A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Fish Tale -- an inventive, animated Danish film (nicely revoiced for English-speaking audiences) -- includes some suspenseful moments and some moderately scary visuals (an angry octopus, a toothy shark-villain, a raging storm, a battling army of crabs). Though no one is hurt or killed, the kids (and fish) are threatened with warfare, physical harm and/or death in several scenes, so it may not be right for very young kids or those who are easily frightened. One chubby boy is a stereotypical nerdy kid, teased because of his weight and smarts, but he's ultimately very likeable and proves to be someone the others can rely on.
What's the story?
In A FISH TALE, Fly (Jeff Pace) is a great kid who loves a good adventure. He's looking forward to going fishing when his plans are abruptly canceled -- his parents are going out, leaving him and his little sister, Stella, with their bossy aunt and her nerdy son, Charles (Aaron Paul). Initially miffed, Fly seizes opportunity when his aunt falls asleep. The boy sneaks out, taking Stella and a reluctant Charles with him. Together the three kids make their way to the seashore where they encounter a mad scientist (Terry Jones) who's obsessed with saving the world from the rising seas that will result from global warming. From then on, it's one misstep after another: Fly and company accidentally turn into fish, end up in the ocean with a power-hungry enemy (Alan Rickman), and find themselves in a race against time to recover the antidote which will turn them back into themselves.
Is it any good?
This is an entertaining, nicely animated story, with engaging heroes, cleverly designed musical sequences, and exciting action. Alan Rickman, in a funny, slitheringly evil performance made well before he created the villainous Snape in the Harry Potter movies, tops a solid cast.
The animation is old-fashioned and combines simply-drawn characters with beautiful underwater settings. The submerged ocean liner and the mad scientist's laboratory are particularly original. Charming enough for kids' repeated viewings, there's enough wit to sustain grownups as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how action and violence is depicted differently. Do you think the action or violence in animated movies is as scary as in live-action movies? Why or why not? What kinds of scenes frighten you the most?
What is a stereotype? How is the character of Charles a "stereotype"? How did your opinion of him change by the end of the story?
When this movie was marketed for an American audience, the name was changed from Help! I'm A Fish to A Fish Tale. Do you like that change? What do you think was the reasoning behind it?
- In theaters: June 29, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: September 5, 2006
- Cast: Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Jeff Pace
- Directors: Greg Manwaring, Michael Hegner, Stefan Fjeldmark
- Studio: Genius Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and sisters, Misfits and underdogs, Ocean creatures
- Run time: 77 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love animals
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.