Shark Tale (2004)

dir. Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron, Rob Letterman

As an animated underwater adventure with talking fish, Shark Tale was very obviously DreamWorks’ attempt at Finding Nemo. Yet to draw any further comparison between the two would be insulting to Pixar’s masterful craft. Where Finding Nemo is magnificently animated with immersive seascapes and compellingly lively characters, Shark Tale is so hideous to look at that it frequently hurts. The textures are all wrong, with the fish generally looking like they’re made of suede, whilst the character’s designs are goofy and overwrought to the point of being downright unnerving. Finding Nemo has an emotionally charged story, mixed with gentle humour and perilous stakes; Shark Tale has a squeaky Jack Black shark moaning that he wants to be vegetarian while a Will Smith fish dances around and makes contrived pop culture references. Undersea car washes and graffiti and glasses of wine, coupled with the lazy animation of a few bubbles here and there, constantly prod the audience to observe that there’s no way this story could be taking place underwater. The lazy Italian-American stereotyping and Rastafarian caricatures help Shark Tale to culminate in an overall experience which is simply uncomfortable.

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