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Finding Nemo (****)
Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (co-director)
Written by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds
Principal Cast
Albert Brooks -- Marlin
Ellen DeGeneres -- Dory
Alexander Gould -- Nemo
Willem Dafoe -- Gill
Brad Garrett -- Bloat
Allison Janney -- Peach
Austin Pendleton -- Gurgle
Stephen Root -- Bubbles
Vicki Lewis -- Deb/Flo
Joe Ranft -- Jacques
Geoffrey Rush -- Nigel
Andrew Stanton -- Crush
Elizabeth Perkins -- Coral
Nicholas Bird -- Squirt
Barry Humphries -- Bruce
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Finding Nemo Finding Nemo is an absolute delight. The film is beautiful, inventive, and very funny.

And that is the shortest review I ever wrote, because I think you should go into the movie with no foreknowledge of what you are about to see. Afterwards, when you get together with someone else who has seen the film, you can both just share a smile.

I do have some general thoughts about Disney animation.

Until recently, Disney animation was not funny. It was often beautiful. It was often exciting. But, except for The Dance of the Hours in Fantasia, it never made me laugh.

Until The Iron Giant in 1999, all of the great American animated features were by Disney. (All of the really funny cartoons were short subjects from Warner Brothers.)

The first animated feature was, of course, Disney's Snow White. It was a huge success, and all of the other studios rushed animated features into production -- all of which flopped. Some have their partisans, sometimes very vehement partisans, but they all flopped.

The next Disney feature, Pinocchio, is perhaps the greatest animation ever, but it didn't do as well at the box office as Snow White. And Fantasia lost money -- too lowbrow for the highbrows and too highbrow for the lowbrows. People walked out during the slow final number, Ave Maria. Fantasia didn't make a profit until the psychedelic 60s, which people tuned in, turned on, and went to see Fantasia.

Walt Disney, always adaptable, saved his corporate shirt with two wonderful but much less expensive features, Dumbo and Bambi. Then came World War II, and Disney didn't make any more animated features for eight years. All of the first five features were among the greatest cartoons of all time.

Between 1943 and 1950, Disney concentrated on anthology films. Saludos Amigos has nothing to recommend. The Three Caballeros has the wonderful title number and the locomotive sequence in the middle. Make Mine Music has Peter and the Wolf. Fun and Fancy Free has Mickey and the Beanstalk, only slightly spoiled by the Edgar Bergen frame. Melody Time you can skip. And The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad has... well, the title says it all, and both segments are worth watching.

The next group of Disney cartoons, from the 50s, are all good -- but not as good as the first five -- Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and Sleeping Beauty. The 60s began with another slight decline in quality, with 101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, and The Jungle Book. Then Walt died, and things went downhill, way downhill, until 1989's The Little Mermaid.

If you share my interest in Disney animation, I'll continue the story in a future column.

Copyright © 2003 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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