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Shark Tale
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63 out of 89 people found the following review useful:

Mildly amusing, but no bite.

6/10
Author: wxid from New Zealand
21 September 2004

Shark Tale is doubtlessly going to be endlessly compared to Pixar's "Finding Nemo". It is unfortunate that Shark Tale comes out the lesser of the two movies, but truly comparing the two is generally a fruitless exercise.

Opening with a detailed dive into the city of the fish Shark Tale presents a world of sight gags and moderate puns. From the star fish walk of fame through the dolphin police, through to the shots of "the top of the reef", the sequence is a bustling hive of activity. At this point I would make one valid comparison with Nemo - the graphics. Shark Tale fails to really seem as if anything is happening underwater. Yes, there are fish in the shot and yes everything intellectually should be under the sea, but where Nemo oozed and flowed in a very fluid vista Shark Tale shows colour and spectacle, but without that organic ocean feeling. This is not to say Shark Tale's graphic work is bad, simply that it does not feel waterborne.

With that aside, the cartoon images in Shark Tale are well presented, with the anthropomorphic fish taking on the facial characteristics of their voice actors. Never has (or will) a fish ever look more like Wil Smith , or acted like him. This is Wil Smith in full Fresh Prince wise-cracking mode made piscine in Oscar. Renee Zellwegger is instantly recognisable in her fish counterpart Angie, as is the vampy Angela Jolie (Lola).

The story itself revolves around Oscar's passage from an unhappy, dreaming, nobody to a famous, unhappy, somebody to a happy nobody. It's a generic, oft-repeated tale, albeit set in a world full of mafioso sharks, vengeful shrimp, and whales with poor personal hygiene.

As such, the story itself is both predictable and can be safely ignored. You can feel each step of the way long before it hits the screen. It has no surprises, and so the movie resorts to banter and set pieces to amuse.

It doesn't often succeed with these. Of the set pieces the shark funeral is by far the best part of the movie. It is hilarious and somehow moving at the same time. Lenny (Jack Black) and Don Lino (Robert De Niro) make an amusing scene in a restaurant debating with the food. The remainder, including Oscar's big fight scene, are generally uninvolving unless you have an interest in keeping an ear and eye out for the multitude of pop references - many of which are simply thrown in for no reason other than that somebody thought they should be there. Oscar's non sequiturs at the end of the great shark fight are particularly pointless and unfunny.

Some in jokes and references do work - having Ziggy Marley solemnly tell Oscar (Smith) that he's singing reggae wrong is clever. Some gags also work - the pizza ordering Octopus is a gem.

But despite playing heavily on racial stereotypes the movie as a whole feels rather bland - as if it was designed by marketers and a committee rather than by people who had a funny tale they wanted to tell.

The actors supplying the voices vary in effectiveness. Wil Smith is effectively Wil Smith, love it or hate it. Zellwegger gives a decent, if shallow, performance as the love interest, and Jolie's Lola is barely on screen long enough for her to make an impact. De Niro makes the movie as Don Lino, shark godfather, and without his presence it would be fair to say that the movie would simply be too weak to sustain interest.

The music is very MTV, and the end song sequence is atrocious - though kids will probably love it, parents should bring ear plugs for the time when Oscar releases "Missy and Christina" until you leave the cinema.

Shark Tale offers an amusing hour and a half for the children but a rather predictable and only occasionally amusing time for adults. It lacks the magic, sparkle, and dare I say bite, that was so desperately needed.

Six starfish out of a possible 10.

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78 out of 122 people found the following review useful:

Not too bad, but not too good either.

5/10
Author: baba44713 from Croatia
21 December 2004

Round two of the Pixar/Dreamworks choose-a-theme competition scores once again for Pixar.

Remember when a few years ago there were two animated ant movies to choose from? I think they even came at the same time in the theaters in my country. One was AntZ, the other was A Bug's Life. The first one was rumoured to be more suited to adults, the other a kiddie movie. While that statement had some merit, at the end it turned out that A Bug's Life was a far better movie entertainment-wise, despite cuter characters and simpler story and all that kiddie-like appearance. AntZ were just plain dull.

