Shark Tale

  • Review Date: February 6, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Fast, fresh, funny action comedy set undersea.
  • Review Date: February 6, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 92 minutes





What parents need to know

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

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. 

Not applicable

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

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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. 

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:October 1, 2004
DVD release date:February 8, 2005
Cast:Renee Zellweger, Robert De Niro, Will Smith
Directors:Eric Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson
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

This review of Shark Tale was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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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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Adult Written byKristen Breck April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Sexy, manipulative fish and mob humor for kids?

This movie was visually interesting, but my kids were dizzy by the end of it. There is so much adult humor and adult references that much of it was lost on the kids, and shocking to me. Furthermore, I don't think that a slinky sexy fish charcater, nor mob humor and mob character take-offs are appropriate or funny for my 6, 8, and 10 year olds. It was a frenetic movie with fast scene-changes, a culture icon-catering stereotypical take-off of nothing. I think it missed not only its audience, but a potential to reach sensitive kids.
Teen, 13 years old Written byrebma97 October 7, 2010

Underwater film is okay for kids

An okay film, not my favorite Dreamworks movie but it's good (an it had Will Smith in it so it had to be good!)
Adult Written byjchop April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

VERY Disappointing

This movie is NOT for small children. In fact, I have a hard time deciding who this movie is for. In one word this move was ghetto. Hip-hop? Maybe. I'm very disappointed that Will Smith (whom I adore) would make such a movie. The plot is weak, it's laden with sexual innuendo (Lola) and the general theme really emphasized all you DON'T want your small children to learn. I can appreciate the entertainment value of the movie - but not for very small children. I suppose this movie is for 11-13 year olds??


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