Fishtales

 
Tween-friendly but mediocre mermaid tale sinks.
  • Review Date: August 28, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Love comes from unexpected sources and at unexpected times.

Positive role models

A daughter cares for her father and wants to see him happy and in love. He is indulgent of her, but seems erratic. Academics are portrayed as fuddy duddies.

Violence

Errant fireworks ignite a bride’s dress; a chicken is bludgeoned (though we don’t see anything except for a few flying feathers); a marble statue falls on a man. A man slaps his tween son.

Sex

Nothing racy; some mild flirting and scenes with bikini-clad women. The mermaid here is, like previous movie mermaids, naked from the waist up except for scales that cover her breasts.

Language

Not much swearing, except for the words “bitch” and “a-hole” (not “asshole”).

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A champagne bottled is popped at a wedding.

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.

Kids say

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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?

QUALITY
 

Tone-deaf from beginning to end -- Is it a comedy? A romance? A coming-of-age tale? A mystery? -- FISHTALES tries so hard one wants nothing more than to relieve itself of its exertions. 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Serena and her dad: Is he a good father? Why does he need to be taken care of even though he’s the grown-up?

  • How does the mermaid change their lives?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 1, 2008
DVD release date:August 26, 2008
Cast:Billy Zane, Kelly Brook
Director:Alki David
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Ocean creatures
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some rude humor and language

This review of Fishtales was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 3, 8, and 10 year old Written byJennTheGamerMom February 7, 2011
age 8+
 

Okay for kids, boring for adults

Meh. Totally dull for me, but perfectly fine for an eight-year-old home from school with a feverish cold. The daughter does a nice job caring for her father
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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