Pixar seems to like choosing a simple story, one that a kid can understand, and than building upon it creating a wonderful movie for all ages. Dreamworks builds his scripts on pop-culture references and more adult themes, and while it works sometimes (Shrek was fantastic), at other times it just falls flat.

Some say it's unfair to compare Finding Nemo and Shark Tale, them being totally different movies with the only matching characteristic being antropomorphic fish, but it seems that the comparison is inevitable. It's the ants thing all over again. Finding Nemo was simply wonderful, great movie with a perfect sense of humour and memorable characters. Sure, they were cute and cuddly, but they had a soul.

Shark Tale, again, tries to appeal to the adults, but this time the results are even worse. The characters are not so important as the cast is, even so much that we are being sledgehammered on the head in who's playing who. A word to the wise - I don't care how big the names doing the voicework are, I want to immerse in the movie's story. When I saw Shrek, I didn't see Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy there, I saw Shrek and Donkey. Here I see De Niro, Smith, Scorsese and so on. At one point I even caught myself wondering why the other fish keep calling Will Smith "Oscar".

As for the story, it kind of drags along. I couldn't really sympathize with the lead character - he is at the same time stupid and so full of himself that I didn't care about his motivations or the messes he got himself into. Also, somehow the story didn't map so well in the underwater world. What is the Shark mafia exactly ? Are they supposed to be predators or criminals? Basically the mafia thing is here only to serve as a playground for mob-movie references, but it serves no purpose story-wise. Also, the entire world seems very unbelievable. Flahing electrical neon signs? Fire hydrants? It actually backfires, since instead of getting a kick out of fishes living like humans, mostly you feel like you're watching an alien movie, with the aliens resembling our world's fishes in some ways.

All in all, I did enjoy the movie, but only in the sense that I didn't feel cheated out of my money. A couple of the jokes worked, some pop-culture references were funny, the movie was not too boring. But when I remember that after Nemo or Incredibles I was smiling even a few hours after the movie, then I see that Shark Tale ain't what it possibly could be. It's just a popcorn movie, easily forgettable. And rightfully so.

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110 out of 190 people found the following review useful:

Lifeless product of Hollywood groupthink, devoid of even the slightest inspiration

4/10
Author: filmbuff-36 from Houston, TX
2 December 2004

Had "Shark Tale" had even an iota of the wit and charm that seems to have little trouble finding its way into Pixar's creations, the movie might have been more enjoyable. At the least the filmmakers could have snuck in some funny social commentary through the veil of animation.

What we have instead is an urban, glib, lifeless product that is market-tested and ready for consumption. An empty ghetto-fabulous morality tale loaded with pop culture references and plenty of bling-bling but no heart.

Under the ocean, Oscar (voice of Will Smith) is a tongue-scrubber at a "whale-wash" and part-time hustler. He wishes for a better life, hoping to swim his way to the top of the fish social ladder, though his coworker Angie (voice of Renee Zellweger) thinks he should be happy with who he is, and tries to subtly drop hints that she's quite taken with him.

Meanwhile, great white shark and local crime boss Don Lino (voice of Robert De Niro) is planning to turn his family business over to his two sons, Frankie and Lenny. But Lenny (voice of Jack Black) is harboring some serious issues concerning eating other fish, and the godfather is worried his weak son with reflect poorly on him.

Oscar has problems. In debt to his boss Sykes (voice of Martin Scorsese), he soon ends up in hot water. However, fate runs him smack into Frankie and Lenny. During the scuffle, an anchor accidentally kills Frankie and Oscar is mistakenly given credit for the kill. Now a media celebrity for being a "shark slayer," Oscar rides his status all the way to the top, with Sykes managing his interests and the sharks fuming that their top spot in the food chain is quickly losing its power.

Situations soon escalate and Oscar and Lenny reach an agreement: if they fake a battle and Oscar emerges triumphant, he can keep his credibility as a shark slayer and Lenny can start a new life.

"Shark Tale" openly references "The Godfather" and "Jaws" at every opportunity, which in and of itself isn't too bad except that so little is made of the main plot itself that the whole move feels like a patchwork of other, better movies, just with a meaningless hip-hop attitude. The special effects are up to par but there's nothing really special about them. The audience needs a story and characters, not just choreographed dance sequences and goofy product placements.

