Hilarious, exciting and endlessly inventive, Finding Nemo is an awesome aquatic animation which will exhaust the adjective store of even the most hyperbolic film hack (ahem). One word just about does the job: genius.
Somewhere, under the sea, weak-finned clown fish Nemo (Alexander Gould) lives with his fretful father, Marlin (Albert Brooks). Smothered by pop's paranoia, he ventures away from the reef, but his dad's dread is justified when a passing diver whisks him away.
Taken to a tank in a Sydney dentists, Nemo meets Gill (Willem Dafoe) and co - friendly fish who dream of escaping to the ocean. Meanwhile, Marlin bumps into a blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), and sets out to save his son...
It's a familiar formula for the digi-drawn dynamics of Pixar, whose Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. have proved such critical and commercial hits. How increasingly impressive the achievement, then, that Finding Nemo feels so fresh.
There is beauty and brilliance in every frame. Tasked with creating an undersea environment, the animators have excelled themselves, capturing textures, light, shade and movement that could be photo-real, were it not for the clever way the makers have subtly caricatured landscapes, as well as characters, lending a warm cartoonish quality to the stunning visuals.
The splendour of natural history hit The Blue Planet is matched by the wit of the script and stars. Barry Humphries has a terrific cameo as a great white shark who's sworn off killing (Remember, fish are friends, not food!), while DeGeneres provides perfect timing and tone as Dory, whose short-term memory loss is a gag that never stops running.
Managing to move without falling into the jaws of sentimentality, the picture thrills and frightens too. A paean to parenthood and superb for sprogs, it's a perfect piece of storytelling. What a catch!/Reel it in!/You'll have a whale of a time! Etc, etc.
Finding Nemo opens in London's West End, and Manchester Filmworks, on Friday 3rd October 2003. It goes nationwide on Friday 10th October 2003.