Running Time: 101 mins
Shrek showed us how entertaining an animation film can be. There was something in it for all ages. Finding Nemo is technically as good, and nearly as satisfying.
When Nemo (Alexander Gould) is just a baby, his clown fish mother sacrifices her own life to save him from the sharks. Racked by guilt at his wife's death, Nemo's father Marlin (Brooks) is overly protective of his son. Eventually, Marlin allows Nemo to go to school. On the first day Nemo is caught by a fisherman and sold to a Sydney dentist who collects exotic fish for the aquarium he has in his surgery.
Marlin is broken-hearted and sets out to find his son. Early on he is joined in his search by Dory (DeGeneres), an alzheimic angelfish. Together they venture across the Pacific Ocean to rescue Nemo.
Finding Nemo is another film from Pixar Studios. They have delighted us in recent years with Toy Story I and II, A Bug's Life and Monsters Inc. Finding Nemo is their best work yet. Colourful, clever and detailed, this film might do for marine biology what Jurassic Park did for palaeontology.
The values in Finding Nemo are spot-on too. It's a parable about letting go - a father who needs to allow his son to venture forth, and a son who comes to value what he's taken for granted. Along the way all manner of human behaviour is gently held up for exploration, parody and celebration.
The poster for this film has Nemo in front of Bruce the Shark (Humphries who is better known for Dame Edna Everage character). There is an hilarious scene where Bruce and his colleagues forgo a fish lunch for a 12-step meeting where they admit their powerlessness over fish-eating and make a sincere amendment of purpose.
The only annoying element in this film are the accents. Set on the Great Barrier Reef and down the east coast of Australia, it's curious that nearly all the fish speak with American accents.
Finding Nemo has been one of the biggest box office films in the USA this year. Pack up the entire family and discover why filmmaking this good deserves all the success it gets.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.