All this might have been negligible had the movie actually been funny. This, sadly, is not the case. I only recorded one good laugh during the screening I attended, and that involved a shark voiced by Peter Falk whose flatulence had the expected effect on a henchmen. When a fart joke is the best you have to offer, then you've got serious problems.

The story also steals shamelessly from the 1942 Disney cartoon "The Reluctant Dragon," which featured a fixed battle between a loudmouth braggart knight and a pacifist dragon to keep the locals off both their backs. That story was at least short and cute, neither of which can be said about this debacle.

Along with the plot, voice acting is pretty lifeless as well. Smith gets to indulge his ego, playing his own persona on screen once again, this time in fish form. De Niro and Scorsese seem to be having fun spoofing their own tough guy roles, but that's about it from them. The biggest surprise is how much of a laid-back performance Black gives. His trademark manic desperation is nowhere to be seen, playing instead a shockingly normal character. Had he cut loose, the scenes he's in might have been more enjoyable. What's stranger is his hiding of his vegetarian leanings from his dad is handled like an allegory for a gay person coming out to his parents.

When is Hollywood going to realize it doesn't matter how many famous actors you get to do voices for your characters; if the story sucks, then no amount of acting talent is going to save it? There are three Academy Award winners in this cast, just don't use that as a benchmark for excellence.

This all amounts to another animated project from DreamWorks high on energy and low on inspiration. After "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmarron," "Road to El Dorado" and "Sinbad" all tanked, it's clear that the "Shrek" series is the only good thing the studio has going for it right now.

Of course, there's no escaping comparison to that other computer animated fish movie, either, and that's when this film looks most wanting. Where Pixar's "Finding Nemo" swam the full depths of the ocean, "Shark Tale" seems content to just tread water in the wading pool.

4 out of 10 stars. Pretty to look at, but any movie that tries to push this much "coolness" down your throat is just asking to be despised.

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61 out of 96 people found the following review useful:

Something was missing.

4/10
Author: The_Orenda from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
14 November 2004

I can't explain why I didn't like Shark Tale too much. Visually there is a creative backdrop which is absolutely beautiful. I wonder if they just took pictures of New York, doused it underwater and worked around the scenery. Because with the exception of that imagery, Shark Tale has a very loud, very brash, in-your-face mentality that takes away from the movie. Other features like The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo invite you to the paradise of being under the sea. Shark Tale throws you in the middle of the loudest club and tells you to get down on it. I don't buy it and with the exception of some visual gags, nobody else could neither. This is also another movie where Will Smith can get back into his Fresh Prince gear and get away with it and Jack Black could play a gender confused shark and be accepted for it as well. I wanted to enjoy the scenery and the sight of an underground New York. Shark Tale offered it but instead beat us silly with all the hoopla we see everyday on the television set. What a disappointment. Enjoy the humor and expect nothing more.

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22 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Those other reviews are bull; this movie is great!

9/10
Author: hanik_1999 from New York, NY
14 June 2005

I have to confess my shock at seeing the 5.9/10 average rating for this movie and overall mediocre reviews. This movie is great! And I'm not a kid, either...I'm 26 years old and thoroughly enjoyed this movie at the age of 25. The soundtrack is unbelievable and fits in seamlessly with the action and comedy of the movie. You really have to hear Mary J. Blige's rendition of Cheryl Lynn's classic disco anthem, "Got to Be Real." Anyway, besides the fantastic soundtrack, every character in this movie matches beautifully with his or her celebrity voice. I particularly enjoyed Will Smith's and Martin Scorcese's characters; brilliantly done. Really, if you're looking for a fun, enjoyable movie that you can laugh and even dance along to, this is the movie for you. Young and old alike should enjoy this. I've seen it 3 times, and always have a good time watching it. Watch it!

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30 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Adults will like this movie better than kids.

8/10
Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
12 February 2005

It could be just me but I thought that the humor in this movie was perfect. I laughed lot's of times throughout the movie and was very entertained by it. I however think that this movie will not be loved by young children, they simply will not be able to understand most of the jokes and the movie also lacks some 'likeable Disney type of characters' for them.

