Shark Tale (2004)
User ReviewsReview this title
Opening with a detailed dive into the city of the fish Shark Tale presents a world of sight gags and moderate puns. From the star fish walk of fame through the dolphin police, through to the shots of "the top of the reef", the sequence is a bustling hive of activity. At this point I would make one valid comparison with Nemo - the graphics. Shark Tale fails to really seem as if anything is happening underwater. Yes, there are fish in the shot and yes everything intellectually should be under the sea, but where Nemo oozed and flowed in a very fluid vista Shark Tale shows colour and spectacle, but without that organic ocean feeling. This is not to say Shark Tale's graphic work is bad, simply that it does not feel waterborne.
With that aside, the cartoon images in Shark Tale are well presented, with the anthropomorphic fish taking on the facial characteristics of their voice actors. Never has (or will) a fish ever look more like Wil Smith , or acted like him. This is Wil Smith in full Fresh Prince wise-cracking mode made piscine in Oscar. Renee Zellwegger is instantly recognisable in her fish counterpart Angie, as is the vampy Angela Jolie (Lola).
The story itself revolves around Oscar's passage from an unhappy, dreaming, nobody to a famous, unhappy, somebody to a happy nobody. It's a generic, oft-repeated tale, albeit set in a world full of mafioso sharks, vengeful shrimp, and whales with poor personal hygiene.
As such, the story itself is both predictable and can be safely ignored. You can feel each step of the way long before it hits the screen. It has no surprises, and so the movie resorts to banter and set pieces to amuse.
It doesn't often succeed with these. Of the set pieces the shark funeral is by far the best part of the movie. It is hilarious and somehow moving at the same time. Lenny (Jack Black) and Don Lino (Robert De Niro) make an amusing scene in a restaurant debating with the food. The remainder, including Oscar's big fight scene, are generally uninvolving unless you have an interest in keeping an ear and eye out for the multitude of pop references - many of which are simply thrown in for no reason other than that somebody thought they should be there. Oscar's non sequiturs at the end of the great shark fight are particularly pointless and unfunny.
Some in jokes and references do work - having Ziggy Marley solemnly tell Oscar (Smith) that he's singing reggae wrong is clever. Some gags also work - the pizza ordering Octopus is a gem.
But despite playing heavily on racial stereotypes the movie as a whole feels rather bland - as if it was designed by marketers and a committee rather than by people who had a funny tale they wanted to tell.
The actors supplying the voices vary in effectiveness. Wil Smith is effectively Wil Smith, love it or hate it. Zellwegger gives a decent, if shallow, performance as the love interest, and Jolie's Lola is barely on screen long enough for her to make an impact. De Niro makes the movie as Don Lino, shark godfather, and without his presence it would be fair to say that the movie would simply be too weak to sustain interest.
The music is very MTV, and the end song sequence is atrocious - though kids will probably love it, parents should bring ear plugs for the time when Oscar releases "Missy and Christina" until you leave the cinema.
Shark Tale offers an amusing hour and a half for the children but a rather predictable and only occasionally amusing time for adults. It lacks the magic, sparkle, and dare I say bite, that was so desperately needed.
Six starfish out of a possible 10.
Remember when a few years ago there were two animated ant movies to choose from? I think they even came at the same time in the theaters in my country. One was AntZ, the other was A Bug's Life. The first one was rumoured to be more suited to adults, the other a kiddie movie. While that statement had some merit, at the end it turned out that A Bug's Life was a far better movie entertainment-wise, despite cuter characters and simpler story and all that kiddie-like appearance. AntZ were just plain dull.
Pixar seems to like choosing a simple story, one that a kid can understand, and than building upon it creating a wonderful movie for all ages. Dreamworks builds his scripts on pop-culture references and more adult themes, and while it works sometimes (Shrek was fantastic), at other times it just falls flat.
Some say it's unfair to compare Finding Nemo and Shark Tale, them being totally different movies with the only matching characteristic being antropomorphic fish, but it seems that the comparison is inevitable. It's the ants thing all over again. Finding Nemo was simply wonderful, great movie with a perfect sense of humour and memorable characters. Sure, they were cute and cuddly, but they had a soul.
