A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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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.
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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?
- In theaters: October 1, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: February 8, 2005
- Cast: Renee Zellweger, Robert De Niro, Will Smith
- Directors: Eric Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild language and crude humor
- Last updated: February 25, 2020
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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.
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