Web Edition

lead stories
other news



chess forum
town talk


press releases


last week's issue

real estate
classified ads


For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Eric Liebowitz)

photo caption:
JAMMING WITH THE JELLYFISH: Oscar (Will Smith, center) celebrates his good fortune with some undersea dancing with his jellyfish friends Ernie (Ziggy Marley, left) and Bernie (Doug. E. Doug, right).
end caption.

"Shark Tale": Crass Marketing Campaign Masquerades as a Family Movie

Review by Kam Williams

The best that can be said about Shark Tale is that it makes you appreciate Finding Nemo that much more. The film resembles Nemo only in that it is also an animated undersea adventure revolving around the plight of a brightly-colored fish. But that's where the similarities end.

While Nemo was a light, heartwarming fable and fun for the whole family, Shark Tale is a cartoon which is inappropriate for very young children, despite its PG rating. It deals with adult subject matters, such as dating, gambling addiction, and the mob, and not always in an appropriate manner.

Several groups have already complained about the picture linking Italians with organized crime, and there are other groups equally upset by the film's stereotypes. For example, there is a school of Mafia fish speaking in 'fuhgedaboutits' and 'bada-bing, bada-booms' and several ostensibly black characters butchering English in Ebonics.

However, what's most irritating about Shark Tale is its prominent ad placements. Commercials are passed off as clever plays on words, such as Coca-Cola transformed into Coral-Cola, Krispy Kreme into Kelpy Kreme, Old Navy into Old Wavy, The Gap into The Gup, etcetera. However, each product's distinctive logo is recognizable, so that the actual brand names automatically register in your mind without necessarily noticing the slight spelling alterations.

Shark Tale casts Will Smith as the voice of Oscar, a tiny fish with a 5,000 clam debt that has him in hot water with the mob. In addition, Oscar's has to choose between two female fish; Angie (Renee Zellweger), an innocent angelfish, and Lola (Angelina Jolie), a scheming, seductive dragonfish.

Robert De Niro co-stars as a ruthless Mafia godfather Don Lino, and Jack Black plays his son, Lenny, a meek vegetarian shark who'd rather not have anything to do with the family business. The cast also includes Martin Scorcese as an eyebrowed blowfish, reggae's Ziggy Marley and comedian Doug E. Doug as Rastafarian jellyfish, NBC's Katie Couric as reporter Katie Current, and Vincent Pastore, Michael Imperoli, and Peter Falk in one-dimensional roles.

Even the animation is disappointing, with the anthropomorphic leads being imbued with so many human traits that they come off as more like people than fish. The story is a muddled mess which moves between being a Mafia drama, a romantic comedy, and a disconnected sequence of one-liners.

Shark Tale is only decisive in its efforts to whet the appetites of consumers. This leads to the suspicion that it might have been designed more as a series of sales pitches than as a feature-length film.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG for mild epithets and crude humor. Running time: 90 minutes. Distributor: Dreamworks.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


Website Design by Kiyomi Camp