Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Review: Finding Nemo

Review: Finding Nemo

When we first got Netflix, I thought I would be writing up reviews for all the movies we saw. I think "Finding nemo" is the first one I am actually getting to write about.

Just really well-done. Pixar has really taken off not with their super-realistic graphics but with good stories and good writing. All the hand-wringing that Disney and other studios muster about the superiority of Pixar's technology misses the point. Pixar's real advantage is in getting a bunch of motivated and properly incetivized people with minimal oversight and letting them create. By comparison, every late effort from Disney looks like it was done by committee of no less than 50. Other studios fare little better.

The fear of failure is palpable and understandable. These pictures cost a good deal of money, and the audiences of 5-10 year-olds are fickle and difficult to please. However, the solution seems to be not in micro-managing each shot and smoothing every sharp angle, but in what has always worked best in movies -- stories and scripts. Sadly, Pixar seems to be the only studio that is able to apply a grown-up movie aethtetic to its animation products.

On its own, "Finding Nemo" is not my favourite Pixar movie. It was clever and smooth, but somehow lacking in true emotional depth. I do not get wowed by most animation tricks, and was much more impressed by characters from Toy Story. The original "Toy Story" amazed me by how clearly it related to children, and how fun it was for adults to watch. With the exception of "Monsters Inc." all other Pixar movies have had a tendency towards giving a bit more to adults, with gimmicky pop-culture references, culminating with the mediocre "Bugz Life". Nemo is definitely a much more balanced movie than "Bugz Life". It also clearly connected with kids in its target audience. On a recent visit to an aquarium I could not get to a display with either a clownfish or some other fish that looks like the "dory" character. 3rd graders were all over that tank, reliving Nemo's adventures and debating finer points of clownfish coloring. That's the best compliment a movie for kids can get, I think.


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