In this animated comedy, Oscar the fish (Will Smith) has dreams of improving his lot in life. Lenny the shark (Jack Black) seeks acceptance by his family for who he is. These two storylines converge when Lenny’s brother Frankie (Michael Imperioli) is killed as a boat anchor is inadvertently dropped on him. Oscar happens to be in the vicinity, and passersby believe that he killed the fierce shark. Seeing an opportunity to gain some acclaim, Oscar accepts the title of “the shark slayer” and is propelled into fame and fortune. Gentle Lenny realizes that with his brother’s death he is expected to take over the family business as a mobster, but he decides against returning home to be something that he is not. He and Oscar forge an alliance and friendship as they spin in spinning a “shark tale” of gigantic proportions. Other voices in the all-star cast are Robert De Niro, Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorsese, Peter Falk and Katie Couric.
As a movie designed to appeal to children, “Shark Tale” has a message that is morally fishy. First, Oscar the fish is an opportunist always looking to attain the easy life the easy way. He struggles with a gambling problem and borrows money from a mobster shark. Second, a great deal of deception occurs throughout this film from falsifying time cards at work to staging a fake death to hide the truth from others. Many will fall for the laughs hook, line and sinker, but “Shark Tale” is somewhat of a moral stinker.
Some Americans of Italian heritage have recently voiced to Dove their objection to “Shark Tale” and gangster stereotypes of Italian Americans for consumption by children.