Shark Tale

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Shark Tale
Movie poster Shark Tale.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVicky Jenson
Bibo Bergeron
Rob Letterman
Screenplay byMichael J. Wilson
Rob Letterman
Produced byBill Damaschke
Janet Healy
Allison Lyon Segan
Starring
Edited byNick Fletcher
Music byHans Zimmer
Production
company
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures[2]
DreamWorks Animation[1]
Release dates
  • September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10) (Venice)
  • October 1, 2004 (2004-10-01) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$75 million[2]
Box office$374.6 million[2]

Shark Tale is a 2004 American computer-animated adventure comedy film[4] produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by DreamWorks Pictures. Directed by Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron, and Rob Letterman (in Letterman's feature directorial debut), the film contains an ensemble cast starring the voices of Will Smith, Jack Black, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, and Martin Scorsese. Other voices include Ziggy Marley, Doug E. Doug, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore, Peter Falk, Kevin Pollak, and Katie Couric. It tells the story of a fish named Oscar (Smith) who falsely claims to have killed Frankie (Imperioli), the son of a shark mob boss named Don Lino (De Niro), to advance his community standing and teams up with the mobster's other son Lenny (Black) to keep up the facade.

Shark Tale premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 10, 2004, and was theatrically released in the United States on October 1. It made $374.6 million worldwide against its $75 million budget, finishing its theatrical run as the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2004. The film received mixed reviews from film critics. It was criticized by advocacy groups for its use of Italian-American stereotypes. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 77th Academy Awards, but lost to Pixar's The Incredibles.

Plot[edit]

In the Southside Reef, a lowly Hawaiian cleaner wrasse named Oscar fantasizes about being rich and famous. He owes money to his boss, a pufferfish named Sykes. His best friend, an angelfish named Angie, offers him a pearl that was a gift from her grandmother to pawn and pay his debt. Meanwhile, Don Edward Lino, the boss of a mob gang of sharks, orcas, swordfish and octopuses, dislikes that his son Lenny is a vegetarian. Lino orders his violent eldest son, Frankie, to mentor Lenny.

Oscar brings the money from the pearl to a seahorse race to meet Sykes, but hears that the race is rigged and bets it all on a seahorse named "Lucky Day". A lionfish gold digger named Lola sees this and flagrantly seduces Oscar. Sykes is annoyed that Oscar bet the money, but he hopes that Oscar might win. Lucky Day eventually takes the lead, only to trip and lose short of the finish line. Sykes loses his temper and orders his two Jamaican jellyfish henchmen, Ernie and Bernie, to deal with Oscar. While the two shock a tied-up Oscar, Frankie sees them and urges Lenny to eat Oscar, but Lenny instead frees Oscar and tells him to escape. Furious and fed up with his brother’s tenderness, Frankie charges at Oscar, but suddenly an anchor from above the surface falls on his neck, killing him. Devastated and blaming himself for his brother's demise, Lenny leaves. With no other witnesses, Oscar takes credit for killing Frankie and quickly rises in fame as the "Sharkslayer".

Sykes becomes Oscar's manager and forgives his debt, and Oscar moves to the "top of the reef" to live in luxury. At the same time, Lino has everyone search for Lenny and the "Sharkslayer". Oscar encounters Lenny who, aware of Oscar's lie, begs Oscar to let him stay at his place to avoid returning to his father. Angie soon finds out about Oscar's lie and threatens to tell everyone, but he and Lenny convince her to be quiet. The next day, Oscar and Lenny stage an event in which Lenny pretends to terrorize the town, and Oscar pretends to defeat him in battle, thus cementing Oscar's popularity and making the sharks believe that Lenny has been killed too, infuriating Lino. Lola kisses Oscar on camera, making Angie jealous. That night, as Lenny disguises himself for his new life as a dolphin, Oscar and Angie get into a heated argument, where she reveals that she had feelings for Oscar even before he became the "Sharkslayer". Oscar reflects on his selfishness and dumps Lola, who beats him up in anger.

