- “Behind every little fish is a great white lie.”
Shark Tale (also known as Sharkslayer) is a 2004 American computer-animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and directed by Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron and Rob Letterman. The film stars the voices of Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, and Martin Scorsese (in his only voice acting role). Other roles were provided by Ziggy Marley, Doug E. Doug, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore, Peter Falk, and Katie Couric. It tells the story of a fish named Oscar (Smith) who falsely claims to have killed the son of a shark mob boss (De Niro) to advance his own community standing and teams up with the mobster's other son (Black) to keep up the other facade.
Shark Tale premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 10, 2004, and was theatrically released by DreamWorks Pictures on October 1. The film opened at #1 with $47.6 million, which was the second-highest opening for a DreamWorks Animation film at the time, behind Shrek 2 ($108 million). It remained as the #1 film in the U.S. and Canada for its second and third weekends, and made $367 million worldwide against its $75 million budget, despite received mixed reviews from critics. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature along with Shrek 2, losing to Pixar's The Incredibles. It is DreamWorks's ninth animated feature film.
A video game based on the film was released in 2004 on many platforms.
An underachieving fish named Oscar (Will Smith) fantasizes about being rich and famous while making his way to work by following in his father Earl's footsteps as a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash. Soon after arriving, he's called to the office of his boss Sykes (Martin Scorsese) to discuss the fact that he owes "five thousand clams" and has to pay it back by the next day. After explaining this to his best friend Angie (Renée Zellweger), she offers him a chance to pay back the money by pawning a pink pearl that was a gift from her grandmother. Oscar brings the money to the race track to meet Sykes, but becomes distracted by his wishes of grandeur and places it all on a long-shot bet by the name of Lucky Day. Such a million dollar bet is noticed nearby by a beautiful dragonfish named Lola (Angelina Jolie), who flagrantly flirts with Oscar until quickly discovering the truth. Sykes is furious that Oscar bets the money but agrees to see how the race turns out nonetheless. Moments before their "horse" Lucky Day crosses the finish line, he punches himelf in the face on line. The race is lost and Oscar is set to be punished in a secluded area for his impulsiveness.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, a family of criminally-inclined sharks has a problem with one of their sons named Lenny (Jack Black). Lenny, his older brother Frankie (Michael Imperioli), and their father Don Lino (Robert De Niro) live in the shipwrecked bow of the RMS Titanic. Lenny refuses to act the part of a killer and wishes to not have to live up to those expectations. Finally, Lino loses patience and tells Frankie to go out with Lenny tomorrow to teach Lenny how to be a shark, whether he likes it or not. As the two sharks set out to go in accordance with their father's wishes, Frankie spots the scene where Oscar is being electrocuted by Ernie and Bernie (Ziggy Marley and Doug E. Doug), Sykes' two Jamaican jellyfish thugs, and sends Lenny off to attack. The jellyfish spot Lenny and swim off, leaving Oscar alone with him. Lenny frees Oscar but fails to trick Frankie, who becomes annoyed and charges at Oscar until an unknown anchor falls and kills him. Lenny flees, overcome with grief and guilt. As no one saw the deed done and Oscar was seen near the body, everyone thinks he did it, and Oscar sees this as the chance to both redeem himself and receive his fame.
Oscar comes back to the city with a new title of the Sharkslayer. Sykes becomes his manager, Lola becomes his girlfriend, and Oscar moves to the "top of the reef" to live in luxury. At the same time, Lino has everyone out looking for Lenny, and when several get close to Oscar's town, the other fish expect him to drive them away. On the way, he meets Lenny once more who forces Oscar to let him stay with him because he does not want to go home. Soon, Angie finds out about the lie and threatens to tell everyone, but Oscar and Lenny convince her to keep quiet. Even though Oscar desires to please everyone, he soon discovers that he pleases no one; his paramour Angie is heartbroken by the fact that Oscar is no longer honest while her hedonistic rival Lola repeatedly reminds Oscar that he has her only as long as he's famous. With Don Lino planning revenge, Oscar and Lenny stage an event where Lenny pretends to terrorize the town and Oscar must defeat him, throwing him into the depths of the ocean. Even though this further cements Oscar as the Sharkslayer, it greatly angers Lino. Oscar leaves Lola for Angie after Angie reveals that she had feelings for Oscar even before he became famous, but this leaves Lola determined to get revenge.
Oscar buys some Valentine's Day gifts for Angie, but before he can present them to her, he finds out that Lino kidnapped her in order to force a sit-down. Lenny comes along, now disguised as a whale-washing dolphin named Sebastian. They arrive at the meeting to find Lola next to Lino while Angie is bound and gagged with duct tape and presented to Lino on a plate, who prepares to eat her if Oscar doesn't comply. Oscar just laughs and Lenny as "Sebastian" lunges forward to scoop Angie into his mouth, freeing her from Lino and giving Oscar dominance over the sharks. However, he spends too much time threatening the sharks and doesn't realize how much pain Lenny is in, and Angie is regurgitated onto the table. Lino suddenly realizes it's Lenny and proceeds to chase Oscar through the reef, but Oscar heads for the whale wash and ends up trapping both sharks. Given an ovation by the other fish, Oscar confesses that he is not a "Sharkslayer" and that it was an anchor that had killed Frankie. He then strongly urges Lino not to prejudge people before he knows them properly and to not make the mistake he made in prejudging his wealth, so Lino and Lenny reconcile. Oscar forsakes all the wealth he has acquired, makes peace with the sharks, becomes manager of the Whale Wash (now frequented by sharks), and starts dating Angie. Meanwhile, Lola attempts to reconcile with Oscar but later ends up with Crazy Joe.
