"Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness"
In SHARK TALE, a great white shark of a tale with a point, the undersea environment does not mimic the realism of FINDING NEMO but is more reminiscent of the goofiness and satire of Looney Toons. The animation, however, is much more visually complex than Looney Toons.
Oscar (voiced by Will Smith) is a fast talking hustler who sees himself as a nobody. In fact, he is a tongue scrubber at a “whale wash” in a city under the sea that looks like a cross between New York and Los Angeles. His best friend Angie (voiced by Renee Zellweger) loves him dearly, but he is blind to her faithful heart. Instead, he longs for the glitter at the top of the reef. Oscar has managed to get himself deeply entangled in debt to the owner of the whale wash, Sykes, who works for the mob boss, a great white shark named Don Lino (voiced by Robert De Niro). Don Lino’s shark mob wreaks terror over the underwater civilization. When Oscar is unable to pay, he is gagged, tied, and thrown to ocean depths.
Meanwhile, Don Lino wants to pass his role of responsibility on to his two heirs, Frankie and Lenny. Frankie is ready. Lenny, however, does not want to be a killer. He is a vegetarian who has no desire to kill anything and is trying desperately to hide his secret from his father. Don Lino gives Lenny one last chance to prove he is worthy to take over his father’s position as godfather, and Frankie and Lenny wait on the reef for prey. Seeing Oscar, Lenny goes out to perform the kill while Frankie waits, watching. When the moment of truth arrives, Lenny can’t do it. In a great flurry of sand and skirmish while pretending to devour Oscar, he tells Oscar to run.
Frankie appears pleased with his brother’s kill until the sand settles, and the truth is seen: Oscar startled and wide-eyed and still in one piece. Frankie decides to finish the job. Charging at Oscar, he is accidentally hit on his head by an anchor and killed instantly.
Distraught, believing his failure has killed his brother, Lenny goes into hiding while Sykes’ two henchmen find Oscar standing over a dead shark. Oscar sees his opportunity to fast-talk his way to the top of the reef. He takes the credit, claiming to be the shark slayer.
Later, when the banished Lenny meets Oscar, Lenny confronts Oscar with his deceit, telling him that he is no shark killer. Then, Lenny confides in Oscar, telling him his own deep secret he has hidden from everyone, that he is a vegetarian. Lenny paints himself blue to look like a dolphin so he can freely hide in the city without drawing attention to himself. Together they protect each other’s secrets until, finally, neither can continue their lies any longer because Don Lino decides, of course, to take revenge on Oscar.
SHARK TALE is a very narrative-rich tale. In gleaning it down to its basic plot, many of the nuances and subplots have been left behind. There is the story of Oscar’s unrequited love Angie and the femme fatale Lola. All these stories are expertly woven into the plot.
In spite of the fact that it’s narrative-rich and visually stunning, SHARK TALE does not have lighthearted humor to elevate it to pure entertainment. Thus, it misses the SHREK factor. In fact, the group of his children and their friends brought by Larry King to the press screening were not laughing.
Furthermore, the plot could be seen as an attempt to rationalize homosexuality. While Lenny is not said to be a homosexual, there are enough innuendos to make it appear that way and to suggest that the real point of the movie is that to say everyone should love those who like to dress and act differently.
Most of this politically correct innuendo will pass over the heads of young children, although it will influence their attitudes. All the children will notice is that Lenny is indeed a vegetarian shark, and his father, Don Lino, is as macho as they come. Therefore, parents must help their children to be media-wise about this.
In the final analysis, SHARK TALE has considerable entertainment value. Furthermore, the story tells the viewer that he or she cannot live a lie.
(BB, RoRo, L, V, S, Ho, A, D, M) Moral worldview with strong Romantic elements, including a strong plot appeal for "tolerance" for a shark who is a closet vegetarian and likes to dress as a dolphin; two lightweight obscenities and two lightweight profanities; animated action violence when fish fights with sharks, shark gets hit by anchor, “whale wash” speeds up on sharks, and other action violence; discreet but persistent homosexual implications and kissing; no nudity – these are fish; drinking; Rastafarian jellyfish may be high; and, lying by major character as prime plot device, which is rebuked.
GENRE: Animated Comedy
In SHARK TALE, Oscar the fish wants to be somebody. However, what he is now is a tongue scrubber at a “whale wash” in a city under the sea. This movie does not have the realism of FINDING NEMO but instead the goofiness and satire reminiscent of Looney Toons. Don Lino, godfather of the sharks, sends his son Lenny to kill Oscar, but Lenny turns out to be a closet vegetarian and won’t go through with the killing, and Lenny’s shark brother accidentally gets killed. Through misunderstandings, Oscar the fish gains the reputation of a fierce shark slayer but has to worry that the truth might come out.
In spite of the fact that it’s narrative-rich, SHARK TALE does not have the lighthearted humor that would elevate it to pure entertainment. It is missing the “SHREK factor.” Furthermore, the plot could possibly be seen as an attempt to rationalize homosexuality. Most of this politically correct innuendo, however, will pass over the heads of young children. In the final analysis, SHARK TALE has considerable entertainment value, is visually stunning, and the story makes the moral point that people cannot live a lie.