Western Animation: Shark Tale

"Behind every little fish, is a great white lie..."

Shark Tale, a 2004 movie produced by DreamWorks Animation has probably the biggest ensemble cast in an animated Dreamworks movie (although Kung Fu Panda is close). Starring Will Smith, Jack Black, Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger and even director Martin Scorsese. Every character in the movie looks worryingly like the actor voicing them.

This mafia movie, set in the world of saltwater fish, is the story of what happens when the son of the shark boss (De Niro) of a fish crime family is killed by a dropped anchor, and a bottom-feeder named Oscar (Smith) is found at the scene of the crime. Hoping to win favor with the enemies of the ganglord, the fast-talking hustler poses as the killer known as the "sharkslayer", but soon learns it's a dangerous game in a world where the big fish generally eat the little fish...

It's how The Godfather would be, if there were fish and Will Smith.

Shark Tale provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Not exactly a villain, but Frankie counts, seeing how sad Lenny felt when he died.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude
  • Ambiguously Gay: Lenny. He talks in a high voice. His confession of being a vegetarian is very similar to that one of being gay. Just read the "Does This Remind You Of Anything" below.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Don Feinberg, the elderly leopard shark mobster who offers to sing the Titanic song.
    Other sharks: Oh please no! Not again!
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: A really heartbreaking example.
    Oscar: Nobody loved me when I was a nobody—
    Angie: I DID!
  • Ass in a Lion Skin: Lenny the shark passes himself off as Sebastian the Dolphin.
  • Betty and Veronica: Angie as the Betty and Lola as the Veronica.
  • Big Bad: Don Lino.
    • The true big bad is actually Lola, who wanted revenge on Oscar calling it quits. Lino was just a sympathetic grump who genuinely cared for his sons.
  • Big Eater: Frankie, to Lino's delight.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Lenny and Oscar.
  • Big "NO!": When an anchor lands on Frankie, Lenny screams this just before he tosses the anchor aside like a cottonball.
    • Oscar does the slo-mo kind when he sees Lucky tripping and losing the race.
  • Billed Above The Title: The poster says it all. So did all the commercials, which did everything they could to make it seem as if the whole thing was just an excuse to have all the biggest superstars of the early 2000s (and Martin Scorsese) appear in a movie together.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lola.
  • Book Ends: The film begins with the worm on the hook that Lenny frees. Then as Oscar and Angie dance on the Whale Wash sign, the little worm appears again and winks before we cut to the closing credits
  • Brick Joke/Running Gag: to name a few;
    • the Headphone Guy
    • Crazy Joe the hermit Crab
    • The Shorties & their vandalism mischief
    • The shrimp that Lino unsuccessfully gets Lenny to eat
    • the Orca whale who constantly faints
  • Captain Obvious: Luca
  • Carnivore Confusion
    • Lenny the Shark, a principled vegetarian who refuses to devour sapient creatures, and an embarrassment to his father, makes an unsuccessful attempt to eat a sobbing shrimp who begs for his life.
    • Also, in the second scene, which shows off the city, we have a brief look at a sushi bar. There is not a single customer, to the owner's frustration. Guess why.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Angie is seen in her first scene with a sheet of paper showing how much she loves Oscar but hides it when he enters. Oscar later finds it after he is told she has been kidnapped, to show how much he means to her and her love for him is sincere.
  • The Consigliere: Subverted with Luca (the octopus); you'd expect he'd fall in this role, but in fact he's very stupid.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: If Sykes hadn't asked Oscar to bring the money he owed to the track, events would have progressed quite differently.
  • Credits Montage:
    • First we see frames of the Characters that freeze with their voice actors' names appearing; Then still frames of the movie itself.
    • the mid-credit Stinger explained a bit further down
    • as the end credits roll, Crazy Joe interacts with the audience with some priceless ramblings:
      • "Hey! you gonna eat the rest of your popcorn?! Bleah, too much butter...Hey, a nacho! (crunch)"
      • "What?! You see this guy?! **taps crew member name* he hardly worked on the movie at all! Always on the phone yakkin' yakkin' yakkin'!"
      • "You guys heard what's playin' next door? Stinky!
    • The rolling credits end with a That's All, Folks! from Mrs. Sanchez the old weaver fish telling the audience to go home because ''it's past your bedtime!" She slams her window closed and we cut to the DreamWorks Animation logo
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lots of the characters do this. Oscar, Angie, Lenny, Sykes, and Lino.
