Shark Tale

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Shark Tale Movie Poster Image
Fast, fresh, funny action comedy set undersea.
  • PG
  • 2004
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 31 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 50 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Viewers get a view of life under the sea-- but with all the cultural and product references, it seems to mirror our own urban life. 

Positive Messages

It's important to be real with your friends rather than be distracted by the superficialities of glamor and fame. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lenny is a shark vegetarian and must learn to be himself no matter what other sharks think about it. Oscar learns to value what he has instead of envying the glamor of luxury and celebrity. 

Violence & Scariness

Cartoon sharks act like they're in the mafia, fighting and chasing other fish. A fish and a shark have a pretend fight in front of all the other fish, where they throw and spin each other as though they're in a professional wrestling match. In another scene, a shark dies and there's a parody of a mafia funeral. 

Sexy Stuff

Brief fish makeout sessions. 


Various products are parodied, using fishy takeoffs on their familiar logos: Coca-Cola, Gap, Krispy Kreme, Preparation H, Burger King. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shark Tale is a hip-hop/mob computer-animated film filled with all-star voices (Will Smith and Jack Black, among others) and some bright musical numbers. There's some cartoon violence -- sharks act like they're in the mafia (lots of "Fuhgeddaboutit!"), only they chase and eat fish. A fish and a shark have a pretend fight in front of all the other fish, where they throw and spin each other as though they're in a professional wrestling match. In another scene, a shark dies and there's a parody of a mafia funeral. There are dozens of gags and pop-cultural references, and well-known products are parodied in undersea fashion, such as "Coral Cola." There's nothing too off-color, but there's one fish fart joke. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJjSmihal April 9, 2008

We had an enjoyable evening!

We took our 4 year old to see the movie Saturday night. She enjoyed it, but remembered little about the plot. I felt that it had many twists and turns and sna... Continue reading
Parent of a 6, 16, 18+, and 18+-year-old Written byindianajoe December 28, 2013

Animated blaxploitation

I got to watch this whole thing stuck in line in a Comcast office. I've never seen groups of characters so segregated from each other. Or so uninteresting.... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byBartram Petrikov September 9, 2021

Not too shabby, not the best either.

This movie is a glass half-empty-half-full situation. It all depends on how you look at it.
Teen, 17 years old Written byAGClyde May 15, 2021

Funny Fish Adventure

Jack Black and Will Smith did awesome! This movie is so funny and creative. The animation is great and the story was fun and engaging. Can't say no to funn... Continue reading

What's the story?

Oscar (voice of Will Smith) is a little fish who dreams of fame and fortune. When his blowfish boss, Sykes (voice of Martin Scorsese), says he needs the $5,000 Oscar owes him, pretty receptionist Angie (voice of Renee Zellweger) gives him her family heirloom pearl, which Oscar sells, but then loses the money gambling. Sykes' Rasta-jellyfish henchmen (voices of Doug E. Doug and Ziggy Marley) take Oscar out to rough him up, but a mix-up occurs in which Sykes' henchmen believe that Oscar has killed a shark, and the little fish returns home to be the celebrated as "the Shark Slayer." Oscar enjoys the high life until the sharks come searching for him. Meanwhile, shark Lenny (voice of Jack Black) runs away from home because he can't be a predator like his pop (voice of Robert De Niro) and the other sharks. Lenny teams up with Oscar. They decide stage a fight in which Oscar will pretend to kill Lenny, then the sharks will be too scared to come after Oscar, and Lenny can start a new life. But it's not a very good plan, as Lenny and Oscar soon find out.

Is it any good?

This hip-hop/mob action comedy set undersea is fast, fresh, fun, and finny ... er, funny. OK, you watch the movie and see if you don't come out making silly jokes like that. This isn't a classic like Finding Nemo or Shrek, but it throws so much at you so fast you will be too busy enjoying yourself to notice.

The plot is nothing special, but the visuals are, with eye-popping color and wonderfully expressive fish faces, hilariously funny and surprisingly touching. The voice talent is top-notch and the animators have managed to bring the essence of the actors to the characters. Don Lido has De Niro's birthmark on his cheek, and Oscar has Smith's eyes and mouth. There are dozens of gags and pop-cultural references and some bright musical numbers that keep things moving briskly, with a remake of the Rose Royce "Car Wash" song by Missy Elliot and Christina Aguilera a highlight.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why fame and fortune are so important to Oscar. Do you think the emphasis on celebrities in the media is affecting kids you know? 

  • Why it is so hard for Oscar to see how Angie feels about him -- and how he feels about her? 

  • Why do people like Lenny have a hard time feeling accepted and loved for who they are? What can friends and family do to support them?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Themes & Topics

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