With “Finding Nemo,” the shimmering sea surface, scratches on the lens of a diver’s goggles and smudge marks Nemo the clownfish makes when he mashes his face up against the glass wall of the aquarium that imprisons him all pop off the screen in the 3D re-issue of Pixar’s undisputed masterpiece.
The fish seem to float in between the surface of the screen and the deep blue underwater backgrounds of the South Pacific, an effect even more pronounced in 3D.
Perhaps it’s not enough to warrant shelling out 3D dollars to go see a movie that’s long been one of the best selling home videos. If you have kids, you already have this at home. But “Finding Nemo,” back in theaters nine years after its release, is a reminder that sometimes “instant” and “classic” can go together in a sentence describing a great movie.
And “Finding Nemo” is a great movie, one of the best animations for children ever made.
A timid and over-protective single-dad clownfish (Albert Brooks) overprotects his mildly disabled (shrunken fin) only son (voiced by Alexander Gould) to the point where Nemo foolishly rebels and is promptly snatched and tossed into the tank at an Australian dentist’s office.
Dad flees the comfort of his reefside sea anemonie home, and with the help of a seriously absent-minded blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), sets out to find his son. And the kid, with the help of a tank full of mentors (Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Austin Pendleton), plots his escape to get back to dad.
It’s a simple story, perfectly executed. Especially when it comes to the voices.
Dory, all halting, self-interrupting comical kvetching, was written specifically for DeGeneres and animated around her gestures, steals the movie.
“I suffer from short-term memory loss. It runs in my family… At least I think it does… hm. Where ARE they?”
It’s a grand quest filled with funny, broadly-drawn but wise characters — sea turtles who speak “Surfer Dude”– Australian sharks (Barry Humphries, and see if you recognize Eric Bana) — a plucky pelican (Geoffrey Rush).
And what wonderful messages. No matter what, “Just keep swimming.” “Trust, it’s what friends do.” And kids, “You can’t hold onto them forever.”
So don’t think of “Nemo” as just another 3D conversion. Think of this re-release as an encore, a handy touchstone for you and your kids. “Finding Nemo” was and remains the gold standard against which all other modern animated films are measured, a “classic” from the day it premiered.
MPAA Rating: G
Cast: The voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush, Barry Humphries, Bill Hunter
Credits: Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, written by Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds. A Disney Pixar release.
Running time: 1:40