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Finding Nemo


Genre: Computer-animated feature

Opens: May 30

The pitch: When his son Nemo is caught by a diver, a meek clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) journeys from the Great Barrier Reef to an aquarium in a Sydney dentist's office to save him.

Fashion statement: No clothes to speak of, but fishy heroes like Ellen DeGeneres' sapphire- hued Dory have such vividly computer- animated colors that tropical fish may become the trendiest thing since Pokemon.

Hit single: Robbie Williams' cover of "Across the Sea," which spares us from hearing Randy Newman warble another tune about friendship in a Pixar picture.

Money shots: A shark chases Marlin and Dory through a sunken submarine. Marlin rescues Dory from a forest of stinging jellyfish. Swallowed by a whale, Marlin and Dory have a surreal cliffhanger from a giant tongue. Any panoramic view of the otherworldly coral reef.

Kid-friendly?: The prologue, when Marlin loses his entire family but Nemo's egg, may set off traumas a la Bambi's mother. A huge-fanged anglerfish at the ocean floor is the stuff of nightmares. But its message about letting children grow up should reel in tots and grown-ups alike.

Creative (voice) casting: With much of the film set in and off the coast of Australia, Nemo employs plenty of actors from Down Under, including Geoffrey Rush as a helpful pelican and Barry "Dame Edna" Humphries as Bruce, a shark trying to kick the habit of eating other fish.

Props to their peeps: In the dentist's aquarium, Willem Dafoe's scarred angelfish plans escape attempts like in Chicken Run, so Pixar nods to their peers at Aardman Animation. Hungry, air-head seagulls look like "The Wrong Trousers'" sinister penguin, and the dentist's address shares the name of Wallace and Grommit's street, Wallaby Way.

Inside joke: Crush, a sea turtle who like, totally talks like a California surfer, is voiced by Andrew Stanton, the film's director. Dude!

Extras: "Knick Knack," Pixar's 1989 snow-globe short, precedes the film. No bogus "out-takes" but droll little gags accompany the closing credits, including a cameo from an earlier Pixar star. If you're desperate to hit the bathroom, feel free to skip it.

The bottom line: The Toy Story movies remain Pixar's gold standard, but Nemo confirms the computer animation studio's winning combo of gorgeous visuals, air-tight scripts and uproarious voice acting. And they show remarkable restraint at keeping "fish out of water" puns to a minimum.

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