Help! I'm a Fish

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Help! I'm a Fish
United Kingdom cover art
DanishHjælp, jeg er en fisk
Directed byStefan Fjeldmark
Michael Hegner
Greg Manwaring (uncredited)
Written byStefan Fjeldmark
Karsten Kiilerich
John Stefan Olsen
Tracy J. Brown
Produced byAnders Mastrup
Russell Boland
StarringJeff Pace
Michelle Westerson
Aaron Paul
Terry Jones
Alan Rickman
David Bateson
Edited byPer Risager
Music bySøren Hyldgaard
Distributed byNordisk Film (Denmark)
Kinowelt (Germany)
Release dates
  • 6 October 2000 (2000-10-06) (Denmark)
  • 12 April 2001 (2001-04-12) (Germany)
  • 24 August 2001 (2001-08-24) (Ireland)
Running time
72 minutes
Budget101 million DKK ($18 million USD)[1]
Box office$5.6 million[2]

Help! I'm A Fish (Danish: Hjælp, jeg er en fisk; also known as A Fish Tale) is a 2000 animated science fantasy musical film directed by Stefan Fjeldmark, Greg Manwaring and Michael Hegner, and written by Stefan Fjeldmark, Karsten Kiilerich, John Stefan Olsen and Tracy J. Brown. It stars the voices of Alan Rickman, Terry Jones and a then-unknown Aaron Paul.

It was released on 6 October 2000 in Denmark, 10 August 2001 in the United Kingdom, and 5 September 2006 in the United States. Danish teen-pop girl group Little Trees performed the title track, "Help! I'm a Fish (Little Yellow Fish)", which was released as a single in the UK. Fellow Danish girl group Creamy also recorded a version of the song. The Belgian girl group K3 also recorded a Dutch version of the song for the movie. Animation production was split between A. Film Production in Denmark, Munich Animation in Germany and Terraglyph Interactive Studios in Dublin, Ireland.[3]


Fly is an impulsive 12-year-old boy living with his younger sister Stella and parents Lisa and Bill. When their parents go out for the night, Fly and Stella are babysat by their aunt Anna and her son Chuck, a cautious, overweight genetics prodigy, and Fly and Stella's cousin. When Anna falls asleep, the children sneak out to go fishing. Caught in a high tide, they stumble across the boathouse of Professor MacKrill, an eccentric but kindly marine biologist. Reasoning that climate change will melt the polar icecaps to produce marine transgression within the next century, MacKrill reveals he has developed a potion to transform humans into marine animals, along with an antidote to reverse the process.

Mistaking it for lemonade, Stella drinks the potion and turns into a starfish, which Fly unknowingly throws out the window into the sea. Chuck discovers the mistake after finding Stella's transformation caught on camera. The trio set out to find Stella, but their boat sank in a storm. Fly and Chuck drink the potion, becoming a California flying fish and a moon jellyfish. Bill and Lisa return home to find Anna frantic with worry. Noticing that Fly's fishing equipment is gone, Bill, Lisa, and Anna head to the beach to search for them but find only Fly's rollerblades. The adults fear the worst until Professor MacKrill, having survived the storm, arrives and shows them the video of Stella's transformation.

Underwater, the leaking antidote attracts a lemon shark and a pilot fish. They consume it, gaining intelligence and anthropomorphic appearances. The pilot fish names himself Joe and uses the antidote to create a civilisation of intelligent fish, intending to launch a revolution against humanity whilst The Shark becomes his dim-witted subordinate.

Fly, Chuck, and Stella reunite, accompanied by Sasha, a seahorse whom Stella adopts. They must find the antidote within forty-eight hours, or their transformations will be permanent. The trio swims to Joe's domain, a sunken oil tanker, where Fly tries to steal the antidote. They are caught and interrogated by Joe about their intent and origins. He demands that they manufacture more of the antidote, or the Shark will eat them. The children are imprisoned and guarded by an aggressive, militaristic king crab. Sasha frees the children, who manage to escape.

The children decide their only hope to become human again is to duplicate the antidote's formula, gathering ingredients from around the ocean. Just as they complete the potion, Joe and his army appear and corner them. In a stand-off, Joe drinks the last of the original antidote, transforming his fins into hands. The children try to escape, but Fly gets wounded by the Crab, who drinks the new antidote and declares himself King Crab. At the same time, MacKrill and Bill pass over in a makeshift boat powered by a water pump. The pump causes an underwater typhoon, sucking up the army. The Shark eats the King Crab but is incapacitated when he is sucked head-first into the pump.

Chuck remembers that MacKrill has another vial of the antidote in his laboratory. Formulating a plan, Chuck plans to carry Fly and Stella through dangerous seawater intake pipes back to the lab. However, Stella has to leave Sasha behind as the journey could kill her. The children flood MacKrill's laboratory to reach the potion, but Joe follows, stealing it. Fly pursues Joe into the pipes, tricking him into repeatedly drinking from the potion by challenging his intellect, causing Joe to eventually mutate into a deformed humanoid and drown.

Fly drags the antidote back into the lab, Chuck uncorking it just as Lisa and Anna open the door to the flooded lab. Chuck and Stella become human once more, reuniting with their parents and MacKrill. After a few tense moments in which a stuffed fish is mistaken for Fly's body, the human Fly emerges from one of the lab's pipes with a broken leg. Some time afterwards, the family and MacKrill spend some time together on the beach. Sasha appears, so Chuck and MacKrill transform her into an actual horse, who Stella rides around joyfully.


