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"Shark Tale"

Directed by Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron and Rob Letterman.
Written by Rob Letterman, Damian Shannon, Mark Swift and Michael J. Wilson.
Starring the voices of Will Smith, Jack Black, Renée Zellweger and Robert De Niro.

Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  10/5/04


Here's what I know--if the kids are not laughing or excited about what's happening onscreen, I know that something's wrong during animated films.

And, in my audience for "Shark Tale" tonight, the kids in attendance didn't seem too enthralled with the goods here.  That's because for the most part, it fucking blows.

Will Smith stars as Oscar, a fish with a dead-end job cleaning up at The Whale Wash, a low-rent service shop in...the ocean, where Oscar resides along with his friends like Angie (Renée Zellweger), another Whale Wash employee that has had a crush on Oscar for, like, ever!  After failing to pay off a debt to the local mob, Oscar has a run-in with two sharks that leaves one of the sharks dead...the other, a vegetarian mob flunky named Lenny (Jack Black), wants to get out of the mob however he can, even if that means siding with the weaker fish to escape his kingpin father Don Lino (Robert De Niro).

And so on.  It's weird, given the fact that the producers somehow got A-listers like Zellweger, Smith, and Angelina Jolie to agree to such an atrocious script...and then you factor in De Niro and Martin Scorsese--yes, the DIRECTOR, Marty Scorsese, heretofore known to many people as possibly the greatest director alive--and you have yourself a film that might be a Hard Vice in many folks' eyes.  I sat there for a while just waiting for something to be funny; I would have thought the people that gave us the "Shrek" films would have given me something funny, be it straight lines, or mocking pop culture, or sight gags...something.  Anything!  But, you wait for what feels like hours for something even remotely humorous, and usually, this never comes.  I don't know if Smith has ever been this unfunny; maybe in "Wild Wild West", but even then, I remember chuckling a couple of times.  Even the main plot is dogshit--the whole "Sharkslayer" angle seems to die in the water halfway through the film, and for about a 20-minute stretch the film seems to be drowning and actively aware of it.

The script ruins almost everything else about "Shark Tale", but even the poor writing doesn't affect the incredible animation of these creations.  The film is good-looking (even IF we just had an animated aquatic adventure in "Finding Nemo") and at least it's easy on the eyes since the dialogue really grates at the ears and the psyche.  Plus we got trailers for like four other animated films coming out between now and next summer, so it looks like the future is bright even if the present is fucking grounded.

See "Shark Tale" at your own risk...don't feed the fishes!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09