I never was really interested to go and watch this movie since it got lot's of bad reviews and I thought that the trailer looked horrible and very unfunny. I however decided to pick up this movie nevertheless because I was interested in how the famous voice cast would pull off, Martin Scorsese in particular. I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the movie. the humor was spot on and I was entertained the whole time. I know lot's of people probably are going to hate me for this but I thought this movie was even better and more entertaining than any of the two Shrek movies.

The movie doesn't have a whole lot of story and is pretty average in every way. I however feel that this is one of this movies were the story really is secondary. The movie has your average love story, in which Angelina Jolie's character is really unnecessary and adds absolutely nothing, in my opinion but watching Robert De Niro's character scream and shout and giving orders to Martin Scorsese's character on the other hand was absolutely priceless.

Will Smith was a great main character and just as entertaining as Eddie Murphy in an animated movie.

I predict that the music in this movie will be absolutely hated in 20 years by now, just as much as I hate '80's music in movies now. No, I really didn't liked the songs in this movie mainly because in unlike the Shrek movies, they aren't any evergreens.

If you plan to buy this movie for your kids, think twice, you're probably better of watching "Finding Nemo" with them. If you're a adult or young adult that likes animated movies, this movie might be worth your time and money, although the humor in this movie is really a matter of taste.

8/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/

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37 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Have Animated Features Jumped the Shark?

8/10
Author: EmperorNortonII from San Francisco, California
18 November 2004

"Shark Tale" is the latest animated feature from DreamWorks, the same studio that gave us "Antz" and "Shrek." This new story can be called a cross between "Finding Nemo" and "The Godfather." It's no "Shrek," but it's still enjoyable. The voice talent was well cast, with Will Smith as Oscar, the ambitious "small fish in a big pond" who finds himself an instant celebrity; Jack Black as Lenny, a peaceful vegetarian shark; Robert DeNiro as Don Lino, Lenny's father, the head of a shark mob, etc. The animation looks good, and a lot of movie references are clever. Sometimes, though, the producers of the movie seem to be trying too hard. But even if it doesn't always hit the mark, "Shark Tale" is worth a look.

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20 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Deserves a Higher Rating

9/10
Author: Victorious One from United States
11 September 2005

I just can't understand why "Shark Tale" is so underrated. I have watched this movie about 3 times and yet, I still can't get enough of it. The fact is that the characters were very entertaining, the animation was brilliant, and the story was great and was sending messages along with it, such as accept your destiny, be happy with who you are, accept others for who they are, and you don't have to live "on top of the reef" to be a "somebody." This movie also exposes us to the pop culture. What more does this movie need to to make it a good one? I mean this movie has it all: laughs and everything. Then why is it so underrated? I really don't know. I do know though, that "Shark Tale" is one of the best movie I have ever watched.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Nice to look at, but I have seen superior animated films...

6/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
10 May 2009

I did like Shark Tale, but there is a lot wrong with it. I did think the animation was very nicely done, and I liked the references to Jaws and Godfather. But I do think that Finding Nemo was much better than this. Shark Tale could have been a great film, had it not been devoid of humour and heart. My first problem with the film was Will Smith. He tries to be funny, but as the film progresses, he gets tiresome, and at times you feel like you want to reach into the screen and put a hand over his mouth. There were times when the script was funny, and there were some nice ideas, but the pace of the whole film was uneven. The characters could have been developed a lot more, particularly Lenny(a nice surprise from Jack Black), and whereas there were a number of nice visual jokes, there is some very over-familiar material in the script. Kids may find the sharks a bit frightening, and adults won't find much to enjoy, with the exception of the talented voice cast, such as Angelina Jolie, whose Lola(a very beautiful fish) was one of the better characters, Rennee Zellwegger, who deserved better than she was given and Robert DeNiro, whose shark was just a caricature of the Godfather. Though it is Martin Scorsesse who gives the most entertaining vocal contribution. And I did like the music score. All in all, it is nice to look at, but there are some parts of the film that aren't as interesting as intended. I did like the film, but I was kind of confused at who it was aimed at. 6/10 Bethany Cox.

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19 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

"Shark Tale" is a "fishy" tale, all right, but a worthwhile one

7/10
Author: dee.reid from United States
11 March 2005

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.

7/10

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