Oscar buys some gifts for Angie, only to discover that Lino has kidnapped her to stage a meeting, which Lola is also attending in revenge for being dumped. Lino threatens to eat Angie if Oscar does not surrender, but Lenny "eats" Angie to save her. He soon regurgitates her, and Lino realizes that the disguised Lenny is his son. Enraged, Lino chases Oscar through the reef. Oscar flees to the Whale Wash, accidentally trapping Lenny in the machinery before also trapping Lino. Everyone cheers for Oscar, but he finally confesses the truth behind Frankie's death while urging Lino to respect Lenny's lifestyle. Lino reconciles with his son and accepts him, and states that he and his gang bear the city no ill will. Oscar forsakes all the wealth he has acquired, becomes co-manager of the Whale Wash (which is now frequented by the gang members), and begins a relationship with Angie.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Will Smith as Oscar, a comical, streetwise Hawaiian cleaner wrasse who works in the Whale Wash of Reef City and often concocts schemes to become rich.
  • Robert De Niro as Don Lino, a great white shark and leader of a mob consisting of criminally-inclined sharks, who wants his two sons to take over his business and run it together.
  • Renée Zellweger as Angie, Oscar's angelfish best friend and colleague who harbors a secret crush on Oscar.
  • Jack Black as Lenny, Don Lino's youngest son, a vegetarian, and the younger brother of Frankie, who becomes good friends with Oscar and Angie.
  • Angelina Jolie as Lola, a seductive lionfish whom Oscar develops a romantic interest in.
  • Martin Scorsese as Sykes, a loan shark pufferfish who owns the Whale Wash and to whom Oscar owes five thousand clams.
  • Ziggy Marley and Doug E. Doug as Ernie and Bernie, two jellyfish with Jamaican accents and Sykes' enforcers, who enjoy torturing Oscar with their painful stingers when he is in trouble with their boss.
  • Michael Imperioli as Frankie, Lenny's older brother and Don Lino's more vicious son, who is embarrassed by Lenny's vegetarian views.
  • Vincent Pastore as Luca, Don Lino's green octopus "left-hand, right-hand man", with a tendency to state the obvious, much to Lino's frustration.
  • Peter Falk as Don Feinberg, an elderly leopard shark and leader of a mob of criminally-inclined leopard sharks, who is a friend of Don Lino.
  • Katie Couric as Katie Current, the local reporter of the Southside Reef in the U.S. release. At the time, Katie Couric co-hosted Today in America.[5] In the Australian release, then local Today co-host Tracy Grimshaw dubbed the lines.[5] Fiona Phillips of the UK's GMTV performed the voice for the British release of the film.[6] Cristina Parodi of Italy's Verissimo provided the Italian version of the character.[7]
  • David P. Smith as Crazy Joe, a deranged hermit crab who is Oscar's friend.
  • Bobb'e J. Thompson, Kamali Minter, Emily Lyon Segan as the Shorties, three delinquent young fish and friends of Oscar who love to spray graffiti.
  • Shelley Morrison as Mrs. Sanchez
  • David Soren as an unnamed shrimp who fears being eaten by a shark and is an enemy to Don Lino.

Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott portray fish versions of themselves at the end of the film, singing "Car Wash".

Production[edit]

The film was officially announced and began production in April 2002, under the title of Sharkslayer,[8][9] with Vicky Jenson (Shrek) and Eric "Bibo" Bergeron (The Road to El Dorado) as directors. By September 2003, it had been retitled Shark Tale, to make the title sound less violent and more family friendly.[10][11] Bill Damaschke, the producer of the film, explained the change of the title: "We set out to make a movie a little more noir, perhaps a little darker than where we've landed."[12] Shark Tale is the first all computer-animated film produced at DreamWorks Animation's Glendale facility, which previously animated the studio's four hand-drawn animated movies, The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, as well as the first computer-animated film to not be produced by Pacific Data Images.[9]

James Gandolfini was initially set to voice the kingpin shark, named Don Lino, but he had to drop out, with Robert De Niro taking over the role.[9][13]

The film was produced concurrently with Finding Nemo, another animated film set underwater, which was released a year and a half before Shark Tale. DreamWorks Animation's CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, defended the film, saying that "any similarities are mere coincidence. We've been open with the Pixar people, so we don't step on each other's toes."[13]

Release[edit]

The Piazza San Marco in Venice a day before the film's world premiere, where it was projected on the world's largest inflatable movie screen.

