Directors: Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson, Rob
Producers: Bill Damaschke, Janet Healy, Allison
Written by: Rob Letterman, Damian Shannon,
Mark Swift, Michael J. Wilson
Cast: Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renée
Zellweger, Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorsese, Michael
Imperioli, Peter Falk, Doug E. Doug, Ziggy Marley, Vincent Pastore,
Katie Couric, Christina Aguilera, Missy “Misdemeanor”
In the new computer-generated, animated feature, Shark Tale,
Dreamworks again uses the tried strategy of casting Hollywood’s
top talent and celebrities as the main characters, even though that
did not attract audiences for the previous animated Dreamworks movie,
Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas. Shark Tale’s biggest
problem is that there are essentially no characters—just movie
stars playing to type (though stereotype is a more appropriate word
here). And that’s the problem with animated movies like this.
They are incredibly dumb and lame with the focus on pretty—or
ugly in this movie’s case—visuals, cookie-cutter plots
and characters, dumb pop culture references, and cheesy references
to more classic movies to appease the parents whom kids drag to
the movie. Pixar’s movies will always be better, since they
model their stories in the vein of Hayao Miyazaki
and focus on strongly written, fleshed-out characters and compelling
narratives. Even though the so-called characters in this film may
have been drawn in 3-D, they are anything but.
Shark Tale’s story has been told a thousand times
before and a thousand times better. Oscar (Smith)
is an ambitious fish who lives in the Southside Reef (which looks
a lot like Times Square) and works at the local whale-wash. He’s
got dreams of getting out of his job and moving up in life, being
a “somebody” and living in the penthouses. The problem
is he’s in debt to his blowfish boss, Sykes (Scorsese),
who’s ready to have his Rastafarian jellyfish thugs, Bernie
(Doug) and Ernie (Marley) take
him out if he doesn’t deliver. His “Hot for Oscar”
and best friend, Angie (Zellweger) is madly in
love with him and gives up a precious, family heirloom in order
to save his life. This illustrates just how poor this movie is since
there is no explanation of why a “sweet fish” like Angie
loves a schmuck like Oscar, who gambles away the money he received
for Angie’s jewel and is an uncaring jerk.
There’s also the Great White Godfather shark mobster, Don
Lino (De Niro), who’s growing increasingly
impatient with his pro-life, vegetarian son Lenny (Black).
After a mishap and freak accident, Oscar inevitably takes credit
for the death of Lenny’s brother Frankie (Imperioli).
Since the reef lives in constant fear of sharks, Oscar is crowned
the hero and suddenly living the life he has always wanted. Matters
are complicated when Oscar meets and befriends Lenny and Don Lino
wants revenge on the “Shark Slayer.” But first Oscar
has to learn there is more to life than being rich, famous, and
dating Lola (Jolie, playing—what else—a
seductive, slutty, “gold-digging” fish).
Will kids enjoy this movie? Yes they will. Will adults or parents?
Well, I’m not sure. Some adults may be tickled by the absolute
absurdity of Marty Scorsese speaking in ebonics and dressing like
a pimp or the riffing of The Godfather and the Mafia, but
it might be easier to take for some audiences than others. The movie’s
general messages of “lying is bad and only makes things worse”
and being who you are provide good advice, and are things kids (and
adults) should learn, yet the film is just really lame and sells
its themes poorly.
The movie is loaded with pop culture references and dated jokes
(I think I even heard “Wazzzzzuuuup” and “Da bomb!”
at one point) which probably wouldn’t be funny even when everyone
was saying them. The pop culture jokes are nothing more than modified
product placements of brand-names, altered to be more undersea friendly.
I seriously wanted to apply a Sharpshooter to whoever came up with
crap like “Kelpy Kreme,” “Fish King,” “The
Gup,” and “Coral-Cola.” The other characters are
voiced by familiar personalities like Katie Current (Couric),
Luca The Octopus (Pastore), and Don Brizzi (Columbo
himself, Falk). There’s also a cameo by singers
Missy Elliott and Christina Aguilera,
doing their cover of the song “Car Wash” in the movie’s
worst, most derivative, and superfluous sequence. It’s yet
another impeccable casting and appearance with Aguilera, who shows
up as an ugly jellyfish. And really, what’s more appropriate
than Aguilera being a harmful, deadly creature that will sting you
if you touch it?
Shark Tale delivers another totally commercial, disposable
piece of Hollywood garbage that will probably make some good money,
and with Dreamworks’ stroke, perhaps get an Academy Award
nomination for best animated feature. However, the Academy would
be better served in pushing Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence,
thus far the best-animated film of the year.
—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...