Shark Tale, again, tries to appeal to the adults, but this time the results are even worse. The characters are not so important as the cast is, even so much that we are being sledgehammered on the head in who's playing who. A word to the wise - I don't care how big the names doing the voicework are, I want to immerse in the movie's story. When I saw Shrek, I didn't see Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy there, I saw Shrek and Donkey. Here I see De Niro, Smith, Scorsese and so on. At one point I even caught myself wondering why the other fish keep calling Will Smith "Oscar".
As for the story, it kind of drags along. I couldn't really sympathize with the lead character - he is at the same time stupid and so full of himself that I didn't care about his motivations or the messes he got himself into. Also, somehow the story didn't map so well in the underwater world. What is the Shark mafia exactly ? Are they supposed to be predators or criminals? Basically the mafia thing is here only to serve as a playground for mob-movie references, but it serves no purpose story-wise. Also, the entire world seems very unbelievable. Flahing electrical neon signs? Fire hydrants? It actually backfires, since instead of getting a kick out of fishes living like humans, mostly you feel like you're watching an alien movie, with the aliens resembling our world's fishes in some ways.
All in all, I did enjoy the movie, but only in the sense that I didn't feel cheated out of my money. A couple of the jokes worked, some pop-culture references were funny, the movie was not too boring. But when I remember that after Nemo or Incredibles I was smiling even a few hours after the movie, then I see that Shark Tale ain't what it possibly could be. It's just a popcorn movie, easily forgettable. And rightfully so.
What we have instead is an urban, glib, lifeless product that is market-tested and ready for consumption. An empty ghetto-fabulous morality tale loaded with pop culture references and plenty of bling-bling but no heart.
Under the ocean, Oscar (voice of Will Smith) is a tongue-scrubber at a "whale-wash" and part-time hustler. He wishes for a better life, hoping to swim his way to the top of the fish social ladder, though his coworker Angie (voice of Renee Zellweger) thinks he should be happy with who he is, and tries to subtly drop hints that she's quite taken with him.
Meanwhile, great white shark and local crime boss Don Lino (voice of Robert De Niro) is planning to turn his family business over to his two sons, Frankie and Lenny. But Lenny (voice of Jack Black) is harboring some serious issues concerning eating other fish, and the godfather is worried his weak son with reflect poorly on him.
Oscar has problems. In debt to his boss Sykes (voice of Martin Scorsese), he soon ends up in hot water. However, fate runs him smack into Frankie and Lenny. During the scuffle, an anchor accidentally kills Frankie and Oscar is mistakenly given credit for the kill. Now a media celebrity for being a "shark slayer," Oscar rides his status all the way to the top, with Sykes managing his interests and the sharks fuming that their top spot in the food chain is quickly losing its power.
Situations soon escalate and Oscar and Lenny reach an agreement: if they fake a battle and Oscar emerges triumphant, he can keep his credibility as a shark slayer and Lenny can start a new life.
"Shark Tale" openly references "The Godfather" and "Jaws" at every opportunity, which in and of itself isn't too bad except that so little is made of the main plot itself that the whole move feels like a patchwork of other, better movies, just with a meaningless hip-hop attitude. The special effects are up to par but there's nothing really special about them. The audience needs a story and characters, not just choreographed dance sequences and goofy product placements.
All this might have been negligible had the movie actually been funny. This, sadly, is not the case. I only recorded one good laugh during the screening I attended, and that involved a shark voiced by Peter Falk whose flatulence had the expected effect on a henchmen. When a fart joke is the best you have to offer, then you've got serious problems.
The story also steals shamelessly from the 1942 Disney cartoon "The Reluctant Dragon," which featured a fixed battle between a loudmouth braggart knight and a pacifist dragon to keep the locals off both their backs. That story was at least short and cute, neither of which can be said about this debacle.
Along with the plot, voice acting is pretty lifeless as well. Smith gets to indulge his ego, playing his own persona on screen once again, this time in fish form. De Niro and Scorsese seem to be having fun spoofing their own tough guy roles, but that's about it from them. The biggest surprise is how much of a laid-back performance Black gives. His trademark manic desperation is nowhere to be seen, playing instead a shockingly normal character. Had he cut loose, the scenes he's in might have been more enjoyable. What's stranger is his hiding of his vegetarian leanings from his dad is handled like an allegory for a gay person coming out to his parents.