Shark Tale was originally scheduled for general release on November 5, 2004, but it was moved up to October 1 to avoid competition with Pixar's The Incredibles releasing on the same weekend.[14] The film had its worldwide premiere on September 10, 2004, in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.[15] Screening as part of the Venice Film Festival, it marked the first time that Piazza San Marco was closed for a premiere of a major feature film.[15] The film was projected on the largest inflatable screen in the world, measuring more than six stories tall and over 3,900 square feet (360 m2). It required 20,000 cubic feet (570 m3) of air to inflate and more than 50 tons of water for stabilization.[15] The premiere was attended by 6,000 visitors,[16] including Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, and Michael Imperioli.[15] Jeffrey Katzenberg, the executive producer of the film, explained that they "wanted to find a unique way to introduce this movie to the world. We needed a big idea. … More than anything, we are in showbusiness. This is the show part."[16]

Home media[edit]

Shark Tale was released on DVD on February 8, 2005. Physical copies contain behind-the-scenes featurettes, games and activities, blooper reels, an audition for the whale Gigi, the Car Wash music video featuring Aguilera and Elliott, and a short film Club Oscar.[17] The film was released on Game Boy Advance Video in November 17,[18] and on Blu-ray on February 5, 2019.[19]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Shark Tale grossed $160.9 million in the United States and Canada and $213.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $374.6 million.[2] It was the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2004.[20]

Shark Tale opened at #1 with $47.6 million, which was, at the time, the second-highest opening for a DreamWorks Animation film behind Shrek 2 ($108 million).[21] It remained the #1 film in the U.S. and Canada for its second and third weekends.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 36% based on 183 reviews, with an average rating of 5.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100 based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[25]

Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars, observing, "Since the target audience for Shark Tale is presumably kids and younger teenagers, how many of them have seen the R-rated Godfather and will get all the inside jokes? Not a few, I suppose, and some of its characters and dialogue have passed into common knowledge. But it's strange that a kid-oriented film would be based on parody of a 1972 gangster movie for adults." He also opined that younger viewers would have trouble enjoying a film about adult characters with adult problems, such as an elaborate love triangle and a main character wanting to clear his debt with loan sharks, and compared it to more successful fish-focused animated features like Pixar Animation Studios' Finding Nemo, which Ebert felt featured a simpler plot that audiences could more easily identify with.[26] Richard Roeper commented that although the film was not on the same level as Finding Nemo, it was a film worth seeing.[27]

Todd McCarthy of Variety was critical of the film's lack of originality: "Overfamiliarity extends to the story, jokes and music, most of which reference popular entertainment of about 30 years ago" noting that the script combines The Godfather and Jaws, with a dash of Car Wash. McCarthy calls Smith's character "tiresomely familiar", and Zellweger's "entirely uninteresting", but praises the vocal performance of Martin Scorsese.[28] Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter said the film was not as good as Shrek, but called it "an overly jokey but often quite entertaining spoof that should please families everywhere."[29]

Social commentary[edit]

Shark Tale was criticized for perpetuating negative stereotypes of Italian-Americans in its antagonists.[30][31][32] Politician Bill Pascrell said: "The prevailing message is negative and they have to be held out to dry for it. I'm a very proud Italian-American. When you stereotype me, it's like making fun of my grandparents".[30] Columbus Citizens Foundation issued a statement condemning the stereotyping of people with Italian names as gangsters.[33] Dona De Sanctis, deputy executive director of the Order Sons of Italy in America, said: "We were very concerned about this type of stereotyping being passed on to another generation of children."[30] John Mancini, the founder of the Italic Institute of America, protested the movie, stating: "We're concerned about what preteens are learning from the outside world. They don't associate other groups as criminals, they only know Italians as gangsters. Our goal here is to de-Italianize it."[31] The protest was coordinated by the Italian American One Voice Coalition of New Jersey.[30] DreamWorks reacted by changing the name of Peter Falk's character from Don Brizzi to Don Feinberg. However, Mancini demanded that everything Italian—character names, the mannerisms, the forms of speech—be dropped.[32]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Name Result
Academy Awards[34][35] Best Animated Feature Bill Damaschke Nominated
Annie Awards[36] Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects Scott Cegielski Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation Ken Duncan Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in a Feature Production Carlos Grangel Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Armand Baltazar Nominated
Samuel Michlap Nominated
Pierre-Olivier Vincent Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Writing in a Feature Production Michael J. Wilson and Rob Letterman Nominated
Artios Awards[37] Outstanding Achievement in Animated Voice-Over Feature Casting Leslee Feldman Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Hans Zimmer Won
BET Comedy Awards[38] Best Actor Will Smith Nominated
Best Performance in an Animated Theatrical Film Nominated
British Academy Children's Awards[39] Best Feature Film Nominated
Golden Reel Awards[40] Best Sound Editing in Feature Film – Animated Richard L. Anderson,
Thomas Jones, Wade Wilson,
Mark Binder, Mike Chock,
Ralph Osborn, David Williams,
Mark A. Mangini, and Slamm Andrews
Nominated
Golden Schmoes Awards[41] Best Animated Movie of the Year Nominated
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards[42] Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Will Smith Won
Saturn Awards[43] Best Animated Film Nominated
Teen Choice Awards[44] Choice Movie: Animated/Computer Generated Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards[45][46] Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture Renée Zellweger and Ken Duncan Nominated

