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Shark Tale (Mark's Take)

02/11/2004. Contributed by Mark R. Leeper

Buy Shark Tale in the USA - or Buy Shark Tale in the UK

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Dreamscape's latest animated film is set in a sort of undersea urban environment and should entertain the whole family. The story is familiar but the jokes come in a rapid fire.

SHARK TALE
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Dreamscape's latest animated film is set in a sort of undersea urban environment and should entertain the whole family. The story is familiar but the jokes come in a rapid fire. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10.

Dreamworks continues their competition with Pixar for the audience of animated films. They made ANTS when Pixar made A BUG'S LIFE. Pixar did their fish film with FINDING NEMO and Dreamworks has followed suit with their fish film, SHARK TALE.

Pixar used very naturalistic artwork capturing the beauty of Australia's Great Barrier Reef in digital animation and has well-written characters. Dreamworks's film uses a fantasy urban environment under the sea. Their characters are intentionally cliched, being essentially film references. The writing team has ratcheted up the pace of the jokes to a machine gun staccato.

For a story they used as a framework a story Disney animated back in 1941, "The Reluctant Dragon" (based on Kenneth "Wind in the Willows" Grahame's story). The pacifist dragon becomes the vegetarian shark Lenny (voiced by Jack Black). The timid dragon-slaying human is now a timid shark- slaying fish Oscar (Will Smith).

Other popular stars doing voices include Robert DeNiro, Renee Zellweger, Anjolina Jolie, Martin Scorsese, and Peter Falk. Somehow we have come to believe that animated films need big stars to do the voices.

The film is made palatable for a wide audience not by telling one story that can be appreciate on many levels, generally the Pixar approach, but rather by planting a lot of jokes to be enjoyed only by the adults or perhaps only by fans of classic films.

The distinction might be that Pixar makes family films, Dreamworks makes children's films that adults can enjoy. Quotes from familiar films abound. Product placements also are present in profusion, though always for joke value.

Stay around through the closing credits. There are still more jokes.

Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 2004 Mark R. Leeper

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