Shark Tale (U)
Time Out says‘Where’s the clown fish?’ piped up a confused kiddie next to me. And I could see her point. Expensive, merchandised-to-the-gills computer animation? Set under the sea? Comparisons are inevitable with Pixar’s ‘Finding Nemo’, but there’s a whole trawler-load missing from this fishily similar DreamWorks creation apart from a cute orange clown fish. Like a story. Or real charm.
Oscar (Will Smith) is a (deeply annoying) big-mouthed small fry at the bottom of the food chain. ‘There’s whale poo – and then there’s YOU,’ explains his local Whale Wash boss (Martin Scorsese). When fate offers Oscar the bling lifestyle he’d never have the clams to afford on a platter, he snatches it with both fins. But
it’s based on a big white lie. And when Oscar’s bogus claim to be a ‘Shark-slayer’ reaches the attention of reef boss Don Lino (Robert de Niro – down to the mole), the entertaining Godfather-in-a-Jaws-suit vows to make this boastful little celeb ‘Sleep wid de fishes… err… the dead ones, I mean.’
It’s not just the jolly mafiosi sharks that make this a cold-blooded affair. Childlike wonder is out; product placement (‘Krispy Kelp’ doughnuts, ‘Gup’ clothing, ‘Coral-Cola’) is in. Bubbly action and bright colours can only distract so long from a three-second-attention storyline that even a goldfish might find disjointed. Lenny the veggie shark with a bent towards dolphin transvestism and two pratt-falling Rasta jellyfish are honourable exceptions, but otherwise this ocean’s teeming with celebs not characters – ooh look, it’s a fish that looks like Angelina Jolie etc. Calling its hero Oscar was definitely tempting fate.