Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SHARK TALE; Lacking in So Many Ways, Animated Film Goes Fins Up

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SHARK TALE; Lacking in So Many Ways, Animated Film Goes Fins Up

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, The Times-Union

Watching the frenetic and only fitfully funny Shark Tale, you might find yourself wondering: Who on earth is this movie for?

A Mafia story set among talking fish and sharks might have seemed like a great idea at one point. Perhaps early in the morning after a long night of batting story ideas around.

But in the harsh light of day . . .

Sure, Shark Tale's tolerable enough for a while: There are enough gags tossed around that some of them stick. And there are too many good actors pretending to be sea life to make it a total loss.

But it's not witty, heartfelt or exciting enough to engage parents. And it's too hectic and snarky and shallow to really get kids.

True, there's one flatulence joke to keep children amused, and some plucky shrimp are good for a laugh or two (they're filling the function of the Gingerbread Man in Shrek).

But are kids really itching to see gag after gag spoofing movies -- The Godfather, Jaws, Car Wash and A Few Good Men for starters -- that were made while their parents were still too young to vote?

Part of the problem is one of expectations.

We've come to hope for so much from computer-generated family movies, which seem to have attracted the brightest, wittiest, least corrupted minds in Hollywood.

But Shark Tale? Though one of its directors worked on Shrek, it's just another movie, average at best and quotable hardly at all.

And for a story set at the bottom of the ocean, there's little depth: Think of the wit in Shrek, the emotion in Finding Nemo, the sweetness in Monsters, Inc., the camaraderie of Toy Story.

It's all missing here, buried under tired, campy pop-culture gags: drink Coral-Cola, eat Kelpy Kreme, shop at the Gup, watch Katie Current on TV.

Even the animation is inferior: Finding Nemo already showed us what it must look like among talking fish in the ocean, and it's far more clear and solid and beautiful than the blurry, pedestrian world depicted here.

The vocal talent's not bad, though.

Will Smith is Oscar, a little fish with big dreams. Renee Zellweger is Angie, the fish who secretly loves him. …

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