I just got back from seeing the latest Pixar
Oh. My. God. I don't like the idea of having a favorite, so I don't. So I'll just say that they've done it again.
For starters, let's look at the animation. I've seen Shrek, and Monsters, Inc. They both raised the bar for quality of computer animation.
Nemo has shattered it (pardon the mixed metaphor).
Some of the shots caused me to look closely, trying to make sure that yes, it was a computer image. Really, the only reason I'm sure now is that Pixar has computers made by God Almighty, or something, that allow it to make it's movies look as good as they need to. Not only is the tech unsurpassed, it works wonders on an artistic level.
A plot summary may well be in order here: Marlin (Albert Brooks) is a widower clownfish raising his only son, Nemo (Alexander Gould). When disaster strikes in the form of a scuba-diving Australian dentist and his plastic bag, Marlin seeks him (hence the title), along with the help of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a blue tang. Meanwhile, Nemo seeks escape from his aquarium, getting comfort and moral support from Gill (Willem Dafoe), a sympathetic
angel fish Moorish Idol (thanks, Wuukiee).
But, enough of the plot. The real important thing is, is the movie good? I rate animated movies on two factors: whether they make me laugh, and whether they make me cry (or come close). Let's look at them both.
First, humor. This, Nemo had in spades. For a prime example, look to Dory; Ellen DeGeneres steals most of the scenes she is in. The scene where she speaks "whale" is priceless. And good use is made of her charecter's short-term memory loss, for both drama and comedy. Brooks' Marlin is also a delight, as his (clearly justified) overprotectiveness and timidness leads to frequently engaging scenes. And then, there's Crush. Andrew Stanton not only wrote Nemo (as well as every other Pixar), not only did he direct Nemo, not only did he also voice the perennially entertaining Emperor Zerg of Toy Story 2; he also brought to life one of the films best characters. A hippy turtle that can be seen in the trailer, Crush's best lines are both humorous and meaningful. When Marlin is commenting on the way a young turtle is allowed to get out on his own, and wonders how they knew it was time, Crush (sage that he is) replies that "Well, you never really know. But when they know, you know-y'know?". The rest of the hodge-podge that make up the movie (from 12-stepping sharks to a flock of seagulls) merely adds laugh after laugh after laugh to a movie already almost filled to bursting.
But it's not only the funny bone that the truly remarkable movies hit you. They have to go for the heart too. Now, I am not saying that Finding Nemo has the same magnificent one-two to the heart as is seen in the final shot of Monsters Inc. But I was sort of choked up a couple times. There's one scene (you should know it when you see it) between Marlin and Dory, that is... I'm fast running out of adjectives to describe things that are very good. There are also lots of other scenes, none of which I dare to mention here (I try to avoid spoilers), but all of which are of note.
As a bonus, the movie does some things you wouldn't expect from Pixar. The camera work can at times seem frantic (in a good way), and many scenes are darker or more action packed then you'd expect. It even starts on a darker note then any cartoon I can easily think of. Really, the largest problem I had was that the short they'd gave us (the wonderful KnickKnack) was years old; I'd already seen it on their website. Given how great For the Birds was, I'd hoped for better.
Pixar is on a winning streak; they have yet to make a bad movie. What's more, the movies almost always top what came before (Sorry, A Bug's Life, but you didn't beat Toy Story; don't feel bad, it's tough shoes to fill). Pixar's films are among the best animation has to offer us. If you doubt me, it's a simple thing to prove.