    Angie: Oscar, instead of getting in Mr. Sykes' face with another one of your get-rich-quick schemes, go do something you're actually good at: your job. Which, by some miracle, you still have.
  • Death Glare:
    • Sykes does one at the track after Lucky Day trips and loses the race.
    • Lola gives a rather frightening and sudden one to Oscar before slamming him against the windows after he dumps her..
  • The Ditz
    • Ernie & Bernie
    • Luca
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Lenny. He's vegetarian, wishes to be a dolphin and tries to hide this secret to his family. Don't forget the speech Oscar makes after he's trapped Lenny and Don Lino in the whale wash: "What is your problem? So, your son likes kelp. So, his best friend is a fish. So he likes to dress like a dolphin, so what?! Everybody loves him, just the way he is. Why can't you?"
  • Dope Slap: Frankie to his brother Lenny. It's the last thing he does before dying.
    Lenny: Hey! Mom said it's not OK to hit!
    Frankie (slaps Lenny again) Mom's not here!
    • Oscar also does this to Lenny when sneaking him into the warehouse
    Oscar: Alright Lenny, follow my every move and don't make a sound.
    Lenny: You got it. Oh an echo. [a little louder] Echoooo! "Now batting for the Southside Sharks #15—
    Lenny: OW! It's not OK to hit!
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Lampshaded for comedy. No one seems to mind Lola beating the ever-loving crap out of Oscar, even though she does it in front of at least 20-30 people.
    Sykes: Ha! Young love! (He and the other partygoers laugh)
    • Their apathy also served to underline the insincere friendship of those wealthy, famous fish.
  • The Don: Don Lino
  • Dumb Muscle: Frankie, he's a killing machine but doesn't have much brainpower.
    • This is also Lino's reason to a disbelieving Sykes of why Lenny would be of good head of the reef
    Lino: Long story short. From now on, you work for Frankie & Lenny. Capiche?
    (Sykes bursts out laughing)
    Sykes: Lenny? Lenny?! Frankie, I understand, but Lenny? You can't possibly be serious!
    Lino: I'm dead serious. It takes more than muscle to run things. Now Lenny, he's got the brains. That's somethin' special.''
  • Easily Forgiven: Oscar doesn't exactly hold the fact that Sykes ordered him murdered against him, even going so far as to let Sykes profit off of his new image.
  • Electric Jellyfish: Ernie and Bernie.
  • Extreme Omnivore: When Lenny spits out Angie he also throws up a variety of junk. A violin, a beachball, a license plate (which another shark discretely eats).
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Oscar is hailed as a "shark slayer" (the film's original title) after the shark chasing him is killed by a wayward anchor and he takes all the credit.
  • The Family for the Whole Family
  • Father, I Don't Want To Fight
  • Fawlty Towers Plot
  • Fictional Counterpart
    • Coral Cola and Gup, anyone?
    • Don't forget the Kelpy Kreme
    • And the Gup.
    • And Katie Current
  • Forceful Kiss: Lola swims up to the cameras and gives Oscar one of these, causing Angie to leave in anger, sadness, and jealousy.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The spray painting the Shorties do on the billboard at the beginning. The shark looks like Don Lino.
  • Gasshole: Don Feinberg, during Frankie's funeral, when he tells Lino he has some news, he farts, and a big green bubble pops under the orca behind him, who faints. Lino then gets up from his chair and decides to talk with Feinberg by the window.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    • Bernie call Oscar a "Wiener".
    • Giuseppe the hammerhead tells Lino where Frankie is going when he dies.
    • A line from a whale at the Whale Wash:
    Whale: Also, it's mating season. And I'm feeling lucky!
    • When Lola reveals herself at the sit-down, the sharks swoon at her to which one remarks "Marone if I wasn't married..."
    • Oscar states to Angie that he "wants some of that" (the good life), not realizing he's pointing at old Mrs. Sanchez (looking frumpy). When Angie asks if he was talking about that woman, Oscar quickly says no..
  • Gentle Giant: Unlike his brother Frankie and his father Don Lino, Lenny is a rather nice guy.
    • Actually, Frankie & Lino have few shades of this as well.
  • Gold Digger: Lola. In her first scene, she even calls herself superficial! Also the name of the song by Ludacris and Bobby Valentino featured in her introduction.
    • She also forcefully kisses Oscar infront of the cameras, causing Angie to leave in jealousy, anger, and sadness.
    • When Angie confesses Oscar her love, Oscar rethinks his feelings and dumps Lola—which unfortunately, leads to her great fury as she mercilessly slams him against the windows. Lola then crosses the Moral Event Horizon by arranging Don Lino to kidnap Angie in demand of Oscar's obedience, even gleefully threatening Angie's life in order to do so.
    Lola: You know, Sharkslayer, there's only one thing I like better than money: Revenge!

