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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.49%
Worth A Look: 11.49%
Just Average39.08%
Pretty Crappy: 24.14%
Sucks: 13.79%

7 reviews, 45 user ratings

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Shark Tale
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by Jay Seaver

"An average fish story."
3 stars

I'm trying to remember when voice talent started moving above the title in animated features. Shrek, obviously. Was Osmosis Jones billed as Chris Rock's movie? I don't think so, although I think the Farrellys and the live action cast were billed. Antz probably would have been, if Woody Allen had allowed it. Ice Age was, Titan A.E. wasn't. It's not like the studios kept the talent a secret, but DreamWorks has changed the game by building (and selling) animated features as star vehicles.

Shark Tale is very much a Will Smith vehicle. As a fish named Oscar, the Fresh Prince cracks wise, is initially immature but wises up by the end; he talks in that sort of in-between manner, recognizably rap-influenced, but with the sort of proper diction and lack of cursing that makes him non-threatening to the white folks. Similarly, Robert De Niro does the De Niro role, a shark who's the head of the local mob. Renée Zellweger is the funny girl-next door type, Angelina Jolie is the sexpot, and all the sharks except Jack Black's Lenny (who obviously isn't like the other sharks) are voiced by familiar mob types. It's using their movie star status as character shorthand, a longtime trick for live-action movies but seldom so explicitly used in animation as it is here.

The story is an odd combination of a kid-friendly version of "Jack the Giant Killer" and an adult-oriented mob spoof. After Oscar is sent out to be whacked by local underboss-type Sykes (Martin Scorcese as a pufferfish), a deus ex machina leaves mob heir Frankie dead and Oscar on the scene. So he's hailed as the Sharkslayer, becomes a local hero, but things get hairy when Lenny threatens to expose Oscar's lie.

By the time I'm writing this, the movie's already had three weekends at the top of the box office which, while not an indication of objective quality, does mean that some things I figured might be issues obviously aren't. Shark Tale has as awkward a marriage of kiddie plotting and reference-based jokes as any animated work since Animaniacs, but folks seem to go for it (see also: Shrek). Speaking of Shrek, the use of music is as uninspired as it is in Shrek 2 - Hans Zimmer's score is fine, but the pop songs always seem like the first one somebody thought of for a scene, rather than a particularly perfect/clever one.

The movie looks pretty enough, with lots of bright colors and as many jokes hidden in the corners of the screen as in the Shrek movies. As with those movies, the setting owes more to 20th/21st Century America than the actual undersea environment in which it takes place. By making the coral reef a big city, there's some obvious opportunities for product placement, which is kind of obnoxious. It's hard not to compare it to Finding Nemo, which was able to create a sort of sense of awe and wonder with its undersea world while Shark Tale just gives us variations on something familiar.

(Not that one should give in to the temptation to call Shark Tale a Nemo copycat; aside from the lead time necessary to make an animated movie, smooth-textured things like fish, insects, and toys are just logical subjects for CGI-based movies.)

Shark Tale has quite a few funny moments, and a few which aren't as funny as they perhaps should be. It's an average movie, which makes it good enough for a watch in my book. Don't ask me why this is a huge hit while Sky Captain has underperformed at the box office; sometimes audiences are just funny that way.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10360&reviewer=371
originally posted: 10/24/04 23:21:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/04/18 Louise Super - what's wrong with you reviewers? It's fun fluff!! 4 stars
11/06/09 Jazz loves Will Smith and Shark Tale 5 stars
1/25/09 Samantha Pruitt not as good as it's colleagues (Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc) but still pretty funny! 4 stars
11/21/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 3 stars
8/01/07 SweetPossum people only diss it because of actors. the plot and animation and chacters was great. 5 stars
2/23/07 Austin Wertman a disappointment 3 stars
5/28/06 drydock54321 very entertaining 4 stars
5/16/06 Fruit-Loop Has it's moments but I wased bored. 5.2\10 3 stars
5/03/06 ES 'How to come out to your parents,' the cartoon! 2 stars
4/01/06 JRE since there are so many stars you expect the movie to be good. it's not 2 stars
3/09/06 Dk Amusing but forgettable 2 stars
2/06/06 Anthony A great family movie 4 stars
2/01/06 Mary E. Gur It was a fun movie 5 stars
1/08/06 Eden Puts its actors names before the title - that says all you need to know 1 stars
1/06/06 JM Synth A good cartoon needs more than a star-studded voice cast and a few "fish" puns 2 stars
9/21/05 Jonathon Holmes save your money for "The Incredibles" 2 stars
9/17/05 ryan it was awsome. the sharks were awsome! 5 stars
9/10/05 Harvey Birdman YOU LIAR its the best movie you loser 5 stars
8/26/05 Aliyah Why does everyone dis this movie?It was da bomb. 5 stars
8/12/05 ES A cartoon about how to come out to your family, no where near nemo quality 2 stars
5/28/05 Littlepurch Some of my friends loved it, I didn't. 2 stars
3/13/05 Tamara Burks I haven't seen Nemo so I can't compare but I enjoyed this movie so who cares. 4 stars
3/01/05 Rapunzel Gladstone Furthermore, Allison, the sharls have both nostrils and gills; the bony fish have neither! 3 stars
3/01/05 Allison Lafferty Full of goofs: drinking glasses under water, burst balloons sinking under water, etc.! 3 stars
2/20/05 fiona I was so disappointed in this one. The story and writing were lame, graphics excellent :-( 3 stars
2/20/05 dev good family movie, preferred Nemo but this was still pretty good! 4 stars
2/18/05 april gupton cute 4 stars
2/17/05 Eileen Lammers Cute, lots of fun and laughs 5 stars
1/28/05 Richard Brandt Mildly amusing to see the stars caricatured as fish 3 stars
1/02/05 Chance Lame. It wasn't funny or entertaining. 1 stars
12/11/04 ELI Proof that there is no God 1 stars
12/08/04 Quanisha I loved it 5 stars
11/20/04 er FUCKING SHIT 1 stars
11/05/04 TCIC I didn't laugh once. It was a shoddy merging of Nemo and Shrek 2 stars
11/02/04 Tiff I thought the film was funny, and while educating 5 stars
10/25/04 willjake still a nemo girl thru n thru but did laff all da way thru dis!!! 4 stars
10/17/04 Thylaylii Meh, so/so. Couldn't get over the ugliness of some of the characters, which was unfortunate 3 stars
10/14/04 kait clark funny for teenagers 5 stars
10/11/04 Simon Khalil if the movie is half as good as the soundtrack it will be an entertaining 90 minutes.. 4 stars
10/10/04 Ron L. A humorous propaganda film for the gay movement 2 stars
10/09/04 Tyrantis Why Jack Black, why? 1 stars
9/30/04 Kris Finding Nemo's retarded little brother that no one likes 1 stars
9/26/04 Archanist_101 Decent enough, I guess... 4 stars
9/25/04 M too much happenin, not enough laughs. Snazzy gay undertones, great music though. 3 stars
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  01-Oct-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Feb-2005



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