A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this father-daughter comedy would be quite inoffensive were it not for the fact that it’s mind-numbingly boring. It makes little sense, plot-wise, and though the heroine is a plucky 12-year-old who may appeal to tween viewers, it’s really jumbled. There’s some minor swearing, but not much.
What's the story?
Dr. Thomas Bradley (Billy Zane) is a visiting professor emeritus of classical studies at prestigious Oxford University. He has the summer to complete his academic research, or else he will lose his position. A fellow professor offers his retreat on the Greek island of Spetses, and at his 12 year-old daughter Serena’s (Amber Savva) urging, they accept. Never mind that he can’t swim and hates water. On the way to their getaway, he falls overboard and, without his knowledge, is saved from drowning by a mermaid (Kelly Brook), who will prove significant to his research and his future. Meantime, the secret may be out that a mermaid is trawling the local waters, and anyone who captures the creature stands to make some money.
Is it any good?
FISHTALES tries so hard that one wants nothing more than to relieve itself of its exertions. It's tone-deaf from beginning to end. Is it a comedy? A romance? A coming-of-age tale? A mystery? The plot sounds promising enough, but the execution is marred by poor pacing and odd scenes that neither advance the story nor build on its arc, made worse by slapdash editing that inhibits a flow. (Why is the landlady whacking a chicken out of the blue? Why would father and daughter be invited to a local wedding where, it has to mentioned, rave music is playing? Why is the mermaid heavily accessorized with jewelry that looks like it came from a downscale mall?)
The underwater scenes, while prettily filmed, reveal a set so hokey -- intact Greek columns and submerged at snorkeling depths? -- one wonders how they were conceived in the first place. Besides, the mermaid doesn’t look remotely real, though her swimming’s impressive, and how she drops into the plot is woefully random. The one bright spot: Some sweet chemistry between Savva and Zane as father and daughter.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: May 1, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: August 26, 2008
- Cast: Billy Zane, Kelly Brook
- Director: Alki David
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Ocean Creatures
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor and language
- Last updated: October 17, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
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.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch