Hollywood hues

Look out for the animated Shark Tale

A scene from Shark Tale
A scene from Shark Tale

Animation films have scaled new heights in recent times. Maybe, it all started with The Little Mermaid and then came The Lion King and Shrek. Now Shark Tale is another delightful story about the great white shark (no, not the Jaws type) and all that goes on "under the sea," which was the theme song in The Little Mermaid.

The action is centred on Oscar (Will Smith), a fast-talking small fish who tells a big lie so that he can become rich and famous. But he doesnít realise that his bluff will be called and get him into trouble. Lenny (Jack Black) is a great white shark with a sensitive side and a secret Öheís vegetarian much to his dad Don Linoís (Robert DeNiro) consternation. Don dotes on his killer shark son Frankie (Michael Imperioli).

Angie (Renee Zellweger) works with Oscar at the whalewash and has a crush on him. She also tells him to forget his plans of becoming rich. "You donít have to live on top of the reef to be a somebody," she implores him. The whalewash is owned by Sykes (Martin Scorsese), a puffer fish who is full of hot air and never misses a chance of making a few extra clams.

And then thereís Lola (Angelina Jolie), the vamp or femme fatale, a cross between a lionfish and a dragonfish who uses her wiles to get what she wants. Remember the old song "whatever Lola wants, Lola gets." How they didnít include it in the film is surprising. Lola targets Oscar when he gets rich. It is 90 minutes of first-rate fun and games which keeps the viewer enthralled. It is an interesting array of characters, made to look like the actors who voice them (so much for technical wizardry), especially Will Smith. There are other minor characters like the two Rastafarian jellyfish with a stinging sense of humour and the Reefís top anchorfish Katie Current (Katie Couric). The fish have their own stars outside the Gauman Chinese cinema and instead of Coca Cola they have Coral Cola.

There are cute innovations like Times Square New York under the sea and other asides. For this the credit must go to scriptwriters Michael J. Wilson and Rob Letterman. And even though there are three directors Vicky Jernson, Bibo Bergerson and Rob Letterman, the action is fluid and the pace racy, an excellent mix of form and content. There may be an underlying philosophy of contentment but it isnít hammered down oneís throats. The plethora of characters keep the narrative going and the music and songs are catchy enough to provide dramatic relief with Got to be Real and Good Foot standing out. The love triangle between Oscar, Angie and Lola is handled with elan and the allís well that ends well in typical fairytale style. A fitting finale to a delightful animation film.

Move over Lion King and Shrek, and make way for Shark Tale.

ó E.E.M