It's the details that stand out whenever a classic film is converted to 3D.
With Finding Nemo, the shimmering sea surface, scratches on the lens of a diver's goggles and smudges Nemo the clown fish makes when he mashes his face up against the glass wall of the aquarium that imprisons him all pop off the screen in the 3D reissue of Pixar's undisputed masterpiece.
The fish seem to float in between the surface of the screen and the deep-blue underwater backgrounds of the South Pacific, an effect even more pronounced in 3D.
Perhaps it's not enough to warrant shelling out 3D dollars to go see a movie that's long been one of the bestselling home videos. But Finding Nemo, back in theatres nine years after its release, is a reminder that sometimes "instant" and "classic" can go together in a sentence describing a great movie.
And Finding Nemo is a great movie, one of the best animations for children ever made.
A timid single-dad clown fish (voiced by Albert Brooks) overprotects his mildly disabled (shrunken fin) only son (Alexander Gould) to the point where Nemo foolishly rebels and is promptly snatched and tossed into the tank at an Australian dentist's office.
Dad flees the comfort of his reef-side sea-anemone home, and with the help of a seriously absent-minded blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), sets out to find his son. And the kid, with the help of a tankful of mentors (Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney), plots to get back to dad.
It's a simple story, perfectly executed, especially the voices.
Dory -- all halting, self-interrupting comical kvetching, written specifically for DeGeneres and animated around her gestures -- steals the movie. "I suffer from short-term memory loss. It runs in my family... At least I think it does ... hmm. Where ARE they?"
It's a grand quest filled with funny, broadly drawn but wise characters -- sea turtles that speak "Surfer Dude"; Australian sharks trying to turn vegetarian (Barry Humphries, Eric Bana); a plucky pelican (Geoffrey Rush).
And what wonderful messages: No matter what, "just keep swimming"; "Trust, it's what friends do"; and kids, "You can't hold onto them forever."
So don't think of Nemo as just another 3D conversion. Think of this re-release as an encore, a handy touchstone for you and your kids. Finding Nemo was and remains the gold standard against which all other modern animated films are measured, a classic from the day it premiered.
-- McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Selected excerpts from reviews of Finding Nemo:
Very clever and imaginative indeed.
-- Todd McCarthy, Variety
(An) aquatic joyride.
-- Ted Shen, Chicago Reader
An enchanting animated feature.
-- Jami Bernard, New York Daily News
A thing of beauty, hugely entertaining and way cool.
-- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Finding Nemo is terrific entertainment.
-- Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper
A captivating and richly resonant aquatic fable, with characters whose gills and fins belie their deliciously human (that is, flawed) personalities.
-- Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post
One of those rare movies where I wanted to sit in the front row and let the images wash out to the edges of my field of vision.
-- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
-- Compiled by Shane Minkin