Doctor Dolittle (1967)

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There’s no doubt about it – animals are far more interesting than people.  In early Victorian England, Dr. John Dolittle (Rex Harrison) lives in a small village where he much prefers the company of animals to humans.  He trains as a veterinarian and specialises in caring for and verbally communicating with animals. When Dr. Dolittle is unjustly sent to an insane asylum for freeing lovesick circus seal Sophie from captivity so she can return to her husband at the North Pole, his animals and two closest human friends, Matthew Mugg (Anthony Newley) and Tommy Stubbins (William Dix), liberate him. Afterwards they join Emma Fairfax (Samantha Eggar) and set out by boat to find a famed and elusive creature: the Great Pink Sea Snail, fetching up on an island where the natives prove a challenge…  How do you make money with a Pushmi-Pullyu? Songwriter Leslie Bricusse adapted Hugh Lofting’s classic children’s books and Harrison and Newley take their theatrical shtick to the screen with zest. A witty, whimsical delight, this was a controversial flop following some disastrous choices of location shooting which led to huge production overruns and Harrison’s loathsome behaviour made filming a chore for the human cast.  The songs are fun, the action marvellous (Harrison’s love scene with Sophie the Seal has to be seen to be appreciated) and it’s a wonderfully colourful musical directed with some flair by Richard Fleischer.  I have nothing in common with the human race

The Shallows (2016)

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I’m a big fan of Jaume Collet-Serra’s films and this short sharp shocker doesn’t let you down. Blake Lively is the med student who goes south of the border searching for a beach her late mother loved – problem is Mom didn’t tell her there were sharks. Just 200 yards from shore she loses her board and has to try to battle with a very angry guy. Her ingenuity sees her take refuge aboard a dead whale, a rock and a buoy and as well as having to stitch up the huge bite on her thigh while the tide rises steadily, she sees three men killed. Written by Anthony Jaswinski this is paced brilliantly and Lively gives a pitch perfect performance that finally sees her match her surname! Nailbiting stuff. And three cheers for Steven Seagull!!!

Finding Nemo (2003)

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Sure we could jaw about the recuperative power of the paternal and how it became a thing in US movies after 9/11 but we’ve done that, kinda, and we could jar about how irritating animations are since the Noughties cos they’re always about parents trying to be heroes to their kids (yawn) … but there’s a reason this was Prince’s favourite film. Mom is dispensed with in a horrible tragedy opening our story. Then Little Nemo with his underdeveloped fin swims too close to a boat despite his pop Marlin the Clownfish’s warnings. He gets stuck in a dentist’s aquarium with the threat of an awful ginger child coming to take him away. Meanwhile pop teams up with the irritating if affectionate bluefish Dory – complete with goldfish memory – and literally goes through hell and high water to rescue his son. Nemo finds his fins in captivity and there’s one great reunion. It’s exciting, tense, witty, adventurous, full of danger. Maybe I wouldn’t love this as much if I hadn’t witnessed an act of heroism in my own fishtank one day when Basil swooped down to take a huge food flake out of Hector’s little mouth (and promptly ate it himself). He saved his life. And this enchantment under the sea might save yours. Just keep swimming.