Film: Shark Tale

Cover image

Shark Tale

Director: Rob Letterman, Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron
Distributor: Dreamworks Video

A comic catch from the studio that brought you Shrek, Shark Tale is a hilarious hit and “a wonderful under-the-sea adventure for movie lovers of all ages!” (Clay Smith, Access Hollywood)

Oscar (Will Smith), a lowly tongue-scrubber at the local Whale Wash, becomes an improbable hero when he tells a great white lie. To keep his secret, Oscar teams up with an outcast vegetarian shark, Lenny (Jack Black), and the two become the most unlikely of friends. When his lie begins to unravel, it’s up to Oscar’s loyal friend Angie (Renée Zellweger) and Lenny to help him stand up to the most feared shark in the water (Robert De Niro) and find his true place in the reef.


When a shark accidentally clobbers himself, a small fish named Oscar (voiced by Will Smith, I, Robot) just happens to be around, prompting everyone to believe that he killed the shark himself. This lie soon makes Oscar a celebrity, worshipped by the general mass of fish, wooed by a glittering golddigger (Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted), missed by his best friend (Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain)—and hunted by the godfather of great whites (Robert De Niro, Goodfellas). Can a vegetarian shark named Lenny (Jack Black, School of Rock) get Oscar out of this mess? The formulaic story of Shark Tale never reaches the giddy heights of Pixar’s output (Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Toy Story) or the freewheeling comedy of Shrek, but it’s capably told and impeccably animated—the sheer technical skill is stunning. Kids won’t get the mobster jokes or the other pop-culture references, but they’ll enjoy it nonetheless. —Bret Fetzer

Barnes and Noble

As gangster-film parodies go, Shark Tale is in a league of its own—20,000 leagues under the sea, that is. This Academy Award-nominated computer-animated feature reeled them in at the box office and, with its rich complement of special features, should make it an even bigger splash on DVD. The A-list voice cast gives a new meaning to “star fish.” Will Smith is jive-talking Oscar, a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash who yearns to live among the “somebodies” at the top of the reef. Renée Zellweger costars as Angie, a co-worker with an unrequited crush on the clueless Oscar. Robert De Niro is Don Lino, a shark looking to turn over control of the reef to his sons, but one of them gives him a sinking feeling. Jack Black is Lenny (presumably a play on the fact that he sounds like Laverne & Shirley’s Squiggy), a vegetarian with no taste for the family business. Lenny and Oscar form a surprising alliance when Oscar is mistaken for a shark slayer. Fame and fortune turn his head, but Oscar will learn that life at the top of the reef can be a shallow existence. The supporting voice cast is no less impressive, with Martin Scorsese as a puffer fish to whom Oscar is deep in debt and Angelina Jolie as a gold-digging fish fatale. The script is filled with movie references and puns—there “shell-phones,” a “prawnshop,” and an anchorwoman named “Katie Current,” perkily voiced by Katie Couric. Taking its cue from the Shrek DVDs, the Shark Tales disc contains an exclusive animated musical segment set on the dance floor of “Club Oscar.” Shark Tale does not tell as primal a story as Finding Nemo, and many of the jokes will float over children’s heads, but the film’s high spirits never flounder. Donald Liebenson

Related Works

Album:Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack

Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

While it lacks some of the innocent charm of Pixar’s similarly oceanic-themed Finding Nemo, Dreamworks’ computer animated fish opera works from a more adult source, spoofing Coppola’s The Godfather with an impressive array of all-star vocal talents. Its soundtrack may be one of the film’s most consistently successful elements, a party-ready mix of contemporary r&b and hip-hop lite. Two of the highlights here are rooted in a 1970s disco groove: Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott take a slinky cruise through a beat-drenched take on “Car Wash,” while…

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