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68. Finding Nemo (#164)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo.

When his young son Nemo is abducted, Marlon sets out across the ocean to rescue the boy. Along the way, he encounters a forgetful fish named Dory and embarks upon a series of rich and vivid adventures.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 164th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Finding Dory

Finding Dory is a demonstration of everything that Pixar does well, a bright and colourful treat for kids that offers enough depth for adults.

Pixar have one of the strongest track records in animation, even acknowledging recent missteps like Cars 2 or The Good Dinosaur. At its best, the studio is transcendent, producing films that speak as keenly to parents as they do to children, building entire worlds from pixels that feel so textured and real that audiences do not need 3D to end up lost in them. Inside Out is the most recent demonstration of the studio’s prowess in that regard, a film that deserved to be in the conversation as one of the very best movies of 2016.

I think I see her!

I think I see her!

Finding Dory is not quite at that level. The movie seems unlikely to be remembered as one of the studio’s finest efforts alongside Wall-E or Up. However, second tier Pixar is still fantastic. There is a solid argument to be made that Finding Dory is the film of the summer, a family-friendly treat that can appeal to whole audiences. Kids of all ages will react fondly to the colourful (and beautifully rendered) characters, while the movie also resonates on more profound levels for the more mature members of the family.

As with the best Pixar films, Finding Dory speaks to the idea of family and growing up. The film is held together by a beautiful metaphor about what it means to find a family, and about the idea of returning home as an emotional rather than a literal journey. It is a fascinating and powerful film, but also one with as much heart and energy as anything in the Pixar canon.

Something fishy is going on...

Something fishy is going on…

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Home of the Brave: Is Brave a Pixar Princess Movie?

I have to admit, I’m having a hard time getting too excited about Brave. To be honest, the notion of an original Pixar movie should be a breath of fresh air after the incredibly disappointing Cars 2. The studio is, after all, responsible for quite a few modern classics – those rare cinematic treats that the entire family can sit down and enjoy together. However, despite my deep-biding affection for classics like Wall-E, Up, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles or any of the Toy Story films, I can’t seem to be too concerned about the approaching release of the studio’s latest animated effort. I can’t help but feel that – despite the fact it’s their first film that isn’t a sequel in quite some time – we’ve seen this all before.

Is Brave just a Pixar “princess” movie, the spiritual successor to the long line of Disney “princess” movies?

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Re-Release Me… Let Me Go… Hollywood and Re-Releases…

So, yep. It’s a bad time for the US box office. The Lion King, a movie first released in 1994, managed to hold on to the number one spot at the top of the charts for two whole weeks, and ranking higher than any new release in its third week. If anything, the major movie studios have been very quick to jump on any trend that offers even the slightest hint of a money-making opportunity. It’s a trend one can easily see from the way that Hollywood pursues ideas. After Harry Potter was a breakout hit, every studio in town was looking for a young adult franchise to adapt to the big screen. After The Dark Knight, it became customary to plan for the superhero sequel before the original even hit theatres. It’s a trend even more obvious with technological gimmicks. After Christopher Nolan proved that you could make money in Imax, it seemed every other movie was being released in the format (even if it didn’t warrant it). Avatar led to a wave of 3D releases, which seemed to be growing old fast. So the success of a film originally released nearly two decades ago in the cinema, remastered in 3D, is pretty much assured to be the next big thing.

I'd be lion if I didn't admit I want to see it...

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Non-Review Review: Finding Nemo

You know, even after all this time, I think that Finding Nemo views with The Incredibles as my favourite Pixar production. I respect and appreciate the sheer artistry and technical skill that went into Wall-E and I think Uprepresents the company’s most mature work to date, but I think Nemo perfectly captures everything that I love about the company – the maturity, the humour, the adventure, the technical skill of it all. Plus it has perhaps the best voice cast of the films.

The life aquatic...

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Non-Review Review: Bolt

I really enjoyed Bolt. Being entirely honest, Disney’s track record with its own CGI was hardly encouraging, with Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons hardly measuring up to the work of the company’s other animation division. Bolt might not be quite as good as Tangled, but – at its very best – it manages to hit on those big, shared emotions and themes that have helped Pixar set the standard for modern animation. For most of its run, it’s a solidly entertaining and diverting family film, but it also has moments of powerful emotional connection.

His bark's worse than his bite...

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Non-Review Review: Cars 2

Cars 2 is a Pixar film that runs on an engine, rather than on heart. Technically, it’s magnificent. It’s well put together, features a winning cast, a lot of quite wonderful jokes and absolutely stunning action movies. However, the movie fails to make even the most basic of emotional connections. We’re always watching a bunch of cool cars doing cool car stuff, but we never feel good or bad about it. Even when a handful of cars meet tragic ends over the course of the movie, we never feel bad about it – we don’t really care about them, so we’re never concerned at the dangers they face. It’s a shame, because it’s a stunningly beautiful piece of animation, it’s just missing that wonderful soul that Pixar seems to install with its movies as standard.

Lightning, cameras, action!

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Pixar and the Weight of Expectation…

Well, it probably had to happen. I know it’s probably not statistically impossible, just highly improbable – but I guess that I always knew (deep down) that Pixar’s batting average was too good to last. I mean, I (at the very least) really like all of their films, and I genuinely love the majority of them. And that fact is borne out by the Rotten Tomatoes ratings of the various films. The vast majority rank in the 90% to 100% range, something any studio would kill for: Toy Story (100%), A Bug’s Life (91%), Toy Story 2 (100%), Monsters Inc (95%), Finding Nemo (98%), The Incredibles (97%), Ratatouille (96%), Wall-E (96%), Up (98%), Toy Story 3 (99%). Even the single film that ranks lowest, the only one not in the range, still had mostly positive reviews, Cars with 74%. However, Cars 2 looks to have bucked that winning trend, with reviews that not only fall far short of Pixar’s impressive average, but is actually pretty negative.

I can’t help but feel more than a little bit sad.

Do Pixar need to get in gear?

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My Top 50 Movies of the Decade…

Alright here it is, my top fifty films of the decade. I’ve decided to stop complaining about Donal Clarke’s list in the Irish Times and just let rip myself. There’s more than a few crazy choices down there, but – after a week in the works – I’m happy with it. I doubt that a lot of other people will be.

Like the Oscars, but... you know, better...

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The Magic of Pixar

How do Pixar continue to do it? Of the ten films they have produced so far, nearly all are considered animated classics (though I remain skeptical of A Bug’s Life). Somehow the company seems to have found a way to not only compress the whole spectrum of human emotion (though it has been suggested that they do better with loss and depression than triumph and love), and distill these precious elements into a technically marvelous computer-animated form. With Up seemingly continuing the trend, how can they continue to do it?

Carl knew it wouldn't all be plane sailing...

Carl knew it wouldn't all be plane sailing...

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