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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 Robert Flaxman

"This movie bites. Get it? Bites?"
1 stars

Dreamworks' animation department is not likely ever to catch up to Pixar. There is their insistence on prioritizing star power over actual voice acting talent, there is their often ugly animation, and there is, above all, their inexcusable decision to make as important as the plot pop culture references that will be dated in two years.

Shark Tale is not as bad as it looked - it's much, much worse. The animation is exactly as bad as it looked, except now we have to endure the ugliness for 90 minutes instead of 90 seconds. I don't know who decided Oscar the fish should look like a grotesque caricature of Will Smith, but they need to be fired. The great white sharks are equally hideous.

Then there's Smith's incessant mugging. Doesn't he get enough of that when he's actually onscreen? An even bigger problem than his inane posturing and assortment of quotes from better movies (he at one point yells "Are you not entertained," "You can't handle the truth," and "You had me at hello" in succession) is the animation job - no one seems to have much cared how well his lips match what he's saying. This is a problem for several other characters as well.

It doesn't help that until late in the movie, only Jack Black displays any significant voice acting talent. It's not that you have to change your voice, which Black does, to be a good voice actor, but it rarely feels like the other actors aren't just playing themselves. Smith and Robert DeNiro pull it together at the end, just in time for Martin Scorsese to humiliate himself by talking "street" and the rest of the cast to have a dance number. Hey, it worked for Shrek!

The basic idea behind Shark Tale is that the sharks are the Mafia and all the other fish are scared of them. Meanwhile, Oscar (Smith) works at the Whale Wash and dreams of being rich and famous - of course, such dreams only help make him more of a loser. Oscar becomes a hero when he takes credit for the death of Frankie (Michael Imperioli), brother of the timid Lenny (Black) and son of Don Lino (DeNiro), but naturally this leads to more trouble than it's worth.

I hold no particular love for the Mafia, so you'd think this sort of parody might appeal to me, but its visual mimicry of other movies and general operation is, magically, even more annoying than the American fetishization of the mob. Most of the movie is pretty annoying just in its sheer blandness - Renée Zellweger's character might as well exist as stock footage, so cliché is her character arc as Oscar's long-suffering best friend. This might be the film's biggest mistake, since Zellweger does a pretty good job making her character sympathetic despite the lack of depth, and her character design is by far the best-looking.

With such an annoying, unlikable, and downright unattractive protagonist, Shark Tale has a lot of ground to make up right off the bat, and it doesn't try very hard. The various pop culture jokes are at best groaners (Katie Couric has a cameo as a fish reporter named "Katie Current"), and the film either makes little other attempt to appeal to adults or fails miserably at doing so. This makes the film all too similar to 2002's Dana Carvey disaster The Master of Disguise - while too manically idiotic for all but the most easily distracted children, there are too many jokes that the kids either won't get (such as the shark plot borrowing quotes, shots, and even entire characters from The Godfather, a movie released more than 20 years before the film's target audience was born) or shouldn't get (well, there's The Godfather, an R-rated film, but there's also stuff like the "Baby Got Back" reference).

It's never good to have your film fall between audiences, although most kids probably won't notice the difference. Whether a parent would want their kids watching this kind of braindead reference-fest is another question. Personally, I'd steer the kids toward Finding Nemo, which is significantly more family-friendly, as well as being smarter and better made. Shark Tale at least throws in a couple of messages, although if your kids need to learn "don't lie" and "it's okay to be yourself" from ugly, talking fish, you should probably be trying a little harder.

Shark Tale's last third isn't too bad, particularly considering what has preceded it, but it's hardly worth sitting through a miserable first hour to get to an above-average ending. A failure from just about every conceivable angle, Shark Tale's only remaining hope is that it fades into obscurity before its references have time to go stale.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10360&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/09/04 17:49:10
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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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