Something Smells Fishy with "Shark Tale"
- Wednesday, September 29, 2004
The film’s lack of imagination shows in “Shrek”-recycled humor (“GUP” for “GAP” and “Coral-Cola”) as well as a bunch of film references, including “The Godfather,” “Jerry Maguire” and “A Few Good Men,” which worked in “Shrek,” but do not work this second time around. We’re also treated to the usual staid-and-stupid poop jokes. But, when we go to these films and laugh – and we do, by the droves – we tend to lose our right to complain about this subject. Even when it tries to be serious and to teach kids a nice moral lesson, however, “Shark Tale” falls incredibly flat. “You don’t have to live at the top of the reef to be somebody,” Angie tells Oscar. Really? You mean I don’t have to be a mobster for people to love me?
Kid's movie, they say? Whatever. Totally apart from the mob/gambling/revenge theme, the soundtrack is either dated ("Carwash") or inappropriate (foul-mouthed rapper Ludacris singing about golddiggers). And there are no role models whatsoever. Oscar learns a lesson, but he's still a sleaze-ball, and everyone else is an immoral caricature. We’ve got the African Americans who work at the car (whale) wash and who hustle everyone. The Italian Americans who kill everyone. The Rastafarian Jamaicans who smoke pot (we don’t actually see this, but their brains are so fried that it’s a foregone conclusion). And, of course, we’ve got the token homosexual. For, what else could Lenny be, with his makeup, scarf and tool belt? Why else would he go to work singing in a cabaret, after moaning about being “different” and not “accepted” for “who he is?”
So, maybe I’m missing the boat, but something smells fishy when a feel-good message about tolerance and diversity is muddied by the waters of cliché and stereotype. It’s subverted logic, to be sure. “Shark Tale” will definitely make people laugh, and I realize there aren’t many children’s films to choose from, but my advice is to throw this one back.
- Drugs/Alcohol Content: Background drinking in restaurants and at party.
- Language/Profanity: Scatological humor and “disguised” profanities e.g. “Who in the Halibut trips underwater?” and “Get your tail in there!”
- Sexual Content/Nudity: Sexy female fish “comes on” to male fish, making mildly suggestive comments; kissing; character appears to be homosexual by dress, intonation and language, although this is never discussed.
- Violence: Threat of violence from Mafia – particularly death – is evident throughout film in several scenes, imitating gangster/mob films. Fish are threatened, tortured (by jellyfish who sting him repeatedly) and chased by sharks with clear fear of death. Fish and shark have fake fight, with shark plummeting to a faked death.
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