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Shark Tale


A dropped anchor kills a mob boss's son, instantly making poor little Oscar (Will Smith) a celebrity in fish city. Suddenly a 'somebody', he has to learn that you shouldn't forget where you came from just because you're famous. Add the aforementioned mob boss (Robert DeNiro) into the mix, and Oscar is in serious hot water.

What I Thought

As with all the recent computer animated movies, the animation is very good. Nothing that took my breath away, but that is not a negative as the movie isn't trying to break new ground in animation (and the whole fish thing has already been covered in Finding Nemo).

As to the storyline, while mostly fun and funny, this movie has its moments of weakness.

Did you see Cats & Dogs? That movie features a combination of live animal action with animatronics and CGI animals. The scenes themselves felt a bit rushed because I think the director realized that after the first five minutes of a talking animal, the concept wears thin pretty quickly. So the dialog is sped up and scenes are shortened, making it feel much more like a production line of scenes. Scene one, go. Done. Scene two, go. Done. Etc.

That is how I felt in parts of Shark Tale. Rushed. You're not given a sense of time. Once Oscar is made a celebrity, it feels like the rest of the action happens in half an hour of movie-time. You may say this is a commentary on fame, but that's just an excuse. It just felt rushed.

Lots of semi-funny moments with little details, like the empty sushi restaurant, or the different brands in the Times Square analog (like The Gup (Gap) or Coral Cola). I wonder if companies still pay for the product placement even if it's not the true product, since the logos are still used.

Yes, sadly that's what I was thinking about when watching that scene, product placement. That's not what I would want to have an audience member thinking if I were the director... (similar to the Times Square scene in the first Spiderman movie).

But ultimately those funny moments feel a bit forced. The shark mob is stereotypically Italian (a pretty funny Robert DeNiro--and notice the shark comes with his mole as well). Will Smith tells a puffer fish (Martin Scorsese) that he can't high five because he's a "white fish". Hah hah. And the mob boss's other son (Jack Black) is a swishy wimpy vegetarian shark who begs his father to accept his lifestyle choice (and dresses in drag, oops, I mean as a dolphin). If you want gay as a metaphor, go see the X-Men instead, they did it better, but didn't pander to the stereotypes.

I think they were trying for "edgy", but to me it fell a little flat. Don't get me wrong, it's still a funny movie, and it works pretty well. But I saw it the day after seeing the Incredibles, and Pixar IS the current master of good CGI movies.


All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.