Shark Tale

Okay, I know what everyone is thinking… another animated underwater movie? Didn’t we just get Finding Nemo on video? However, this action comedy set undersea is a must sea (see) for families young and old. Shark Tale is filled with humor, excitement, and a great soundtrack to boot featuring such stars as Christina Aguilerra and Missy Elliott.

The plot revolves around a little fish named Oscar (Will Smith) who fantasizes about being rich and famous as he spends his days as a mouth scrubber in a whale wash. He is so busy wondering about how he will achieve this goal that he doesn’t recognize the pretty receptionist Angie (Renee Zelwegger) is head over heels in love with him. Oscar also hasn’t been doing a good job of keeping track of how much money he has borrowed from his boss; a blowfish named Sykes (Martin Scorsese). So, one day when Sykes says he is ready to be paid back the $5000 Oscar owes him, Angie coughs up the money for him by selling her family heirloom pink pearl. It seems as if all will be fine for Oscar until he takes the money and bets it all on one seahorse at the racetrack where he is going to meet Sykes. The seahorse loses.

Needless to say, Oscar is put in a little bit of a jam. Sykes sends his two Rasta-jellyfish after Oscar to rough him up a bit. In the process, they come across two sharks, Frankie (Michael Imperioli) who is more of the tough guy, and Lenny (Jack Black) who is a closet vegetarian and gentle as a lamb. Frankie is busy trying to train Lenny how to be a killer so that they can take over the family business from their mobster father, Don Lino (Robert De Niro). Unfortunately, Frankie is hit by anchor right next to where Oscar has been tied up and left for dead. The jellyfish only see sand flying and Oscar standing over a huge, dead shark. Instantly, Oscar claims his fame as "The Shark Slayer," and returns home to be honored and adored by all of the other fish.

Now, Sykes sees this as an opportunity and becomes Oscar’s manager. Oscar is truly living the life of the rich and famous. He lives in a penthouse, is on every billboard in town, and one of the most beautiful fish in the ocean is interested in him. However, there is one shark that knows Oscar’s secret. Lenny couldn’t bear the guilt of his brother dying, so he runs away to where Oscar lives. He and Oscar must devise a way to keep him hidden so that the other fish will not be afraid of him. In the mean time, the sharks come to town to find the "Shark Slayer." Lenny and Oscar decide to stage a fight where Oscar wins. This way, Oscar will scare off the sharks, and Lenny can start a new life. The plan seems flawless, however not as good as they thought as Lenny and Oscar come to find out.

This film was entertaining from start to finish with colorful scenes and its action-packed plot. Above all, the music keeps viewers bopping in their seats with such classics as "Car Wash" and "Don’t Worry." Parents should be aware that one scene involves the death of a shark that is both a brother and son of two other characters. There is also a bit of crude humor and a few scenes where some of the younger fish are engaged in spraypaint graffiti.

Parents may also want to be aware of the strong theme of the mob with characters names that are Italian and actors who play them that are associated with such films as "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas." They should know that these actors are mocking their other roles and not trying to give a negative impression of Italian culture.

Families who see this film should talk about why being rich and famous was so important for Oscar. How did lying get Oscar in trouble? They should also talk about how Lenny was different from the other sharks. Why did he feel so inadequate to his father, and why wasn’t he able to express himself freely?