A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating:Rated PG for some mild language and crude humor
Starring:Will Smith, Robert DeNiro,Jack Black, Michael Imperioli
Directed By:Bibo Bergeron and Vicky Jenson
With the success of Disney Pixar, every company wants a piece of the CGI pie. It’s no doubt that Americans love their computer generated friends and computer animation has nearly wiped out all traditional hand drawn animation. Pixar and Dreamworks animation studios have been competing for the last few years while other companies are just getting their computer generated animation studios going. After Pixar released Finding Nemo last year, Dreamworks decided this fall to Answer with Shark Tale.
Shark Tale is the story of a Shark Named Lenny who just doesn’t fit in. Lenny’s father wants him to take over the family business and Lenny just wants to be left alone. Lenny feels as though he is the only shark in the sea that is a vegetarian. Forced by his father to eat his first fish, Lenny Stumbles upon Oscar, another down on his luck fish. Oscar just wants to be somebody in his community. Instead he works at the local Whale Wash scraping algae off of whale tongues. But Lenny and Oscar learn quickly they can help each other, Oscar pretends to kill Lenny and becomes a Shark Slayer to his friends and Lenny gets his chance to disappear. Their plan was seemingly perfect until Lenny’s father plots revenge on Oscar.
Shark Take was trying way too hard. They took a story that could have been ok and made it into what turned out to be sub par. Where films like Finding Nemo, Shrek and Monsters Inc. succeeded Shark Tale failed. They tried to make it loved by adults and kids and it just didn’t work. There was too much for a kid to understand and it was too obvious for an adult to enjoy. Although it is never stated adults are led to believe that Lenny the shark is Gay and we are supposed to buy into the fact that sharks are part of a giant underwater Sopranos episode. They also play up the Oscar fish (who is voiced by Will Smith) as an African American fish even though he is multi-colored and in the end just annoying with his weird fin shakes (not handshakes) and his ridiculous bling bling necklaces. The film picked some famous actors to fill some great roles, Will Smith as Oscar, Jack Black as Lenny and Robert DeNiro as Don Lino the head of the shark mob. They even found a spot for Angelina Jolie and Renee Zellwegger in the roles of Oscar’s dueling love interests. The cast also included mob film director Martin Scorsese and Michael Imperioli and Vincent Pastore (stars of HBO’s the Sopranos). The problem was all that talent was wasted it away like a drunken Ben Affleck’s chips at a poker table.
I think the biggest fallback for Shark Tale was that they tried to make the fish too human like. In Finding Nemo they just made the fish talk, but In Shark Tale the creators made a whole underwater city complete with Elevators and more. One has to wonder why a fish needs to take an elevator from the ocean floor to get to his penthouse apartment, especially when he is swimming high above that a few scenes prior to his return home. They also made the fish stand upright and sit upright rather than make them move like Normal Fish. I have a feeling if they would have done the same thing in a much more toned down setting the film may have worked better for me.
If anything in Shark Tale was worth watching it was for Lenny. Jack Black does a wonderful job in the role and the Lenny Character is hilarious. The two Jellyfish that are of Jamaican decent also provide some good laughs. I admit I got a good laugh at Michael Imperioli and Robert DeNiro because of my love for Mob films, and something about the Sharks operating like the mob was funny to me. It still felt like it was missing something though.
In the end, the kids will love this film, but the adults won’t. Shark Tale tried way to hard to be something great and just turned out to be a sweet smelling pile of manure. It doesn’t have the spirit Shrek, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and others have had. This flick is a box office miss for me. It provides a few cookie cutter laughs but isn’t worth your ticket price.