Retro Review: Shark Tale

Where has all the heart and humor gone?

In the latest computer-animated extravaganza from DreamWorks Pictures, Will Smith lends his voice to a fish named Oscar, who happens to be a fast-talking fish who dreams of bigger and brighter things. When Oscar’s mouth gets him into trouble and he ends up being sent up river by the “shark-mob”, he starts to learn his lesson until fate intervenes.

Oscar watches as an anchor from the surface above crashes down killing one of the “shark” mobsters. Then the whole reef starts to celebrate dubbing Oscar a “shark killer”. Oscar doesn’t allow his fellow fish to think anything more than that and it eventually builds him a fortune.

For Oscar to maintain his mirage of fame, he must befriend a rather reluctant shark named Lenny. Together Oscar and Lenny maintain Oscar’s new infamy but it will eventually come at a price.

As I sat back and watched all the beautiful colors of the gorgeous animation and tried to recognize some celebrity voices, I couldn’t help but notice that there was no soul in this animated piece.

The film relied heavily on the casting of the voices, goofy advertisements with fishy names, pop culture references and every mobster pun or joke you can think of. It just felt, pardon the pun, shallow.

I am not sure if anyone out there will remember this reference but in a lot of ways the film reminded a lot of the short-lived 1992 TV series, “Fish Police”. The series followed a gritty detective named Gil (voiced by the late John Ritter) who in the fourth episode of the series investigates a fishy version of the mob. “Shark Tale” felt like they took the whole concept and feel of “Fish Police” injected it full of “pop-culture” LSD, CGI animation and force fed it “Godfather” tuna. Because I remembered this little misunderstood TV series kind of made me dislike the film more than I probably should have.

I liked a lot of the film’s casting but the jokes, the script and the rudimentary situations really made for a waste of all the talent involved. Are kids going to really know that some of the stars of the “Sopranos” or the infamous “Godfather” films did some of the fish voices? Furthermore are they recognizable? That was another thing that really bugged me that about 80% of the all-star cast are unrecognizable as the voices they provide. They could have been anybody.

To top it all off, did we really need a Christina Aguilera fish?

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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