Will Smith heads up a truly all-star cast as Oscar, a lowly fish who works at the whale wash in an underwater city ruled by sharks. Robert DeNiro plays the head shark, Don Lino, a mafia type boss who is trying to train his two sons to take over the family business.
Of course, things become complicated when The Godfather’s favourite and toughest son is found dead with only Oscar at the scene of the crime. The other fish in the city and the rest of the sharks assume that Oscar is a dreaded shark slayer, which the tongue-scrubber makes no attempt to deny, especially after he experiences the riches that come with his newfound celebrity status.
Representatives of DreamWorks would probably deny that they had borrowed any ideas from Pixar, the makers of classic computer animated films like Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Monster’s Inc., but nevertheless it does seem like there are a lot of unoriginal ideas here. Obviously the sea creature theme is similar to that of Finding Nemo, but the underwater effects are not quite as well crafted here. Perhaps more importantly, the storyline is far from original and can in fact be seen in Pixar’s earlier hit A Bug’s Life.
On the plus side, this film is very enjoyable for children, and it is quite funny. There are bucket loads of references in this film, from nods to the actors who play the characters, to swipes at the producers. Especially prominent are the references to Steven Spielberg films (notably Jaws), Martin Scorsese films (notably Goodfellas) and Titanic. All of which is marvellous fun and makes up the bulk of the comedy in the movie - but is surely not so easy for kids to understand?
Overall, Shark Tale is a good family film that little ones will love to see and thoroughly enjoy. There’s just about enough humour to keep the adults entertained too, even though the plot is a touch stale. Unfortunately, in this critic’s opinion, there is still an indefinable gulf between the quality of DreamWorks’ offerings and that of the incredibly successful Pixar films.