'Finding Nemo' Hidden Cameo Object Revealed

The LATimes talk about the hidden objects and cameos the Pixar artists have placed in Finding Nemo for us to spot.

What hard-core Pixar fans really want to know is: Where's the Pizza Planet truck? The battered yellow pickup with a white camper shell and a light-up plastic rocket ship, advertising the fictional Pizza Planet franchise, played a key role in Pixar's first feature, 1995's "Toy Story." Strangely enough, it has become Pixar's most recurring image, popping up, Hitchcock-like, in every picture the studio has made.

"We have two rules in our movies," says Andrew Stanton, who wrote and directed "Finding Nemo," which is being released Friday by Disney. "Get the Pizza Planet truck in there somewhere and always have John Ratzenberger be a voice." The former gets its most fleeting cameo ever in "Nemo," whizzing past a dentist's office where a major part of the film is set, while the latter, whom Stanton calls "our good-luck charm," gives voice to an entire school of fish.

Calling upon a favorite actor is understandable enough, as are artists inserting animation equivalents of Hirschfeld "Ninas" just for kicks. But how did a rent-a-wreck junk-food wagon wind up as the unifying icon for the studio's oeuvre?

"It happened by accident for 'A Bug's Life,' " says Stanton, who co-wrote and co-directed that film. Running short of both time and money to design and create one shot of a human dwelling, under which Bug City would be revealed, the Pixar team hunted through existing images to reuse, settling on a beat-up camper. Needing a vehicle to park beside the camper, they decided to recycle the Pizza Planet truck.

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