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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.49%
Worth A Look: 11.49%
Pretty Bad: 24.14%
Total Crap: 13.79%

7 reviews, 45 user ratings

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Shark Tale
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"The ‘Joey’ Of Animated Spin-Offs"
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: For years and years I’ve preached that animated films have an instinctual leg-up on all the live-action fare out there because they allow themselves the time to refine the story and pack-in the laughs. Even before Pixar reinvented the Acme wheel, it would still take years for the filmmakers to create these works and just by default could wind up improving the script or finding the right voice actors. Save for the occasional passing adventure like Road To El Dorado or Sinbad, the big seasonal event fare have ranked from very good to all-out masterpieces. October isn’t quite the holiday season nor does it qualify for summer, but that’s no excuse for Shark Tale being the underwhelming stale concoction that it is.

Imagine the sharks from Finding Nemo getting their own spinoff movie and you’ve got the beginning of a pitch meeting at Dreamworks Animation, Pixar’s arch-nemesis. Someone might as well have suggested Jabberjaw get his own movie. That’s just a bad idea. But Shark Tale had a promising one whose creativity seemed to fly down a whirlpool as fast as the film changed its title.

Lenny (voiced by Jack Black) doesn’t exactly fit in amongst the top of the food chain. He doesn’t have the killer instinct to feast on the cute little crawfish or even the worms left up for bait. Now Lenny finds himself on the hook from the Family. Yes, sharks are of the Mafioso lineage and Don Lino (Robert DeNiro) doesn’t want his youngest son behaving like such a sissy. Maybe the gay culture will find a hero in Lenny's refuse-to-conform attitude.

Oscar, as voiced by Will Smith, is your average wacky inner-sea-city fish with big dreams and a lot of talk. A LOT of talk! If only he can get out of the film’s one treasured creation, the Whale Wash, the audience can stop hearing that damned “Car Wash” song for the fourth time during the movie. Being in the wrong place at the right time, Oscar inadvertently causes the death of Lenny’s brother and is heralded as a hero for the oft-terrorized shark snacks. Dubbed the Sharkslayer, Oscar takes full advantage of his fame and teams up with the presumed dead Lenny to punctuate the façade.

Quick Quiz – What’s a cooler sounding title? Shark Tale or Sharkslayer?

The brass at Dreamworks thought just the opposite when they felt Slayer would have been too scary for children and send the wrong message. They’ve also taken the focus off of the main character, Oscar, and duped audiences into believing we’re seeing a film about the sharks. Shrek was not called Donkey. Finding Nemo wasn’t Fishtank and Toy Story wasn’t The Chronicles of Buzz. And I sure as hell didn’t sign up for Shark Tale being another miscasted travesty in the Will Smith canon.

Remember who Will Smith played in the 19th century Wild Wild West? That’s right, Will Smith. How about in the futuristic I, Robot? Right again. Animators love to take the persona of their celebrity voices and have fun with the makeup of their characters. On display you’ll see DeNiro’s mole, Martin Scorsese’s eyebrows and Angelina Jolie’s lips. It doesn’t stop there with Smith though as his entire backdrop, soundtrack and aged humor surrounds Oscar and everything he does. (M.C. Hammer jokes, are you SERIOUS?) When he finally gets down to infecting Scorsese’s mafia hanger-on with the fizzle-shizzle mannerisms, it’s a low point for Marty that has to rival his pained look at the 2002 Gangs of No Oscars or absorbing his loss to Kevin Costner in 1990.

Shark Tale is beautifully animated and may be enough to distract kids with the pretty colors, but adults and savvy animation fans are likely to recognize the lack of effort in the humor department. Where films like Shrek and Toy Story pack punch into their throwaway jokes by never calling attention to them, Shark Tale punctuates them as if they are the funniest things the writers have ever seen. The Shark Mafia gets all the best lines and are meticulously delivered by the likes of DeNiro, Peter Falk and Scorsese (whose early scenes aren’t nearly as embarrassing.) Renee Zellweger’s angelfish gets a nice dig to Jerry Maguire, but Black’s Lenny is awfully lifeless and Smith is as irritatingly one-note as ever. This effort barely qualifies as bait to catch the attention of its rivals, since many of them are far higher up the food chain to notice.

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originally posted: 10/01/04 14:00:46
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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
11/22/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 3 stars
8/02/07 SweetPossum people only diss it because of actors. the plot and animation and chacters was great. 5 stars
2/24/07 Austin Wertman a disappointment 3 stars
5/29/06 drydock54321 very entertaining 4 stars
5/16/06 Fruit-Loop Has it's moments but I wased bored. 5.2\10 3 stars
5/04/06 ES 'How to come out to your parents,' the cartoon! 2 stars
4/02/06 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
2/07/06 Anthony A great family movie 4 stars
2/02/06 Mary E. Gur It was a fun movie 5 stars
1/09/06 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
9/22/05 Jonathon Holmes save your money for "The Incredibles" 2 stars
9/18/05 ryan it was awsome. the sharks were awsome! 5 stars
9/11/05 Harvey Birdman YOU LIAR its the best movie you loser 5 stars
8/27/05 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
3/02/05 Rapunzel Gladstone Furthermore, Allison, the sharls have both nostrils and gills; the bony fish have neither! 3 stars
3/02/05 Allison Lafferty Full of goofs: drinking glasses under water, burst balloons sinking under water, etc.! 3 stars
2/21/05 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
2/19/05 april gupton cute 4 stars
2/18/05 Eileen Lammers Cute, lots of fun and laughs 5 stars
1/29/05 Richard Brandt Mildly amusing to see the stars caricatured as fish 3 stars
1/03/05 Chance Lame. It wasn't funny or entertaining. 1 stars
12/12/04 ELI Proof that there is no God 1 stars
12/09/04 Quanisha I loved it 5 stars
11/21/04 er FUCKING SHIT 1 stars
11/06/04 TCIC I didn't laugh once. It was a shoddy merging of Nemo and Shrek 2 stars
11/03/04 Tiff I thought the film was funny, and while educating 5 stars
10/26/04 willjake still a nemo girl thru n thru but did laff all da way thru dis!!! 4 stars
10/18/04 Thylaylii Meh, so/so. Couldn't get over the ugliness of some of the characters, which was unfortunate 3 stars
10/15/04 kait clark funny for teenagers 5 stars
10/12/04 Simon Khalil if the movie is half as good as the soundtrack it will be an entertaining 90 minutes.. 4 stars
10/11/04 Ron L. A humorous propaganda film for the gay movement 2 stars
10/10/04 Tyrantis Why Jack Black, why? 1 stars
10/01/04 Kris Finding Nemo's retarded little brother that no one likes 1 stars
9/27/04 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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