Shark Tale - Review

Don Lino (ROBERT DE NIRO) floats his secret weapon, Lola (ANGELINA JOLIE), to tip the scales against the sharkslayer.

Grab your fishing hat. Time to wet a line - or should I say catch a line - at the new favorite fishing hole "Shark Tale." Contrary to the yarns of "the one that got away" this delightful accomplishment of DreamWork Animation is a keeper and tells the creatively colorful, comic capers of Oscar, a small-fry fish, as he finagles his way up the food chain to the top of the reef. This mob-comedy spoof with an undersea urban backdrop illustrates the timeless truth that we sometimes "can't see the 'ocean' for the 'fish'."

The Reef's top anchorfish, Katie Current (KATIE COURIC), interviews the Reef's new hero, Oscar (WILL SMITH).

Animation features involve a long-term investment for the filmmakers. "Shark Tale" was at least a two-year venture in which tremendous research "set the stage" for this made to order classic. The individualized artistry of each talented team member promoted continual computer animation breakthroughs to meet the challenges of making their dreams reality. In fact, the production of "Shark Tale" marks a milestone for DreamWork Animation in that it is the first computer-animated feature to be produced entirely through a new state-of-the-art CG pipeline at the studio's Glendale, California campus.

Luca (VINCENT PASTORE) is Don Lino's right hand, left hand, right hand, left hand man.

Oscar lives in what initially appears as a natural, coral reef, but upon closer inspection is actually the likeness of New York City carved out of the sea materials - a fish-made city. This in itself completely mesmerized my ten year old daughter Laura. The fishiness of such a familiar human city centered around Times Square, billboards, and traffic jams had very "punny" advertisements which added to the setting: "Old Wavy," "Gup," "Coral-Cola" and "Fish King."

Flanked by a disguised Lenny (JACK BLACK, left) and his new manager Sykes (MARTIN SCORSESE, right), Oscar (WILL SMITH) tells the sharks just how it's going to be in.

A very delicate task in creating this fish-city involved balancing the sensation of floating with enough gravity to allow its occupants to sit and stand. Also, the instantaneous animated shift from swimming fish characters to human-like standing and visa versa surfaced more creative genius and computer technology. Each challenge encountered in the making of "Shark Tale" was surmounted as evidenced on the big screen.

Sykes (MARTIN SCORSESE) is a blowhard puffer fish who'll do whatever it takes to make a few extra clams.

Central to "Shark Tale's" success is that of capturing the personalities and mannerisms of the all-star cast and transforming them into the nature of his animated counterpart. Lionel Gallat, a supervising animator, relates, "Almost everything we do is based on the voices and what is laid out by the actors to bring the characters to life."

Sometimes it's hard to believe that Lenny (JACK BLACK, left) and Frankie (MICHAEL IMPERIOLI) are both the sons of the powerful Don Lino.

Will Smith's Oscar ended up being a colorful cleaner wrasse, which was very appropriate for his tongue-cleaning job at the Whale Wash. The big, billowing fin of Angie (Renee Zellweger) the angelfish became her very flowing, elegant hair. Lola (Angelina Jolie) is mostly a lionfish mixed with a little dragonfish - lethal and beautiful. Sykes (Martin Scorsese) is a puffer fish whose spines portray toughness until he gets nervous and puffs up with a squeaky voice. Don Lino (Robert De Niro) the shark was differentiated from those of his sons' Lenny (Jack Black) and Frankie (Michael Imperioli). And so on.

Angie (REN

To move up the food chain meant living in a penthouse at the top of the reef as opposed to the lower levels where the "prawn shops" and such were located, and Oscar became so fixated on this quest that he fell prey to dubious schemes and lies to get there. When the news of Lenny, a vegetarian shark, turned him into an outcast, he and Oscar become unlikely friends. And all the while Oscar was oblivious to the true love of his "friend" Angie who through her steadfast belief in his good qualities was instrumental in his eyes finally opening. Everything Oscar wanted all along was right there in front of him. Isn't that so true for many of us?

Oscar (WILL SMITH, center) celebrates his good fortune by jamming on the jellies Ernie and Bernie (ZIGGY MARLEY, left, and DOUG E. DOUG).

The melding of technology, talent, creativity and aspirations has produced a top-notch, fun-for-all feature animated film for the entire family. Laura and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this colorful romantic/action comedy & pop culture parody that has electrifying entertainment for everyone. Electrifying? Yes, watch for Bernie and Ernie. Laura liked them a lot. She said, "They are so stupid." Cast your net. You definitely choose to "catch" this terrific tale full of humorous "liners" - ocean liners and one-liners.

"Shark Tale" opens nationwide on Friday, October 1, 2004, in a theatre near you. Visit the website at

Will Smith .... Oscar (voice)
Robert De Niro .... Don Lino (voice)
Renée Zellweger .... Angie (voice)
Jack Black .... Lenny (voice)
Angelina Jolie .... Lola (voice)
Martin Scorsese .... Sykes (voice)
Katie Couric .... Katie Current (voice)
Doug E. Doug .... Bernie (voice)
Peter Falk .... Don Brizzi (voice)
Tracey Grimshaw .... Katie Current (Australian Version) (voice)
Michael Imperioli .... Frankie (voice)
James Madio .... Vinny (voice)
Ziggy Marley .... Ernie (voice)
Vincent Pastore .... Luca (voice)
Joseph Siravo

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