Ten years after it was first released, Pixar’s hugely entertaining comedy swims back into cinemas in the 3D format – and it is still the cinematic catch of the day.
Eye-popping visuals and a superb script, crammed to the gills with laugh-out-loud gags, combine to stunning effect in this hugely entertaining and wildly inventive fable set beneath the ocean waves.
The conversion to 3D has been lovingly overseen by Pixar supremo John Lasseter and the underwater environments look stunning with the added depth of vision.
You can almost feel fish swimming around you as the camera glides along coral reefs or sinks into the blue beyond and a forest of deadly jellyfish.
Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is a neurotic clownfish who has never recovered emotionally from a barracuda attack, which claimed the lives of his wife and all but one of his unborn children.
When his one surviving son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), is plucked from the Great Barrier Reef by a diver and re-housed in a fish tank in a dentist’s waiting room, Marlin embarks on an epic adventure to bring the youngster home.
The clownfish is aided by a friendly blue tang called Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who suffers from short-term memory loss, travelling through shark-infested waters to be reunited with his boy.
Meanwhile, Nemo hatches a daring escape from the crowded aquarium with the help of the other residents, including a Moorish Idol called Gill (Willem Dafoe), a hygiene-obsessed shrimp called Jacques (Joe Ranft) and a starfish called Peach (Allison Janney).
Finding Nemo is still computer-animated perfection.
Brooks plays his compulsive-obsessive father with sensitivity and dry wit, such as when he frets that none of his children will like him and his wife replies, ‘Marlin, there are 400 eggs, I’m pretty sure one of them will like you.’
The rapport between Marlin and Dory is wonderful.
DeGeneres is a hoot as the comic sidekick, repeatedly forgetting who Marlin is and swimming to the surreal conclusion: ‘Are... are you my conscience?’
There are dozens of memorable supporting characters, including a surfer dude turtle and a trio of sharks keen to embrace vegetarianism.
‘I am a nice, friendly shark,’ they chant, ‘Not a fish-eating monster. Fish are our friends, not food.’
A great white called Bruce (Barry Humphries) soon changes his tuna when he scents Marlin’s blood.
The animation is jaw-dropping.
Sly visual jokes and rich detail are crammed into every water-logged frame, including a Buzz Lightyear action figure in the dentist’s office.
Before the main feature, there is an uproariously funny new Toy Story short called Partysaurus Rex in which the fun-loving green plastic dinosaur helps a gang of bath toys to stage a rave in a bubble bath.
Pixar certainly knows how to spoil us.