Soundtrack[edit]

Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedSeptember 21, 2004
Recorded2004
Genre
Length50:33
Label
Producer
Singles from Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack
  1. "Car Wash (Shark Tale Mix)"
    Released: August 29, 2004
Charts
Chart (2004) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard 200 34
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 48

Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on September 21, 2004. The soundtrack features newly recorded music by various artists, including Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Sean Paul, Timbaland, The Pussycat Dolls, Ludacris, Missy Elliott, and Justin Timberlake, as well as "Some of My Best Friends Are Sharks", the film's closing theme composed by Hans Zimmer.

Janet Jackson and Beyoncé initially planned to record a duet for the film's soundtrack. Jackson's frequent collaborator Jimmy Jam, who had recently worked with Beyoncé for The Fighting Temptations soundtrack, commented, "Obviously we'd love to have the involvement of Janet and Beyonce, who we just worked with on Fighting Temptations. They've already expressed interest", adding "There are a lot of opportunities with an animated piece to work with some different people."[47] Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, had appointed Jackson's producers Jam & Lewis to be involved with the soundtrack, though the duo only ended up producing only one song for the film, with Jam saying "We worked for DreamWorks before on the Bryan Adams song for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and the Boyz II Men tune for The Prince of Egypt, and Katzenberg is a fan of what we do. He thought we would be perfect to do the music for Shark Tale."[47]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Three Little Birds" (Sean Paul and Ziggy Marley)Bob MarleyStephen Marley3:37
2."Car Wash (Shark Tale Mix)" (Christina Aguilera featuring Missy Elliott)Norman Whitfield (additional lyrics by Missy Elliott)Missy Elliott, Ron Fair3:50
3."Good Foot" (Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland)Timberlake, Timothy MosleyTimbaland3:57
4."Secret Love" (JoJo)Samantha Jade, Jared Gosselin, Phillip WhiteWhite, Jared4:00
5."Lies & Rumours" (D12)DeShaun Holton, J. Rotem, Denaun Porter, O. Moore, V. Carlisle, Rufus Johnson, M. ChavarriaDenaun Porter4:20
6."Got to Be Real" (Mary J. Blige featuring Will Smith)David Foster, David Paich & Cheryl LynnAndre Harris, Vidal Davis3:33
7."Can't Wait" (Avant)Damon E. Thomas, Antonio Dixon, Harvey W. Mason, Eric Dawkins, Steven RussellThe Underdogs3:44
8."Gold Digger" (Ludacris featuring Bobby Valentino and Lil' Fate)Alonzo Lee, Shamar Daugherty, Christopher Bridges, Bobby Wilson, Arbie WilsonThe Trak Starz3:47
9."Get It Together" (India.Arie)Drew Ramsey, Shannon Sanders, India.Arie, Dana Johnson, Mel JohnsonIndia.Arie, Sanders, Ramsey4:54
10."We Went as Far as We Felt Like Going" (The Pussycat Dolls)Bob Crewe, Kenny NolanRon Fair3:51
11."Digits" (Fan 3)Allison Lurie, Paul Robb, David Clayton-Thomas, Fred LipsiusBitCrusher3:41
12."Sweet Kind of Life" (Cheryl Lynn)James Harris III, Terry Lewis, Cheryl Lynn, Bobby Ross Avila, Issiah J. Avila, Tony Tolbert, James Q. WrightJimmy Jam and Terry Lewis3:59
13."Some of My Best Friends Are Sharks" (Hans Zimmer)Hans ZimmerHans Zimmer3:25
Total length:50:33

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the film was released on September 29, 2004, for Microsoft Windows, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance.[48] Published by Activision, Edge of Reality developed the console versions of the game, while Vicarious Visions developed the Game Boy Advance version, and Amaze Entertainment developed the Microsoft Windows version.[48] The cast from the film did not reprise their roles in the game, except David P. Smith reprising his role as Crazy Joe.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d "Shark Tale". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
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  4. ^ "Shark Tale (2004)". American Film Institute. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  5. ^ a b LaPorte, Nicole (June 6, 2004). "Inside Move: 'Shark' has local angle". Variety. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  6. ^ "'Shark Tale' adds Britain's Fiona Phillips". UPI. August 9, 2004. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
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External links[edit]