Shark Tale


Will Smith as Oscar
Robert De Niro as Don Lino
Renee Zellweger as Angie
Jack Black as Lenny
Angelina Jolie as Lola
Martin Scorsese as Sykes
Katie Couric as Katie Current
Doug E Doug as Bernie
Peter Falk as Don Brizzi
Michael Imperioli as Frankie
James Madio as Vinnie
Ziggy Marley as Ernie
Vincent Pastore as Luca

Shark Tale is an entertaining-enough romp about a little fish in a big pond, but sadly a lot of the jokes fall flat and the characters grow tiresome.

Oscar (Will Smith) is a fast talking little fish whose big dreams have a habit of landing him in hot water. Lenny (Jack Black) is a great white shark with a sensitive side… and he is a closet vegetarian. When a great white lie turns Oscar into an improbable hero and the truth about Lenny makes him an outcast, these two become the most unlikely of friends.

Shark Tale is Rated PG for some mild language and crude humor.

What Worked:
Kudos to Dreamworks Animation… Shark Tale looks great. The reef the main characters inhabit is shimmering with vibrant colors and detail. Conceptually, the film also shines with the highlight being the intricacies of the Whale Wash – where Oscar, Angie and Skyes work. The performances – in voice only of course – fall all across the spectrum. Zellweger and the two jellyfish – Ziggy Marley and Doug E Doug, turn in the best work in the film. Jolie was good as the seductress, but she is barely in the film.

The music is solid and fits the urban feel of the film. It was good to hear Car Wash again after all these years, even if Christina Aguilera was singing. Where for art thou Rose Royce?!

What Didn’t Work:
The film was criticized before its release about its treatment of ethnic stereotypes. Hogwash, the studio said… and I agree. The problem is not that the film has ethnic stereotypes – it does. The real problem is that the material is so tired. De Niro a mobster? Really? Will Smith a bling-fiend? What? Scorsese a manic? Ugh! Folks will likely argue that these performances were parodies… send-ups of past film roles. No… they were the same performances. De Niro was channeling Paul Vidi, Smith… the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Scorsese… well, Scorsese.

It is probably a little sad that I wanted more from this film, but I did. I wanted to care about Oscar… and I didn’t.

Shark Tale is not a bad film, but I don’t know if it will be a run-away success for Dreamworks like Shrek was. Kids should enjoy the humor and the atmosphere created by the animators. Stay for the credits… the hermit crab has some additional wisdom to share.