Finding Nemo

Screenplay by Andrew Stanton (co-director), Bob Peterson, David Reynolds

Studio : Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar (released May 30)

Category: Original

Storyline: Animated tale of a young fish, Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould), who is separated from his father, Marlin (Albert Brooks), and taken to live in a dental office fish tank. Dad, joined later by fast-talking, ever-forgetful optimist Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), takes off on an underwater journey to find Nemo, while Nemo and his fish-tank cronies plot an escape.

About the script: Emotional, funny and swimmingly well done, this script doesn’t seem to know or care that it’s dealing with CGI fish. The inhabitants of this world come off as human and complex as those in any other film this year. “The reality is, you never think of the movie as animated — you’re thinking of it as a real story with real characters,” says co-writer and co-director Andrew Stanton. “The main effort regardless is really just trying to discover who your characters are.

“Separating a child from its parents and trying to find them gives you a lot as a writer. We did not have a villain, so we just let the elements of the world be the antagonist of the whole story.”

Biggest challenge: “We were going for something more emotional and dramatic than in our previous scripts, so it was always very precarious that we’d fall into something melodramatic or sappy. It’s easier to cover things up with a lot of humor and action, but I was trying to be more exposed this time.”

Breakthrough idea: “The biggest epiphany for me, that really took it to another level, was the conception of Dory. She sort of bridged the two main characters, a father and son who need to change together, yet I purposely separate them for the entire movie and don’t bring them back until the very end. I was inspired by the structure of the novel ‘Cold Mountain’ for this, but how do you do that here? Dory, with her short-term memory loss, became key for making our story structure work.”

Favorite scene: When Dory and Marlin get caught inside a whale and have to use their wits to break out. “It’s where I hit the theme of the movie. This is make or break, and it’s tense, comedic and poignant at the same time.”

Lines we love: The surfer-dude turtle, Crush, with his one-word response to a deep question from Marlin: “Cha.”

Writers’ bio: Andrew Stanton was Oscar-nominated for the script for “Toy Story.” His other screenwriting credits include “Monsters, Inc.,” “Toy Story 2” and “A Bug’s Life,” on which he was co-director. Dave Reynolds started his career as a writer for “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” His screenwriting credits include “The Emperor’s New Groove,” “Tarzan” and “Jungle Book 2.” Bob Peterson makes his feature writing debut with “Nemo.”

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