Yep, a kid flick. Be prepared to brave the theaters filled with screaming six-year-olds needing to go to the bathroom in the middle of the film. Now on to my impressions…
Wow. That was the beginning? Well, I guess they didn’t want to wreck the sensibilities of the children in the audience. From reviews that I had read prior to the screening, I had the impression that it would have been more disturbing. The only other Pixar film I have seen is Monsters Inc. where the styles and technical achievements are very similar. Polished and colorful. Pixar does monsters and fish very well. The humans however are caricatures, which I suppose works in this case since they are gags and peripheral to the story.
The story itself is filled with wonderful characters. Marlin (Albert Brooks) is a neurotic and overprotective clownfish, annoying at times, but ultimately sympathetic. Wanting to keep someone you love safe is a universal theme and the people at Pixar are smart enough to milk it for what it’s worth (especially when half the audience are parents). Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is the blue tang who accompanies Marlin to help find his son. Dory has problems, though, specifically memory problems of Memento proportions, and she is easily manipulated due to her child-like persona as well as the memory loss.
There are also a lot of other details that were quite amusing. My favorite character was Gill (Willem Dafoe) the zebra fish constantly planning jailbreaks from the dentist office aquarium. The greedy, food-obsessed seagulls were spot on (although I wouldn’t think their beaks would be sharp enough to pierce sail tarp!) and the dentist’s braces-wearing, fish-killing niece was deliciously bratty (of course, the Psycho theme playing whenever she showed up helped too).
At the end, though, I was sort of hoping that Dory and Marlin would get together but that was sort of spoiled by Bruce the shark and his cronies escorting the blue tang back to the coral reef. (I guess girls can’t resist bad boys even if they are cartoon fish.)