Something Fishy This Way Comes
Make no mistake about it, Shark Tale bears no resemblance to Finding Nemo. Instead of a family oriented movie, this under-the-sea animated film is a spoof of The Godfather movies -- and not a very good one at that. Granted, itís fun to hear Robert De Niroís voice coming out of a mafia sharkís mouth, but thatís not enough to save this film from sleeping with the fishes.
Despite a list of talented actors who lend their voices to the cartoon characters, Shark Tale lacks the charm and enchantment I expected. Oscar, the fish voiced by Will Smith, comes across as one of the least watchable animated characters ever -- plus heís difficult to understand. I canít figure out why that happened; Iíve never had trouble with Smithís fast-talking delivery before, and Iíve seen all his films. At any rate, Oscar starts out as a tongue scraper in a Whale Wash owned by Sykes (voiced by Martin Scorsese), a puffer fish in debt to Don Lino (De Niro). But our hero wants more out of life; he yearns for fame and fortune.
When one of Don Linoís sons dies after being hit by a ship's anchor, Oscar takes the credit and becomes a celebrity called ďThe Shark Slayer.Ē He wasnít a sympathetic character at the beginning of the movie, so just imagine how obnoxious he becomes while enjoying all the trappings of fame, including the attentions of Lola (voiced by Angelina Jolie), a glamorous seductress -- much to the dismay of his good friend and co-worker Angie (voiced by Renee Zellweger).
The only one who knows Oscarís secret is Lenny (voiced by Jack Black), the dead shark's brother. But Lenny has troubles of his own. Heís a gentle vegetarian who refuses to kill and eat other creatures, a fact thatís made him an outcast among his ďfamilyĒ of sharks. Oscar agrees to hide Lenny -- and their symbiotic relationship is formed. After the lies are discovered, Oscar finally realizes fame isnít what itís cracked up to be. Unfortunately, we can't help suspecting that this former "Shark Slayer" would still be basking in the limelight if he didn't have to fess up.
Nothing here to inspire the kiddies, I know. However, thereís lots of color and energetic digital animation on screen, which should appeal to them even if the story doesnít. On the other hand, most youngsters will miss the filmís numerous references to various movies like Titanic and Jaws. I realize some adults will enjoy those brief attempts at levity as well as the look of the film -- especially its glitzy underwater Times Square setting -- but, sadly, yours truly is not one of them.
(Released by DreamWorks and rated ďPGĒ for some mild language and crude humor.)