Shark Tale

Movie: Shark Tale

Shark Tale
Shark Tale

I only watched this movie for the first time recently. It was released hot on the heels of Finding Nemo, and seemed to be the poor cousin of that film in all respects. It has a spectacular cast – featuring the voices of Hollywood’s finest – but flops in comparison to the Pixar film.

There are many superficial similarities between Finding Nemo and Shark Tale, but in the similarties we also find fundamental differences. The bustling reef city presented in Shark Tale looks cheap, lurid, and replete with the empty values of the 21st century, whereas the idyllic reef community presented in Finding Nemo appears aspirational and wholesome. There’s also a vegetarian shark (Lenny, voiced by Jack Black) in this movie, but he’s nowhere near as endearing as Finding Nemo‘s Bruce.

My favourite part of the film is the whale wash where Oscar works, just as his father did (as a tongue scraper). I could have done with more footage of the whales coming through, having their barnacles scraped and their teeth cleaned. Unfortunately the writers of the film failed to seize the opportunity to teach as well as entertain, and don’t really get into much detail on the concept of a cleaning station. Finding Nemo is filled with hidden facts about reef and ocean life that children will absorb while bonding with Nemo and his friends. Shark Tale fails both on this front and the pop-culture references (for entertainment of adult viewers) front.

The plot follows an ambitious cleaner wrasse called Oscar, voiced by Will Smith, who is present at the accidental killing of a shark (the son of a mafia boss). Oscar claims credit, becomes instantly famous, and sees his fortunes change from working in a dead end job at the whale wash to king of the reef. He gets a manager, a new girlfriend, and forgets his former friends. Lots of things happen (the Wikipedia entry on the movie has an excruciatingly detailed plot breakdown), Oscar learns some lessons, recognises who his true friends are, and in the end goes back to living a life of integrity.

If you’re in doubt as to which of Shark Tale and Finding Nemo to choose for your kids, go with Nemo.

If you’d rather read a tale about an actual shark, click here.

The DVD is available here if you’re in South Africa, and here if you’re not.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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