When is Hollywood going to realize it doesn't matter how many famous actors you get to do voices for your characters; if the story sucks, then no amount of acting talent is going to save it? There are three Academy Award winners in this cast, just don't use that as a benchmark for excellence.
This all amounts to another animated project from DreamWorks high on energy and low on inspiration. After "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmarron," "Road to El Dorado" and "Sinbad" all tanked, it's clear that the "Shrek" series is the only good thing the studio has going for it right now.
Of course, there's no escaping comparison to that other computer animated fish movie, either, and that's when this film looks most wanting. Where Pixar's "Finding Nemo" swam the full depths of the ocean, "Shark Tale" seems content to just tread water in the wading pool.
4 out of 10 stars. Pretty to look at, but any movie that tries to push this much "coolness" down your throat is just asking to be despised.
I never was really interested to go and watch this movie since it got lot's of bad reviews and I thought that the trailer looked horrible and very unfunny. I however decided to pick up this movie nevertheless because I was interested in how the famous voice cast would pull off, Martin Scorsese in particular. I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the movie. the humor was spot on and I was entertained the whole time. I know lot's of people probably are going to hate me for this but I thought this movie was even better and more entertaining than any of the two Shrek movies.
The movie doesn't have a whole lot of story and is pretty average in every way. I however feel that this is one of this movies were the story really is secondary. The movie has your average love story, in which Angelina Jolie's character is really unnecessary and adds absolutely nothing, in my opinion but watching Robert De Niro's character scream and shout and giving orders to Martin Scorsese's character on the other hand was absolutely priceless.
Will Smith was a great main character and just as entertaining as Eddie Murphy in an animated movie.
I predict that the music in this movie will be absolutely hated in 20 years by now, just as much as I hate '80's music in movies now. No, I really didn't liked the songs in this movie mainly because in unlike the Shrek movies, they aren't any evergreens.
If you plan to buy this movie for your kids, think twice, you're probably better of watching "Finding Nemo" with them. If you're a adult or young adult that likes animated movies, this movie might be worth your time and money, although the humor in this movie is really a matter of taste.
"Shark Tale" plays out like an amalgam of all three classic films, and has a plot that shares uncanny parallels to the current events debate about morality and homosexuality in America. The film is set in and around a coral reef that is controlled by a "Godfather"-like mob family of great white sharks. Don Lino (Robert De Niro) is as ruthless as they come, and his two sons Frankie (Michael Imperioli) and Lenny (Jack Black) both have their eyes set on controlling the family and the reef when Lino retires.
The sharks, who run their business out of a spruced-up version of the sunken Titanic, have a reputation for routinely shaking down clients and otherwise being pretty hard on the reef, but Lenny doesn't have that killer instinct in him - he's a vegetarian - and at dinner one night, he sets a shrimp free. This comes as a shock for Don Lino, as Lenny's behavior suddenly becomes a huge embarrassment for him.
On the reef, a hustling fish named Oscar (Will Smith) is aspiring to rise out of his lowly existence working at a whale wash. He's thought up a number of schemes in the past that have all failed and his closest friend is his boss's secretary Angie (Renee Zellweger), who also has a crush on him.
Things become complicated for all the characters when Frankie is accidentally killed by a fisherman's anchor being dropped on his head while he was trying to convince Lenny to be a killer shark by feasting on Oscar, who's indebted to Don Lino for a failed horse-betting scheme. Oscar, who bore witness to the whole incident, seizes the opportunity and using his boss Sykes (Martin Scorsese) as a shameless fight promoter, becomes a hero around the reef as a shark slayer, and Lenny is forced to go into hiding as a result.
"Shark Tale" is entertaining to say the least, with enough in-jokes and gags to certainly reel in unsuspecting viewers. Even though this is a children's film, there is a lot of thematic material that is just too serious to not go at all unnoticed.
The animation is beautiful (though not as good as anything done by Pixar in the last 10 years) and it really gives the deep blue that admirable quality. The voice-acting is pretty impressive too, with all of the actors doing their best, including Angelina Jolie as the gold-digging Lola.
