Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2004. DreamWorks Animation, DreamWorks, Pacific Data Images. Screenplay by Michael J. Wilson, Rob Letterman, additional dialogue by Scott Aukerman, Alec Berg, Sean Bishop, BJ Porter, Jeff Schaffer, Lona Williams, David P. Smith, David Soren. Produced by Bill Damaschke, Janet Healy, Allison Lyon Segan. Music by Hans Zimmer. Production Design by Daniel St. Pierre. Film Editing by Nick Fletcher, Peter Lonsdale, John Venzon. Academy Awards 2004. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
The last time that Dreamworks went head to head with Pixar with similarly-themed animated films (Antz vs. A Bug’s Life), Dreamworks came in a close second, but this time it hardly even makes the chart. Whether or not it had Finding Nemo to compare itself to, Shark Tale is a painfully dull affair, a beautifully animated comedy that is weighed down by a clichéd script and an overly familiar plot. Will Smith plays the underachieving tropical fish who works at the local Whale Wash and dreams of one day making it to the top of the reef in his underwater Manhattan-like metropolis. Meanwhile, a vegetarian shark (Jack Black) has trouble reconciling his gentle nature with the tough politics of his mob family, especially his unforgiving father (Robert De Niro). The two hapless heroes meet, and together they come up with a scheme to dupe the city into thinking that Smith is a shark slayer and Black is a dolphin. Meanwhile, the sweet-natured girl (Renee Zellweger) waiting for Smith to notice her has to put up with the machinations of a femme fatale named Lola (Angelina Jolie). Could they have picked a more overused name for a deadly vamp? The animation is bright and colourful, and some of the gags are marvelously clever (the sushi restaurant with no patrons is actually very funny), but even the kids will think the story dreadfully flat.