Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's commentary; Club Oscar;
Club Oscar: Get Your Groove On; Gigi The Whale; Rough Waters.
SHARK Tale boasts an impressive cast of vocal performers and
a script that was co-written by the same team as Shrek
and Ice Age, but it still fails to hook audiences as effectively
as it might.
Perhaps it's because it feels too much like it's swimming in
the same waters as Finding Nemo,
but Dreamworks' star-studded alternative lacks a little something
- be it originality, innovation or sheer feel-good value.
That's not to say it's a bad movie, as the kids will love it
and will splash out in their droves, but the formula feels a little
flat this time, despite the best efforts of all involved.
The premise is pretty standard; Oscar (voiced by Will Smith)
is a brazenly ambitious cleaner-fish, who is tired of working
at the local whale-wash.
He dreams of bigger things, all the while ignoring the love of
Angie (Renée Zellweger), a similarly small fish, and gambles
away his earnings.
When he is unable to pay off his debts, however, Oscar is left
as shark bait and comes across two shark brothers, in the form
of the fast-talking Frankie (The Sopranos' Michael Imperioli)
and the vegetarian Lenny (Jack Black), who is very definitely
in touch with his feminine side.
When Lenny fails to eat Oscar, as per instructions, Frankie steps
in, but is killed in an accident involving an anchor - thereby
allowing Oscar to claim credit for the slaying.
Hence, Oscar becomes a hero, and
is worshipped by all in the New York-style underwater city in
which he lives.
But his endeavours not only attract the attentions of a vampish,
potential fin-partner (Angelina Jolie), who covets the celebrity
status Oscar now enjoys, but also the shark godfather (Robert
De Niro), who wants him to sleep with the fishes.
And so the scene is set for plenty of life-lessons, as Oscar
comes to learn that being loved and unfamous is more important
than having everything, while also teaching his newfound shark
companions a thing or two about love and tolerance in the process.
Unlike Finding Nemo, however, Shark Tale goes about its business
in such a heavy-handed fashion that its failings become all the
Not only is it rife with product-placement, the film also panders
a little too much to the Will Smith persona and ends up feeling
like the 'Fish Prince of Bel-Air', rather than an ensemble feature,
thereby wasting the talents of pretty much everyone else involved.
Which is a shame, for the likes of De Niro, Martin Scorsese and
Zellweger clearly have a lot to offer in their various guises,
with De Niro, especially, hilarious as the mobster heavyweight.
Visually, the film offers plenty to keep the younger viewers
enthralled and there are some terrific sight gags (including the
use of the film Jaws and a shark dining sequence), but the script
feels like it's trying to cover every in-joke going, without hitting
upon Shrek's ability to provide a fair share of laughs for adults
and kids alike.
Take these points on board and you're still likely to have a
whale of a time; it's just that a Shark Tale fails to create as
big a wave as it was undoubtedly hoping to.