Could somebody please tell Dreamworks Animation that if they want to be
respected on the same level as Pixar, they need to stop being so insecure about whether their films will sell, and give their artists more breathing room? I'm not talking about PDI, the guys that produced Shrek, I'm talking about the Dreamworks Animation guys who made that Sinbad movie with Brad Pitt, then (like Disney) permanently switched to 3-D animation and are now releasing Shark Tale.
Many will compare Shark Tale to Finding Nemo, a rather unfair comparison since aside from both being CG-animated underwater stories involving sharks somehow, the films have very little in common, in terms of both plot and aesthetic decisions. In fact, Shark Tale has the demeanor of a Pretty Good film that's been taken away from the artists, repackaged by marketing and forced down the public's throat by too many damn movie stars.
Every aspect of this film feels forced, from the voice casting to the character design to the corporate "it's hot cause we tell you it is" music to the excessive fish puns (all of which are of the "I get it, but I ain't laughing" variety) to the fact that the film's title was changed in post-production from the perfectly appropriate "Sharkslayer" to the safer, dumbed-down "Shark Tale". With the exception of Lenny (Jack Black), the face of every major character, and a few of the minor ones too, is made to look exactly like its voice actor's face strapped to a fish, which is about three steps away from selling your soul and freedom to imagine entirely. Even Shrek didn't stoop so low as to put Eddie Murphy's face on a donkey. Donkey just looks like a donkey, end of story! The characters in Shark Tale, meanwhile, look like 3-D caricatures blown up to the big screen. Jack Black, usually a comic force to be reckoned with, feels wasted here, as he jettisons his usual persona for a dumb Horshack imitation. Hey, why not actually hire Ron Palillo, the guy who PLAYED Horshack? He's still alive, and could probably use the work...but oh yeah, the kids have never heard of him, and we need stars, so screw that.
You see, back in the days of Pinocchio and Snow White, with occasional exceptions (like Ukelele Ike as Jiminy Crickett) nobody knew or cared who did these characters' voices, because they were attracted to the characters themselves, not the actors behind them. None of the voice actors in Shark Tale do less-than-adequate jobs, but with the exception of Robert DeNiro (who's just a Really Great Actor, period) none of them really contributed anything truly endearing to their characters, that a lesser-known actor wouldn't have. I certainly can't say the same for Finding Nemo, in which the voices, if not perfect, were damn close.
Uh-oh, Will Smith's character just realized that even though he gained wealth and fame, he lost the thing in his life that REALLY mattered! Cue Alicia Keys! (or the biggest Alicia Keys clone we can get to record a new song for the soundtrack).
I admit, the film does contain a few funny moments, enough to make it worth renting (on half-price Tuesday of course) when the DVD comes out. But just when the film is starting to get good (the climactic showdown/chase scene is surprisingly well done) the movie ends by pulling the worst blow of them all: Not only is there a Christina Aguilera/Missy Elliot duet over the end credits, THEY ACTUALLY DESIGNED FISH THAT LOOKED LIKE THOSE TWO TO SING IT IN THE FILM, LIKE A LIVE PERFORMANCE! IT'S NOT A LIVE PERFORMANCE, YOU JERKS - IT'S ANIMATED, NO ONE WITH ANY BRAINS AT ALL WILL BUY IT! Think about it for a second - Christina Aguilera comes in to record her vocals for MAYBE an hour, on a song that she didn't write and isn't producing, and then some poor unseen animator is told "Oh yeah, you have to design and animate a Christina Aguilera fish. Do it or you're fired." The sequence causes dumb kids to buy more Christina albums under the premise that she's magical enough to turn into a fish or something, and that animator is left nameless, and pondering just why and how his life got to that sad, sad, SAD point.
Keep in mind that Pixar, for their lead roles, have cast the likes of Dave Foley, Albert Brooks and Craig T. Nelson, three good comedic actors without a single live-action megahit to their names. While Shark Tale fills every available moment with lame corporate music (gotta sell the soundtrack, and kids won't listen to instrumental scores, right?) Finding Nemo contained only one song, and it was a slightly-redone version of the lounge classic "Beyond the Sea." Is it cool? Pixa doesn't worry about not being cool, be cause Pixar just IS cool.
