2003-06-13 / Columnists

MovieScope By Robert Snyder ‘Finding Nemo’ is Finny Stuff

MovieScope By Robert Snyder ‘Finding Nemo’ is Finny Stuff

MovieScope By Robert Snyder
‘Finding Nemo’ is Finny Stuff


In the heyday of Warner Brothers’ animation, vocal actor Mel Blanc spent a lot of time talking to himself, supplying almost all the voices of the studio’s cartoon stars (Bugs Bunny, Sylvester the Cat, Tweetie Bird, Daffy Duck, etc.).

He was the "Sybil" of the WB  ’toon universe. Nowadays, established comedians give modern computer animation its funny bones…or, in the case of Disney/Pixar’s "Finding Nemo," its finny bones. Following the successful pairing of Tom Hank/Tim Allen ("Toy Story"), Mike Myers/Eddie Murphy ("Shrek") and John Goodman/Billy Crystal ("Monsters, Inc."), "Nemo" has found a classic comic team in Albert Brooks/Ellen DeGeneres for its
fishy fable of parental desperation in the ocean’s depths.

Blanc was a blank page, in terms of his acting persona, whereas current computer animation films such as "Finding Nemo," make the voice of the comedian the cartoon character, and vice versa. That is, cowboy Woody is Tom Hanks. Eddie Murphy is the donkey.

Imagine if Humphrey Bogart did the voice of Bugs Bunny. Bugs wouldn’t have been Bugs. He would have been Bogart Bunny. The celebrity actor takes something away from the uniqueness of a cartoon character. Although in "Nemo," it saves the story from sinking.

"Finding Nemo" is a masterpiece of computer animation, with Disney/ Pixar technically topping themselves after their previous computer-animation triumphs ("Toy Story," "Toy Story 2" and "Monsters, Inc."). Here, the comedic center hinges on the rapport between Brooks and DeGeneres.  He’s the voice of overprotective clownfish Marlin in search of his son, Nemo, abducted by divers and deposited into a dentist’s office aquarium in Sydney, Australia. She’s a little blue Tang, Dory, with severe memory problem and an optimistic attitude (one
may have something to do with the other). Dory becomes Marlin’s devoted sidekick.

Although the computer effects are outstanding (after all, this is Disney/Pixar), it’s the Brooks-DeGeneres combination that pulls the film through the slow parts. In other words, their comedy bits will keep Mom and Dad awake…particularly, Dory’s imitation of whale talk, which DeGeneres inserts whenever the action becomes waterlogged. Directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton (who does the surfer-dude voice of sea turtle Crush), "Finding Nemo" is almost too beautiful visually and a little leisurely pace-wise. "Pinocchio’s" old-fashioned hand-drawn, multi-plane animation has more stimulating undersea sequences. And, nowhere in "Nemo" is anything as colossally threatening or exciting as Monstro. In fact, "Nemo’s" whale is so passive that it completely lacks a personality. For the villain, Pixar resurrects Sid from "Toy Story" in the form of the dentist’s fish-killing 8-year-old niece, Darla.The story  cuts between Nemo and his bored fish-tank buddies and the Dad/Dory adventures, highlights of which involve a trio of Fish’oholic Anonymous sharks ("Fish are friends, not food") and an escape from jellyfish hell.

"Nemo" also falls back on some Disney/Pixar clichés: Tragic loss of a
parent ("Bambi," "The Lion King"), fear of a sadistic kid ("Toy Story") and a father’s search for his missing boy ("Pinocchio"). While the technical
experts are excelling at Disney/Pixar, the stories remain the same. Thank God for comedians.

Nonetheless, "Finding Nemo" is a must sea summer movie for kids. They’ll watch it and become overwhelmed by its watery wonders…while learning whale talk.

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