In 2003, “Finding Nemo” came out earning critical acclaim & box office success as an instant classic among critics & movie goers alike. It ultimately won an Oscar for “Best Animated Feature” with “Disney” & “Pixar” taking home their grand prize. By the time Finding Nemo was first released, rival animation studio, “DreamWorks Animation” commenced development of a project originally called “Shark Slayer,” but decided to change it into “Shark Tale” in order to appeal to a family friendly audience. Coincidentally, both Finding Nemo & Shark Tale were in the early stages of production since 2002. DreamWorks also worked on “Shrek 2” a follow up the Oscar winning hit film “Shrek.”
Shark Tale was released in 2004. (same year Spider-Man 2 came out) Unlike Shrek & its sequel, Shark Tale received mixed reactions from critics. Despite mixed reception, it managed to make enough green at the box office. Shark Tale became an eligible nominee for Best Animated Feature at “The 77th Academy Awards.” Unfortunately, Disney & Pixar’s “The Incredibles” ultimately won the Oscar.
Shark Tale unintentionally generated controversy for its depiction of Italian-American stereotypes as sharks. Personally, I didn’t think they were that bad as in Mickey Rooney’s Chinese character Mr. Yunioshi from “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” or The Twins, (Mudflap & Skids) from “Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.” It’s ridiculous & contradicts the fact that “The Sopranos” also had a similar controversy as long as Hollywood doesn’t go too far.
As you may know, Will Smith (one of m favorite actors) is filling in Robin Williams’ role as Genie in the live action “Aladdin” remake. I’ve decided to look back at Shark Tale to give you my input on what’s good or bad about this particular movie. Will’s upcoming movies “Spies In Disguise” & “Gemini Man” are also scheduled to come out this Christmas & Thanksgiving. Prior to his first voiceover role in Shark Tale, Will was offered the role as “Osmosis Jones,” he dropped out in favor of “Ali.” Don’t forget DreamWorks’ upcoming “Abominable.”
Today’s review doesn’t contain any huge SPOILERS whatsoever. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article if you haven’t seen this film. I’ll do my best not to copy my favorite critics like Doug Walker/Nostalgia Critic, E-Rod/The Blockbuster Buster & Jonathan Rozanski/Mr. Enter. They all did their own take of reviewing Shark Tale.
Pros & Cons
Pros: Will Smith, Jack Black, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie & Martin Scorsese all did a solid job for their respective voiceover performances.
Fun Fact: Both Jack & Angelina went to voice Po & Tigress in the “Kung-Fu Panda” series (excluding the television show) produced by DreamWorks Animation.
Animation is really good. The animators did an awesome job creating an environment inspired by SpongeBob SquarePants’ main setting “Bikini Bottom.” Speaking of SpongeBob, his movie came out in 2004.
Other Cast Members such as Ziggy Marley, (Bob Marley’s real life son) Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore, Peter Falk & Katie Couric all did a good job for their respective voiceover performances.
Hans Zimmer orchestrated music for the movie.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffery Katzenberg produced the film.
Similar to the Shrek films making fun of Disney films, Shark Tale spoofs the gangster genre mocking notable crime dramas including “The Godfather,” “The Godfather Part II,” “Goodfellas,” “The Sopranos,” “Scarface,” “Donny Brasco, “Casino” “Analyze This” & “Analyze That.”
Besides crime dramas, the film has a truckload of pop culture references something Quentin Tarantino would do in his works.
Character Development involving Oscar. He learns to become responsible and less reckless.
Characters are modeled after their voice actors.
The crowd chants to Oscar. A reference to Will Smith’s Oscar nominated performance as Muhammad Ali in a biopic about the late boxer.
Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” is played in one scene. Will’s other film “I Am Legend” often played Three Little Birds. Ziggy Marley also voices a jellyfish.
Shark Tale is Robert De Niro & Martin Scorsese’s first collaboration since Casino. It’s the closest thing to see them working together, until “The Irishman” is out. They started their partnership since “Mean Streets.”
Don Lino is an obvious reference to Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather. In The Godfather Part II, Robert portrayed Vito in flashbacks.
A familiar “drawing” from a James Cameron film is displayed as an Easter Egg. I’ll give you a hint, Martin worked with an Oscar winning actor since “Gangs Of New York.”
A billboard displaying “Jaws” is seen when a shark hits straight towards it. Steven Spielberg also produced (uncredited) Shark Tale. He’s one of the founding fathers of DreamWorks. (duh)
Somebody said, “Go get em’ tiger!” A reference to Mary Jane Watson’s catchphrase from “Spider-Man.” Coincidentally, “Spider-Man 2” came out the same year as Shark Tale.
One character said, “You had me at hello.” A famous line from “Jerry Maguire.” Renée also starred in Tom Cruise’s film.
Lenny shouted, “Swim, swim for your life!” Jack later said a similar line in Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” remake & video game. Jack’s character Carl Denham shouted, “Scream Ann, Scream for your life!”
At the 22 minute mark, a fish is sticking his tongue out. It made me laugh my butt off. Even as a fish, almost every species in the world is attracted to Angelina Jolie.
A screaming scene was played for laughs. A possible jab at Kate Capshaw (Steven Spielberg’s wife) in Indiana Jones & Temple Of Doom. As I call it Capshaw’s Disease. (CD for short) An incurable disease when an annoying character suffers from complaining, constantly screams, shrieks, yells & never contributes to the plot.
A fart scene made me laugh uncontrollably. I love fart jokes.
Like most animated films produced by DreamWorks, a dance party is shown.
Missy Elliott & Christina Aguilera make cameo appearances.
A Mid-Credits Scene is optional to view.
Like “Men In Black” its sequel & that horrendous “Wild Wild West” stinker, “Will Smith contributed the soundtrack for the film rapping a cover version of “Got To Be Real” with Mary J. Blige.
Cons: Will Smith’s character Oscar, is reckless who never thinks before he acts. His actions are the cause of the main conflict. He’s ain’t an annoying idiot like Willie Scott from “Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom,” Amanda Kirby from “Jurassic Park III” & Rachel Ferrier from “War Of The Worlds.” Eventually, he matures. What I’m trying to say is in fact, his actions that kickstarted the plot felt contrived.
A Death Scene didn’t feel quite right. Unlike Mufasa’s death from “The Lion King” which was played for drama, Shark Tale’s death scene was mean spirited because it looked like something off of a Coen Brothers film. A kid’s movie is suppose to handle a mature subject seriously as a form of edutainment to teach young viewers about loss. Unfortunately, it’s played for laughs. A death scene in a humorous tone is executed (no pun intended) for mature audiences like Todd Phillips’ “Old School.”
A “we are through” cliche occurred. I hate it when it shows up, because we know two people will make amends & get together. As in almost every buddy cop film or romantic comedy.
The Final Verdict: B-
In my opinion, Shark Tale is average film. It’s not quite excellent as Shrek or as terrible than “Foodfight.” Despite the gripes, all the positive things listed how much I actually enjoyed Shark Tale is a good animated movie. If you’re eager to see Will Smith as Genie in Aladdin or waiting to see Abominable, go ahead and watch Shark Tale.