Like The Lion King, this movie has to deal with the paradox of a carnivore associating with herbivores. Simba solved it by eating grubs and maggots (uh, no thanks, but I will have some of the BBQ meerkat, thank you), which just made me wonder, what about insect rights? Here, Alex the lion learns to eat sushi (actually, I don’t think he’d dig the rice, though he’d probably like sashimi) … so, eating Nemo is okay? Heartless! A movie like this, where the main moral dilemma is predation and being a carnivore is intrinsically bad because you have to kill some sort of cute little sentient critter to survive, makes me realize the pitfalls in adopting the Disneyesque view of the world, and why Bambi was probably a lot easier to write.
What, am I serious here? No, not much. None of this is any more serious than Elmer Fudd hunting wabbits and ducks. And yet, I am, just a little bit. The movie wants you to think about a guy eating his best friend, and the solution is to eat somebody else’s best friend. Of course, the one fish we see doesn’t talk, he just lies there like a fish, but we know he does talk, down there under the sea with Sebastian the hermit crab and Ariel the mermaid.
Okay, enough of that. The film is funny and frenetic, sometimes too frenetic. CGI is so easy now, “camera” moves are unlimited and built in to the technology, that I think animators are going a bit overboard. But maybe it’s for the same reason they shake the camera these days even in a static shot. Kids won’t watch something that stays still. But stillness can be the heart of humor, as in the film’s funniest scene. Four penguins (by far he best characters in the movie) have broken out of the zoo—hurray, we’re free!—hijacked a freighter, and ended up in the paradise of their dreams: The Antarctic. There is a long shot of them standing there with their backs to us, maybe twenty seconds, four tiny dots, the wind howling, the snow swirling. You can practically hear their minds working. One turns to the others and says, “Well, this sucks.”