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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Shark Tale (review)

Bite Me

You guys know how much I love a movie that makes you think, really prompts you to look at the world from a fresh perspective, actually engages the intellect and challenges your perception of life, the universe, and everything.

My brain was in high gear, my sense of wonder quite captivated by lots of things in Shark Tale. Such as:
= Why would a fish open a sushi bar? Isn’t that kinda like a cow opening a burger joint? Is rubbery uncooked tuna really that much cheaper so close to the source that it’s worth a go in spite of the cannibalistic implications?

= Why do fish need to use the elevator to get to the penthouse of an underwater apartment building? Can’t they just swim up? Why do fish need stairs to get from one level of a duplex to the next? Why would a fish live in a duplex underwater penthouse apartment, anyway?

= Why would a fish sit behind a desk? How does a fish sit with no legs? Why do fish even have chairs around the place?

= Why are there fire hydrants underwater? Are there many fire hazards even in fish cities that feature old warehouses and crumbling tenements?

= Why do fish have faces that are simultaneously disturbingly human, freakishly inhuman, and terrifyingly unfishy? Why am I having nightmares about the ending of the original The Fly? Heeeelp meeee… heeeelp meeee….

My perception of life, the universe, and everything has been challenged, all right. Now, when I think about fish, I won’t be salivating over a nice bit of smoked salmon or blackened Cajun catfish — or even of annoyingly perky but still kinda cute and definitely fishlike Nemo — I’ll be waking up screaming, drenched in sweat, at 3:26am, with horrible visions of bobbleheaded fish performing rap songs outdated by a decade, and of sharks that look like stuffed Shamu toys from Seaworld strutting around as caricatures of mobsters.

I say we take the four writers and three directors of this horribly charmless and desperately unfunny movie and dump them in the middle of the ocean, Open Water style, and pretend to forget we left ’em there.

I think it’s intended to be cute and clever, this painfully overly Shrekified undersea realm. There’s nothing but gratutitous fart jokes and ethnic stereotypes, of course — jellyfish are Rastafarians, see, cuz the thing with their bells is like those big hats those dudes wear, laugh already, damn it! I don’t quite get why fish would live like bipedal primates, down to the sushi shops and the penthouse duplex apartments — this is the cinematic equivalent of dressing the dog and the cat up in frilly dresses and making them attend a tea party — but I guess that’s a message of universal something or other. Do we not all use shell phones and drink Coral Cola and watch Katie Current on TV and spout movie catchphrases that have nothing to do, not remotely, with anything going on around us? Stop the extreme punning and the barely disguised product placement, I wanna get off!

And I never, ever want to see creepy human fish head thingies kissing, ever again. Oh dear god, that’s something I didn’t need to witness.


MPAA: rated PG for some mild language and crude humor

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
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