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Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

'Shark Tale' is a keeper, but no 'Nemo'

Published October 4, 2004

Shark Tale features the voices of stars Will Smith (Oscar, left), Jack Black (Lenny, center) and Renee Zellweger (Angie).

Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

MOVIE: Shark Tale

RATING: PG for some mild language and crude humor

SUMMARY: Oscar (voice of Will Smith) is a bottom feeder in the reef. He dreams of being famous and being "somebody," oblivious to the fact that his longtime best friend Angie (voice of Renee Zellweger) is in love with him. After the accidental death of a feared great white shark, Oscar takes the credit and is mistakenly hailed as the "shark slayer." He revels in the attention and glory. But the shark mobsters, led by Don Lino (voice of Robert De Niro), are not happy about the death of one of their own, the don's favorite son, Frankie (voice of The Soprano's Michael Imperioli), and they are out to get this so-called slayer of sharks. Oscar eventually teams up with a shark named Lenny (Jack Black), who is the don's other (not so favored) son. Strangely enough, they are able to help each other: Oscar must uphold his image while trying to evade the mobster sharks, and Lenny just wants to be himself, without having to live up to his father's expectations.

MY VIEW: Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn between this DreamWorks film and Disney-Pixar's Finding Nemo. Shark Tale will ride on Nemo's fish tails, yet it lacks the wholesome family friendliness and near perfection of the 2003 blockbuster. All indications are that this film is perfect for young audiences, but since when do films for children include plots based around the mob? This film doesn't go near a PG-13 rating, but it unquestionably plays more to the teens and adults in the audience than the wee ones. In that regard, this film falls far short of the expectations I had for it. It is, however, a well put-together movie. The animation is quality, though not as breathtaking as what Pixar accomplished in Nemo. The characters on screen resemble their voice-talent counterparts, with details as subtle as a mole on Don Lino's face mirroring De Niro's. Now that was funny! And when you look at Oscar, you have no doubt that Smith is the voice behind the fish. The animators also successfully captured many of the nuances of the actors' personalities in their animated counterparts. The impressively loaded cast of talent (Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorsese and even Katie Couric) holds down the fort very well, and the dialogue is, for the most part, pretty funny. The film offers plenty of bait, but the bottom line is that after Finding Nemo, it is not easy to be completely hooked by another animated fish movie.

Recommendations: You won't be able to keep the kids away and you shouldn't try to, but this one is really more for the "big kids" - teenagers and older.

Grade: B

- Billy Norris, 16, is in the 11th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified October 1, 2004, 11:23:14]

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