Character Danish voice actor English voice actor
Fly Sebastian Jessen Jeff Pace
Stella Pil Neja Michelle Westerson
Chuck Morten Kernn Nielsen Aaron Paul
Joe Nis Bank-Mikkelsen Alan Rickman
Professor H.O. MacKrill[4] Søren Sætter-Lassen Terry Jones
Shark Dick Kaysø David Bateson
Sasha Louise Fribo Frank Welker
General Crab Ulf Pilgaard David Bateson
Bill (The Father) Peter Gantzler John Payne
Lisa (The Mother) Paprika Steen Teryl Rothery
Aunt Anna Ghita Nørby Pauline Newstone
Bus driver Zlatko Burić Richard Newman
Seabass Martin Brygmann Scott McNeil

Production and music[edit]

On 4 October 1997, Stefan Fjeldmark (who is the film's writer), Michael Hegner and Greg Manwaring were hired and set to direct Help! I'm a Fish also known as A Fish Tale. Karsten Kiilerich, John Stefan Olsen and Tracy J. Brown wrote the script for the film. Anders Mastrup and Russell Boland produced the film for release in 2000. On 9 March 1998, it was announced that Jeff Pace, Sebastian Jessen, Michelle Westerson, Pil Neja, Alessandro Juliani, Aaron Paul, Morten Kernn Nielsen, Terry Jones, Søren Sætter-Lassen, Alan Rickman, Nis Bank-Mikkelsen, David Bateson, Dick Kaysø, Louise Fribo, Ulf Pilgaard, John Payne, Peter Gantzler, Teryl Rothery, Paprika Steen, Pauline Newstone, Ghita Nørby, Richard Newman and Zlatko Buric joined the film. On April 12, 1999, it was announced that Søren Hyldgaard would compose the music for the film. In 1996, a pilot trailer was completed, which has resurfaced on the Internet. The environment and object designs, animation, plot, character names, voices and designs are noticeably different from how they would eventually appear in the finished film.[5][better source needed]

Development and storyboarding of the film were completed in Denmark. Production then moved to Germany and Ireland for the final phases of animation, lighting, colour and production to maximise tax credits offered to foreign film projects in Germany and Ireland. The film's soundtrack contains "Help! I'm a Fish (Little Yellow Fish)" performed by Little Trees, "Agloubablou" performed by Cartoons, "Ocean of Emotion" performed by Meja, "People Lovin Me" performed by Lou Bega, "Ocean Love/Ton Amour Ocean" performed by Anggun, "Close Your Eyes" performed by Patricia Kaas, "Interlude" performed by Terry Jones, "Fishtastic" performed by Terry Jones and "Intelligence" performed by Alan Rickman.


The film was released theatrically on 6 October 2000 by HanWay Films and Nordisk Film[6] and was released on DVD and VHS on 6 January 2003 by Movie Star. In the UK, the English dub of the film was released in 2003. In North America, the English dub of the film was released in 2006 by Genius Products[7] and in 2007 by Alliance Atlantis.

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $5.6 million in Denmark against an approximate $18 million budget.[2][1]


Help! I'm a Fish won a Children's Jury Award for Feature Film or Video – Animation in the 2000 Chicago International Children's Film Festival.[8]


Help! I'm a Fish
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Released28 February 2003
GenreMovie soundtrack
  • Medley Records
  • Trust Soundtracks
  • EMI
ProducerVarious Artists
Søren Hyldgaard film scores chronology
Help! I'm a Fish
Pixie Panic
Singles from Help! I'm a Fish
  1. "Help! I'm a Fish (Little Yellow Fish)"
    Released: March 26, 2001
  1. Help! I'm a Fish (Little Yellow Fish)Little Trees
  2. Do You Believe in Magic? – Loona
  3. Wooble Dee Bubble – Cartoons
  4. People Lovin' Me – Lou Bega
  5. Funky Sharks – Shaka feat. Sko
  6. Mother Nature – Little Trees
  7. Interlude (Professor) – Terry Jones
  8. Fishtastic – Terry Jones
  9. Ocean Love – Eddi Reader
  10. Close Your Eyes – Patricia Kaas
  11. Interlude (Jelly Fish) – Jeff Pace & Alessandro Juliani
  12. Suddenly – Solveig
  13. Ocean Of Emotion – Meja
  14. Intelligence – Alan Rickman
  15. Interlude (Goodbye) – Michelle Westerson
  16. Barracuda – Zindy featuring Pablo


The film's stars Aaron Paul and Alan Rickman would later co-star again in the 2015 film Eye In The Sky, released shortly after Rickman's death. Paul expressed his regret that despite working with Rickman on Help! I'm A Fish and Eye in the Sky, they never got the chance to meet.[9]


  1. ^ a b [1], Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Help! I'm a Fish (2003) - Box Office Mojo". Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  3. ^ Irish Film and Television Network Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Urban Cinefile Feature". Archived from the original on 2005-07-24.
  5. ^ "A fish tale pilot trailer (1996)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 14 July 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Hjælp! Jeg er en fisk – Danish Film Institute". Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  7. ^ "A Fish Tale DVD". 5 September 2006. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  9. ^ "Aaron Paul: 'It's impossible not to throw our own emotions into the mix'". The Guardian. 10 April 2016. Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.

External links[edit]