Published Oct 01, 2004In 1998, there was a battle between two movie studios using animated insects. Dreamworks was the first to attack with the star-studded Antz, a film visually attractive to children yet inappropriately featuring a sophisticated story that only connects with the adults. Disney's Pixar retaliated only a month later with A Bug's Life, an endearing family-oriented box office hit that focused more on building a compelling story than using a beefed up cast to do all the work. Unsurprisingly, the alleged "copycat" won the war.
The tables were turned last year when Pixar released the original and exceptional Finding Nemo, an underwater adventure that proved to be as popular with adults as it was with children. Now it's Dreamworks' turn to get revenge. But with more than a year having passed, is it really worth it to spend so much money in order to pump something out that is so viciously blatant?
Shark Tale is not another Finding Nemo, both Dreamworks and Pixar will agree on that. Instead, it is a story about talking fish in the sea who must overcome an obstacle. Again, the studio has roped in big names (Will Smith, Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Robert DeNiro, Renee Zellwegger) and again they've put that ahead of hiring competent screenwriters to create an enjoyable story for the audiences that flock to see these films: families.
It's hard to deny that this film isn't flashy and eye-catching. However, it relies on creating a world similar to ours, where fish shop at the Gup and Katie Current presents the news. And while some things might be humorous at first, Shark Tale loses out to the innocent charm Nemo brought to the table by keeping it simple. The tale is a divided one that follows a fish named Oscar (Smith), who wants to be rich and famous and Lenny (Black), an ambiguously gay shark who can't succumb to the shark's role as apex predator. Their paths meet when Oscar is to be whacked for his debts and the rest, well, is rather boring.
Dreamworks has produced another predictable animated film that fails with its drive to compete instead of create something new. While the company may have had success with Shrek, Dreamworks' films lack the originality and overall delight Pixar consistently delivers. Save your time and money and wait for Pixar's upcoming The Incredibles, which will no doubt be up there with Toy Story and Monsters Inc. when the results from the box office receipts and audience smiles are counted. (Dreamworks/Universal)