Dreamworks Animation tries too hard to be cool, and thus fails miserably.
One and a half stars.
- Tony Goldmark
My two cents, keep the change.
I would love to be able to say that SHARK TALE ended up being better than expected, as I really didn't have high expectations.... but it truly is one of the few films I have seen that actually managed to live down to my expectations.
It reeks of being made by committee meeting film-making to simply cash in on the CGI boom. Technically it looks good, but it is just plain dull, unfunny and downright annoying... particularly Will Smith. Someone should tell Smith that he is incredibly annoying when playing himself (like he did in I, ROBOT), and that he should use some of the acting skills that he's proved in the past that he has.
I think the best thing Dreamworks can possibly do is to poach the entire staff of Pixar, then their next CGI film might have some heart and an actual story that is engaging on all levels... and for all ages.
I am now looking forward to seeing OPEN WATER, as I'm sure it will have a lot more laughs than SHARK TALE.
Smith plays Oscar, a down on his luck fish who works as a tongue scraper at a Whale Wash. With dreams of making it big and moving up in the world, Oscar is a no-hoper who constantly bleeds his heart out to loyal friend Angie (Renee Zellwenger). When things take a turn for the worse however, Oscar inadvertently kills a shark and a media icon. Now with a Vegetarian shark (Jack Black) for company, Oscar must survive popularity, and the growing threat of Shark Godfather Don Lino (Robert DeNiro).
On paper, any film which involves a Shark spoof of all Italian mafia films, should be hilarious. Truthfully, at times it shows signs of reaching this peak, but all too often it drifts away to leave us feeling bitter disappointment.
DeNiro and friend Martin Scorsese appear to enjoy poking fun at a genre which they are culturally renowned, but with one or two jokes which are either stolen from elsewhere (a scene involving Smith's character at a Mafia meeting is a replica of a scene from 1999's "Analyze This") or based on seemingly personal stories, the story never clicks. Still, DeNiro and Scorsese are more tolerable compared with Will Smith's role.
As Oscar the fish, Will Smith simply plays himself. It is like watching the Freshwater Prince of Bel-Air or something equally pointless. Smith walks around making irritating comments, wearing "bling" and generally making a fool of himself. Will Smith has proved in the past that whether comedy or drama, he CAN act, but the man is fast loosing any support with performances like this where he plays an old character in new surroundings. Perhaps it's time his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith convinced him to actually lay this Fresh Prince character to bed and actually do more challenging work. Sadly, this probably won't happen.
Aside from Smith, DeNiro and Scorsese, "Shark Tale" also features vocal performances by Jack Black, Renee Zellwenger and Angelina Jolie. These three actors are famous for different styles of work, and they are worth mentioning for their performances in "Shark Tale" purely for the fact that they aren't awful. They're not particularly superb, with even Black seeming subdued, but they don't stand out as awful. They're simply mediocre.
Another flaw with "Shark Tale" is a problem faced also by "Shrek 2" (also 2004). Whilst the later film was at times hilarious, it did possess a lot of jokes about current television series which might not be remembered in the future. The same is true in "Shark Tale". At first appearance, Smith's character appears in a fantastic apartment and is showing the furniture off. Blatantly joking about a modern MTV programme called "Cribs" the jokes are not only unfunny, but they won't last beyond a few years, if even that.
All in all, there is little praise that can be given to "Shark Tale". A woeful story with little going for it, it fails on all levels and whilst it is harsh to say it should never have been made, it most definitely needed more rethinking. Should be avoided at all costs.
Let me give you a Jamaican perspective. I'm not taking anything from Ziggy Marley (Ernie) & Doug E. Doug (Bernie); they both couldn't have done the 'Jellyfish Rastas Duo' roles better. But seriously now, both roles were controversially laced with cuss words taken from the Jamaican dialect (thankfully that most Americans don't understand). And so, I felt quite embarrassed listening to the context in how it was done. I'm proud of my Jamaican culture and dialect and that many people would love to learn & experience it. But the writers just can't incorporate cuss words into a kid's movie like that.
It might be funny to some, but it also sends a negative message to the younger audience about different cultures. I wouldn't be surprised if, people walk out on this one when this comes out in the Caribbean.
