(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)
Ever since the old Disney animators retired, there has been a battle royal between Dreamworks and Pixar for cartoon supremacy. Pixar has been spectacularly successful with Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo and soon, The Incredibles. Dreamworks has fired back with Chicken Run, Antz, Shrek, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Shrek 2 and now Shark Tale. It's sort of Disney Vs. Disney since Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks used to run animation for Disney and Disney kind of owns Pixar. Most the movies, listed above, for both studios were huge hits. I'm sure that it's a total coincidence that Finding Nemo and Shark Tale are about fish just like it was a total coincidence that A Bug's Life and Antz came out the same year. And just like A Bug's Life was considered the better bug movie, Finding Nemo is the finer fish film.
Shark Tale tells the story of a fish city terrorized by sharks. The sharks are styled as the mafia, led by their Don (Robert De Niro). His nephew (Jack Black) is ostracized for being a vegetarian and he befriends a small fish (Will Smith) who has gained the reputation of a shark killer even though he hasn't actually killed any sharks. Smith is expected to defend the fish city against a shark attack while choosing between the good (Renee Zellweger) and bad (Angelina Jolie) girl fish who are swimming around him. Much hilarity (supposedly) ensues.
The best thing about Shark Tale is that the animators have done a great job of making the fish look like the famous actors whose voices they have. In particular, the Will Smith fish and the Martin Scorsese fish, with big bushy eyebrows look great. And Will Smith is so good that even his voice is entertaining. Beyond that, this movie is a bit of a snooze and I had a nice nap in the middle. I know I'm not the best judge of these kind of films, since I was pretty drowsy in Finding Nemo also. I am much more entertained by a movie like Shrek 2 that makes an attempt to entertain the adults as well as the kids in the audience. I did go to Shark Tale with a couple of young kids, aged 5 and 6. Both Dee-Dee and Trinity quite liked the movie. Despite the narcolepsy, that I contract seeing these kiddie animated films, I did appreciate Finding Nemo much more than Shark Tale. It certainly was eons ahead in the animation itself and had a more fun, well fleshed out story. But Shark Tale was the top grossing film for three weeks in a row so at least the kids liked it.