A computer-animated adventure from the same studio, DreamWorks, that made Shrek, this is a slick undersea adventure but one that is unlikely to inspire the chuckles of the Shrek movies or the warm fuzziness of the film it’s most similar to, Finding Nemo.
The watery animated design here certainly isn’t as gorgeous as Nemo, nor is the story as accessible to all ages. It’s the tale of a young fish named Oscar (Smith), who wants to be rich and famous and gets his opportunity when a shark that has terrorised the local fish dies in an accident and everyone assumes Oscar actually killed him. Soon Oscar – the ‘sharkslayer’ – is a big celebrity, complete with swanky underwater penthouse apartment, but it’s just a matter of time before his lie is uncovered. That is, until he befriends a timid, vegetarian shark named Lenny (Black) who just may be able to help him keep up the charade.
Adults will enjoy the movie references, from Jaws to Jerry Maguire, and especially the vocal talent on board, which includes Angelina Jolie as a vampish fish, Zellweger as Oscar’s oldest friend, Martin Scorsese as his boss and Robert De Niro as the Mafioso-style leader of the sharks (and Lenny’s dad). But will kids understand the numerous Mob movie references that touch on everything from The Godfather to The Sopranos (a couple of Sopranos cast members also lend their voices to minor shark characters)? It’s unlikely, but Scorsese’s turn as a simpering blowfish will provide some junior laughs even if children have no idea who is doing the voice (or realise that the animators have done a nice job of making the character look like the famous bushy-browed director). Ultimately, this isn’t a bad animated family adventure, but it’s not a desperately original one either.
Is Shark Tale suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...