Will Smith takes the role of Oscar, a yellow fish living in the ghetto. His home was taken from him by the Government for the sake of gentrification and since then he has lived a life of poverty. Despite his poor living conditions he is still willing to stand up to the man and defend his rights as an African American.
In the movie he desperately craves fame and wealth, and is willing to betray his fellow hood-members to do so. This eventually comes back to hurt him, however, when his lies are discovered by the masses and he learns his lesson that black fish have to stick up for one another.
In the opening sequence a Japanese fish is seen opening his sushi restaurant, only to be disappointed at the lack of customers, showing the hatred of immigrants in modern America.
Others like Nemo, Monsters and other films such as Shrek, Tarzan etc had a quality story if the animation or CGI was not the very best.
Shark Tale had quite good CGI but that was all. The characters were so dull my son asked me to switch off after 20 minutes!. I later watched the whole movie on my own and I have to say it was the worst movie for kids I have seem in a long time. So was it made for kids or teens/adults?. I think the key problems were - 1) Everything. If I could score below 1/10 I would have.
Ps: I loved to see the famous voices and the looks of famous actors/actresses/directors in this film! Will Smith Robert De Niro Renée Zellweger Jack Black Angelina Jolie Martin Scorsese and Christina Aguilera was some of them!:)
I enjoyed this movie years ago and still enjoy watching it now, i think it is very funny for an animated movie, and i am sure many people will think the same. It has some great actors / actresses doing the voices for the characters. I would recommend this movie if you are a big animation fan. It has good music too. I also like the story line, sweet...
Well worth a 7 / 10... maybe even more.
It's about Oscar the fish (Will Smith) who works at the Whale Wash is tired of living like a commoner and dreams about the lifestyle of the rich and famous. He works for a puffer fish named Sykes (sp?) whose business is controlled by the Shark mafia headed by Don Lino (obviously Robert Di Niro). Oscar owes Sykes a lot of money and is given one last chance to get it back for him. He tries to do so and fails and is about to be killed by the mafia's jellyfish henchman (Ziggy Marley and Doug E. Doug) and Don Lino's "vegetarian" son Lenny (Jack Black) and his brother who is trying to teach him how to be a killer. The brother is killed by an anchor dropping on him and a distraught Lenny flees. The jellyfish return to find Oscar standing over the body and think that he killed him. Oscar decides to go along with this story and is instantly famous for being the Shark Slayer. He ends up befriending and teaming up with Lenny in an attempt to keep up this appearance.
This movie has some hilarious scenes and some really funny and sneaky references to other movies and things. It is very entertaining for people of all ages and even though it is almost 10 years old, still has bright vivid colors and the animation does a great job of capturing life under the sea.
The cast lend their voices to the spirited sea creatures. The beginning of the story is really amazing. A typical animation move, taking audiences around the scenery. With many jokes as 'play on words' e.g. Coral Cola the audience are awarded cheap laughs and wonder how the producers come up with these ideas, its conventional but I believe its a technique that all audiences appreciate.
Its an inconsistent plot with many engaging scenes but many questionable scenes. After the beginning you wondered is Smith's cool character Oscar was being given too much camera time. Once Zellweger's conventional boy-fish wanting fish came into the story did a sense of predictability arise.
However its one of those films you know is awful but you enjoy it anyway. It is engaging because you wonder how the characters are going to fare with each other. The relationship between the under sea creatures is healthy and believable but always enjoyable to observe, despite maybe some people saying its predictable, clichéd etc.
It's a slow moving story with typical human like ideologies put forth by director Bergerson. Money, family loyalty, betrayal, friendship and trust are all encoded so audience's can appreciate the film.
There are a few twists used, perhaps in the wrong way but are still interesting to observe. The ending is atrocious. Never in my life have I seen a film end so badly. I was shaking my head and couldn't believe it. The soundtrack to the film is amazing. Upbeat energetic pop and reggae music are used for a variety of uses, mainly to encourage the scene to be enjoyable.
There is never doubting the effects which are stunning. If you want any proof then observe De Niro's shark character which looks exactly like him.
a film for the whole family - not the best animation but still enjoyable for cheap laughs and funny characters