- Will Smith as Oscar
- Jack Black as Lenny
- Renée Zellweger as Angie
- Robert De Niro as Don Lino
- Martin Scorsese as Sykes
- Angelina Jolie as Lola
- Ziggy Marley and Doug E. Doug as Ernie and Bernie
- Michael Imperioli as Frankie
- Vincent Pastore as Luca
- Peter Falk as Don Feinberg
- David P. Smith as Crazy Joe
- Katie Couric (US), Fiona Philips (UK) & Tracy Grimshaw (AUS) as Katie Current
- Jeremy Suarez as Shorty
- David Soren as Shrimp
- Phil LaMarr as Prawn Shop owner
- Frank Welker as Animals' vocal effects
Critical reception to Shark Tale since its release has been mixed to unfavorable. This film was (and still is) despised by the Dreamworks fan base and is considered their weakest film ever due to the characters looking too much like their voice actors. forced pop culture references, Oscar being an unlikeable protagonist, and using the undersea setting to copy the sucess of Finding Nemo.
The review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that critics gave the film a 36% "rotten" approval rating (based on 169 reviews), and reads, "Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes". Critical reception from Metacritic to Shark Tale was also mixed. It received an overall 48/100 approval rating (based on 36 reviews) and Metacritic users gave the film a 5.2/10 rating (based on 40 votes).
It was also compared to previous "Finding Nemo" and people said that Dreamworks ripped off the aforementioned Pixar film with bad pop culture jokes.
Despite the mixed reviews and strong hatred for the film, the film grossed $47,604,606 on its opening weekend placing itself #1. For the next two weeks, it stayed as the #1 film, grossing $31,330,299 on its 2nd week and on its 3rd week, the film grossed $22,005,952. Overall, the film made $160 million nationwide and $206 million overseas with $367 million worldwide.
John Mancini, the founder of the Italic Institute of America, protested Shark Tale for perpetuating negative stereotypes of Italian-Americans in its antagonists. DreamWorks reacted by changing the name of Peter Falk's character from Don Brizzi to Don Feinberg. However, Mancini demanded that everything Italian — character names, the mannerisms, the forms of speech — be dropped. The American Family Association, a Christian conservative organization, raised concerns about Shark Tale, suggesting that it was designed to promote the acceptance of gay rights by children.
Roger Ebert gave Shark Tale two out of four stars, observing "Since the target audience for Shark Tale is presumably kids and younger teenagers, how many of them have seen the R-rated Godfather and will get all the inside jokes? Not a few, I suppose, and some of its characters and dialogue have passed into common knowledge. But it's strange that a kid-oriented film would be based on parody of a 1972 gangster movie for adults." He also opined that younger viewers would have trouble enjoying a film about adult characters with adult problems, such as an elaborate love triangle and a main character wanting to clear his debt with loan sharks, and compared it to more successful fish-focused animated features like Pixar Animation Studios' Finding Nemo, which Ebert felt featured a simpler plot that audiences could more easily identify with. However, Richard Roeper commented that although the film wasn't on the same level as Finding Nemo, it was definitely a film worth seeing.
- Main article: Club Oscar
A short film called Club Oscar was released on February 8, 2005, along with the DVD release of Shark Tale.
- Angie (First appearance)
- Bernie (First appearance)
- Christina Aguilera (jellyfish) (First appearance)
- Crazy Joe (First appearance)
- Mussel Crowe (First mentioned)
- Katie Current (First appearance)
- Earl (First appearance) (flashback only)
- Ernie (First appearance)
- Don Feinberg (First appearance)
- Fish Fingers (First appearance)
- Giuseppe (First appearance)
- Great White Sharks
- Headphone Guy (First appearance)
- Horace the Shrimp (First appearance)
- Janice (First appearance)
- Knuckles (First appearance)
- Lola (First appearance)
- Luca (octopus) (First appearance)
- Lucky Day (First appearance)
- Mrs. Sanchez (First appearance)
- Oceanus (First appearance)
- Oscar (First appearance)
- Salmonella (First appearance)
- Seabiscuit (First appearance)
- Shorty (First appearance)
- Jessica Shrimpson (First mentioned)
- Cod Stewart (First mentioned)
- The Swordfish (First appearance)
- Sykes (First appearance)
- Tuna Turner (First mentioned)
- The Turtles (First appearance)
- The Worm (First appearance)
- Yellow Tail (First appearance)
- Sea 9 (First appearance)
- It is paired with Shrek 2, Balto III: Wings of Change, and The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses.
- This is a first computer-animated film by DreamWorks Animation to be produced at their Glendale studio.