A Fish Tale (Help! I'm a Fish)

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
A Fish Tale (Help! I'm a Fish) Movie Poster Image
Animated sea adventure with kid heroes, music, mild scares.
  • G
  • 2001
  • 77 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

Introduces some species of fish and underwater creatures. References the causes and results of global warming

Positive messages

Advocates teamwork, friendship, and "brain power" (using logic and knowledge lead to success). The concept of global warming -- and what will happen to our ecosystem because of it -- plays a major part in the movie's story. Some stereotyping: an overweight boy is nerdy and the butt of jokes, but proves himself worthy in a pinch; his overweight mother is bossy and made to look foolish.

Positive role models & representations

Though he initially disobeys an important rule, the courageous young hero has empathy, strength of character, and takes responsibility for his mistakes. His two companions are equally resourceful and the three work together to get themselves out of trouble.

Violence & scariness

Cartoon action throughout. Three kids are in danger in multiple scenes. They are trapped by a high tide and roiling ocean; they fall through a tunnel and down stairs; find themselves cast overboard in the ocean during a storm; and more than once they must battle armies of crabs and other fish led by an evil pilot fish and his shark commander. They are in a race against time to find an antidote to restore them to human form and are threatened with death by "execution" and by piranhas. Some dark, suspenseful music and comically scary creatures (a shark, an octopus, the power-hungry pilot fish).

Sexy stuff
Drinking, drugs & smoking

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.

User Reviews

Adult Written bynduns July 13, 2013

Surprisingly smart

For a film that critics often say won't appeal that much to older viewers, this film is quite well-written a lot of the time. True, some things are a tad... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmybecs February 8, 2015

Lovely magical movie!

I loved this movie growing up-I still love it now! Great storyline, some bits are slightly confusing so I wouldn't recommend for under 6 year olds. Fab fab... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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