe, Albert Brooks
Director: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Graham Walters

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Number of User Comments: 4

Sub: comment

It is nice movie.

Posted by parixit_khatri_india

Sub: nice movie

i m 23, i was in theatre to c this movie and i was sorrounded by kids in the was a entertaining movie, loved ...

Posted by gary turner

Sub: When do we find nemo in india

A promising movie, specially for the animated buff. When do we see it in india??

Posted by Deepa Mandal

Sub: lovely an touchin story..

after a long time a nice story for the whole fly. its really touchin to know that such movies r still bein made thanx to ...

Posted by pretty


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