Fish Food In Comparison To Past Underwater Comparison

Cheifetz, Danielle and Rodriguez

Packed with six star voices, one would think Shark Tale is a guaranteed success. This PG rated animation film falls short, however, of Pixar’s 2003 hit Finding Nemo. While the animation is well-done, some of the jokes fall flat. Along with an abundance of pop culture and advertisements, comes an unimaginative plot line. The use of blatant class, gender and racial stereotypes is unnecessary, as well, especially in a film geared towards children. Shark Tale is the story of Oscar the fish who just wants to be rich and famous in order to gain respect and adoration. There is a second plot in which a shark named Lenny, who to the dismay of his father Don Lino, the mafia godfather, is a vegetarian. Their paths collide through a series of mishaps, and they are able to help each other out so that they both can obtain what they want. Unfortunately, this film had no climax, and was predictable from beginning to end. Granted this is a children’s film, but movies like Finding Nemo and Shrek prove that not all children’s movies have to be simplistic and generic to be comprehended by kids. This film does not know what audience to focus on; adults and teenagers may view this film as an age-old story lacking in new material. However, if the film is geared towards younger children, they are not film savvy enough to follow cuts, or make assumptions based on shot sequencing. On the other hand, this film does send the positive message to kids that it is okay to be yourself and that money is not what life is about. At the conclusion of this film, Oscar realizes happiness and love have nothing to do with money. Lenny is able to make up with his father, who eventually accepts him for who is, and everyone lives happily ever after. This all-star cast includes Robert De Niro, Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorcese, Jack Black, and Renee Zelleweger. Some of the specifically stereotypical roles were filled by Michael Imperioli of the Sopranos in the role of a shark mobster; Katie Couric as a fish reporter; and Ziggy Marley and Doug E. Doug as Rastafarian jellyfish. Instead of having unique characters for this script, the sea creatures all ended up resembling their voice actors. Martin Scorcese’s Syke’s had his unique bushy eyebrows, Will Smith’s Oscar had his trademark big ears, and Angelina Jolie’s Lola was drawn with large green eyes, and her signature full lips. This aspect of this film encourages viewers to associate the characters with the big name actors, distracting from the believability of the animals in the story. Shark Tale utilizes popular culture references and mainstream advertisements from beginning to end. One example of blatant marketing was when Oscar presents his friend Angie with Krispy Kreme donuts, the label distinctively present and hard not to recognize. One example of pop culture was when Oscar uses famous movie lines as a form of joking, including, “You can’t handle the truth!”, and “you had me at hello.” Documenting Oscar’s rise from rags to riches, are the presence of ads like Cora-Cola (Coca-Cola), and Gup (Gap). Oscar moves from merely viewing these ads, to being the spokesperson for them as he rises up the celebrity ladder. An MTV reference has Oscar pretending to be on Cribs, showing off his penthouse before he actually obtains this dream in the film. Being a movie about sharks, the director could not resist using the Jaws theme song as well as an enormous Jaws posterboard in the reef metropolis. Having so many characters fulfill the role of stereotypical judgments is not a good idea in a children’s film. In Oscar’s slum neighborhood, three juvenile troublemakers graffiti the walls, have heavy accents and cause mischief. Mrs. Sanchez is a crazy, overweight fish, who is loud and also has a heavy Hispanic accent. In one scene, Oscar tries to do a funky handshake with his boss Sykes, and tells him it’s okay, “a lot of white fish can’t do it.” Lenny’s family employs all the typical aspects of the mafiosa from lingo to their mannerisms. One gender stereotype is with Lola, the gold digging, seductive manipulator, who only sees dollar signs when she looks at Oscar. Problems with these type of stereotypes are heightened when they are aimed at children. Adults can differentiate reality from a caricature, but kids can not always discern what is truth from fiction. While Shark Tale is lighthearted and has a good moral to be learned, it still lacks in comparison to other recently released children’s animation. As far as under the sea adventures go, Finding Nemo is much superior when it comes to plot, script, and heart. With such talent behind the voices, it’s too bad Shark Tale does not reach its full potential, and relies instead on lame jokes, hackneyed punch lines and classic stereotypes.