Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, starring the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Barry Humphries, Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana.
Pixar Animation Studios have raised their own bar with the success of 'Monsters Inc' and 'Toy Story', turning animated films into something that adults were willing to go see at the cinema - with or without children in tow. John Lasseter and his Pixar team's latest, 'Finding Nemo', comes with high expectations - and doesn't disappoint.
Like its predecessors, 'Finding Nemo' is set in an entrancing secret world, which is populated with colourful, witty and touching characters. This time 'round, talking fish take centre screen in an underwater universe of extraordinarily beautiful CGI. Each frame is rich in detail and jewel-like colours, Pixar's animators expertly capturing the refracted light of the sea and the textures and movement of its inhabitants.
Safely hidden inside an anemone on the Great Barrier Reef live orange and white-striped tropical clownfish, Nemo (voiced by Gould), and his neurotic father, Marlin (Brooks). Having had his wife and 399 of Nemo's siblings devoured by a shark, over-protective Marlin takes no chances with his beloved only son, much to the kid's annoyance. Tired of his father's fussing, Nemo defiantly swims towards a boat on his first day at school. But Marlin's worst fears are fulfilled when a scuba-diving dentist kidnaps his son.
Ending up in a tank in the dentist's office, Nemo meets a group of fellow captive fish, including Gill (Dafoe), who dreams of returning to the ocean. Meanwhile, Marlin sets out to rescue his son with the help of a comical "short term memory deficient" blue tang called Dory (DeGeneres). Once the quest is set up, the action cuts between Marlin and Dory's adventures and Nemo's attempts at escaping from the fish tank.
There are some terrific cameos, particularly from Australian actors Barry Humphries (watch out for his 'The Shining' moment), Bruce Spence and Eric Bana. They voice a trio of sharks that form an AA-type group to help them stop eating fish with the mantra: "I am a nice, friendly shark. Not a fish-eating monster. Fish are our friends, not food." Director and writer Andrew Stanton pops up as the voice of stoner turtle Crush, a character with certain links to the Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott in 'Dude, Where's My Car?'
Avoiding sentimentality, 'Finding Nemo' goes for a happy - but not sappy - ending. With great storytelling and just over 100 minutes of pure magic for kids of all ages, 'Finding Nemo' blows the competition out of the water.