23. Finding Nemo (2003)
When you think about the Walt Disney Studio today, it is hard not to think of the tremendous contribution the PIXAR Animation Studios have given to the company. Since 1995, the computer-animation company from the San Francisco Bay Area has produced 11 feature films and won several awards (including the Best Animated Feature Oscar five times, one of which was this delightful gem). This film was PIXAR's fifth project and, for me, their best. The story focuses on the Oceanic creatures as they struggle against an unpredictable enemy: life itself. Clownfish Marlon (voiced by the hilarious Albert Brooks) is very overprotective of his young son, Nemo (voice of Alexander Gould). Marlon and Nemo are alone since Nemo's mother (along with Nemo's siblings) were killed by a predatory fish in the movie's prologue. Marlon's obsession and paranoia becomes too much for Nemo to bear and he rebels. His rebellion causes him to be snatched up by a deep sea diver. Marlon races to save him but cannot catch the masked "fishnapper." And so begins the movie's plot, as Marlon tries to search for his son and Nemo, who is in a fish tank in a dentist's office, wants to make his way home. Both father and son meet several interesting characters along the way especially Gil (voiced by the chilling Willem Dafoe), a disfigured fish who has a plot to get out of the fish tank; and Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres in a steal-the-movie role), a forgetful blue fish who tries (in her way) to help Marlon in his quest. The characters are extremely well-defined, while the script is very funny and very touching (one of the few animated movies that make me cry). The computer-animation is also at its best as the audience gets the feeling of being deep within the ocean. The rest of the voice cast is filled with great character actors in smaller roles like Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Geoffrey Rush and Barry "Dame Edna" Humphries (as a reformed shark named Bruce, a nod to #47: Jaws). It also has a very interesting quality in an animated feature in the fact that it doesn't have a discernible villain (like Jafar, or Scar, or the Wicked Queen were to their respective films). The villain is the Ocean, itself, and the wide world that Marlon and Nemo have to trek to find each other. It is a beautiful film with enormous heart and a charming cast of characters one is never to forget.
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