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2004
Rated: PG for mild language, and mild violence.
Genre: Kids/Family Animated Comedy Adventure
Directed By: Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson, Rob Letterman
Running Time: 1:30
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 9/14/05
DVD Features:
Club Oscar
Music Video
Rought Waters (Tech Goofs)
Star Fish (Meet The Cast)
Set Top Games
Commentary
The Music Of Shark Tale
Fishified World Featurette
DVD ROM Activities
If you like this, try: Finding Nemo, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, Ice Age, Shrek

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SHARK TALE

 


Don Lino: I tell you what's what, and what?
Sykes: What?
Don Lino: What what?
Sykes: What what nothin'. You said what first.
Don Lino: I didn't say what first.
Sykes: You said "and then what?' and I said "what?'
Don Lino: No, I said what, what?
[pause]
Sykes: ...You said what first.

I like how "Shark Tale" strives to be the anti-"Finding Nemo". There aren't any real accuracies that apply to water here, the sharks have finger-like flippers, the fish have lips, and it's more cartoonish this time around, and the result makes for some fun material here. There are plenty of clever gags here but the real fun was with the gags involving the shark mafia. The really laugh out loud moments mostly involved the crew of Don Lino's who sit around eating sea food (that's all there is), and talking amongst one another in the round table type meetings, and the actors comprised mostly of the IAG, really do improvise with much hilarity. Robert DeNiro spoofs the mobster boss yet again, but does a very tolerable job becoming a very good villain as his crew comprised of Peter Falk as a toothless fish, Martin Scorsese in an entertaining performance as a spineless blowfish, and Vincent Pastore who is hilarious as a dumb octopus.

Don Lino wants his shark son Lenny to go in to the family business and follow in to his footsteps in eating other fish, but Lenny doesn't want to, so he's taken out to the sea by his brother Frankie (Michael Imperioli in another very good performance) to learn to eat fish, but is accidentally killed by a fallen anchor. When there's a mix-up, Oscar the fish is thought to have killed him and is now being stalked by Lino's crew. Lenny, played with great comedic timing by none other than Jack Black, works well as a sort of, well, Lenny from "Of Mice and Men" mixed with Junior from Looney Tunes, and he's very funny with his soft spoken squeal working well off Oscar. I have a real weakness for animation, and "Shark Tale" is a fun kids film with colorful characters and can be a lot of fun with some great animation.

I'm now curious as to Will Smith's real appeal these days. Every role he's in, he basically plays himself, and in "Shark Tale", Will Smith plays Will Smith... as a fish. How incredibly original. Oscar, his character is a very superficial type of main character. He has basically no real redeeming qualities, is more based on his personality than actually making him a three-dimensional character with traits, and never really convinces me that I should like him, and I ended up liking Lenny much more. Although, that can really be said for many of the characters here; Angie is a sympathetic character but is not in the movie much to care for her, Lola is a very one-dimensional antagonist femme fatale, and every other characters are just there to pop jokes in now and again.

Meanwhile, there are pop culture references thrown every which way and it ends up becoming confusing as to what the makers are trying to pull off. Is this striving to be an anti-"Finding Nemo" or just another version of "Shrek"? Either way, I kept asking will children even get the references? We see a "Jaws" poster in the background, and we have many "Godfather" jabs that kids surely won't recognize. I doubt any child in the target audience has ever seen or even understands "The Godfather". And this really doesn't tackle pop culture as well as "Shrek" did, and doesn't capture underwater life as well as "Finding Nemo" did, and just ends up being in- between.

The film as a whole is very lifeless with a bland plot, listless energy and doesn't give us anything really worth remembering. The film can also be very loud and ugly. I had my volume on low and I was getting a headache with the surreal colors that are basically everywhere, and the hip hop soundtrack blaring literally non-stop that is just incredibly irritating. When we were with the mobsters it became very clever and fun, but the time spent with the other characters is time wasted as many of them are just endlessly shrill, and bear no personalities beyond the gags they're supposed to represent. In the end it's a waste of time and just becomes distracting instead of entertaining.

While there are many gags here that drew laughs, and while the performances are great from the actors, "Shark Tale", instead of becoming an anti-"Finding Nemo", it just becomes a poor man's "Shrek". It's clunky, derivative, and much of the humor will go over the target audience's heads, and it's just ultimately an empty experience.

  • When Oscar declares "You had me at Hello!", and Angie gives an amused face, it's a reference to Renee Zellweger who said the same line in her breakout role "Jerry Maguire", who so happens to play Angie.

 

 

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