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The sea underworld is shaken up when the son of the shark mob boss is found dead and a young fish named Oscar is found at the scene. Being a bottom feeder, Oscar takes advantage of the situation and makes himself look like he killed the finned mobster. Oscar soon comes to realize that his claim may have serious consequences. Written by
"Shark Tale" is a "fishy" tale, all right, but a worthwhile one
I have to admit going into this review that I didn't at all have the slightest hopes of liking "Shark Tale." From the previews last fall, it reminded me a little too much of Pixar's "Finding Nemo." Not so, as I would later find out. "Shark Tale" draws much of its inspirations, as noted by critic Roger Ebert, from "Casablanca," "Jaws," and "The Godfather" - all movies that are considered to be modern American classics.
"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.
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