  • Heel-Face Turn: Sykes becomes decent enough throughout the progression of the movie that it warrants him getting a happy ending too. If he hadn't improved, it would have taken away from how dangerous Don Lino is.
    • Not to mention Don Lino himself at the end..
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Unlike most sharks, Lenny is actually a vegetarian and is also pretty friendly since he doesn't want to hurt other fish. That doesn't stop the fish from being scared of him though.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The entire movie is full of them. The crew calls these parodies "fishi-fied"
  • I Have a Family: When Lino Tries to pressure Lenny to eating a shrimp. The shrimp starts by crying that he has a family, then goes on to describe each and every one of his kids in excruciating detail as Lenny and Lino argue.
    Shrimp: It's true, it's true! And the other thing is, my sister had a baby and I took it over after she passed away and the baby lost all its legs and arms and now it's just a stump but I take care of it with my wife and... and it's growing and it's fairly happy... and it's difficult because I'm working a second shift at the factory to put food on the table but all the love that I see in that little guy's face it makes it worth it in the end. True story
    (cue Lenny sobbing silently and wiping his tears)
  • Idiot Hero: Oscar fits this perfectly!
  • Ignored Epiphany: a humorous example from Lino due to upon seeing Lenny in a dolphin disguise
    Lino: What did I ever do to you?! You took Frankie away, and you turned Lenny into a dolphin!
    (his sadness quickly turns to fury)
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...:
    Frankie: (dying) Lenny, is that you?
    Lenny: I'm here, Frankie.
    Frankie: Come closer.
    Lenny: What is it, Frankie?
    Frankie: I'm so cold.
    Lenny: That's because we're cold-blooded.
    Frankie: (Frankie slaps Lenny) Moron. (dies)
    • Which is hilariously misleading, when you consider that Great Whites are among the few shark species which actually are ''warm-blooded''. Then again, maybe that's why Frankie called him a moron.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: And how!
    • The film has been criticized for taking this method a bit too far. In The Nostalgia Critic's review of the film NC even calls the characters "Will Smith-fish, Jack Black-Shark, Renee Zellweger/Fish, etc." instead of their actual names.
      Nostalgia Critic: You don't see these characters as actual characters. You just see the celebrities representing them...
    • Will Smith channeled his inner Fresh Prince for Oscar.
    • Robert De Niro played an Italian godfather, his first mobster since the Godfather trilogy.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Robert De Niro to Martin Scorsese.
    "We've worked together for a real long time."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Oscar, Sykes, Lino
    • Sykes comes off as a really nasty Loan Shark at first, but later he and Angie see Oscar kissing Lola on TV, and it looks like he was aware of her feelings for him, since he looks deeply sympathetic. He's willing to go even shares with Oscar, and while he's certainly more concerned with business, puts up with a lot from Oscar considering how frustrating he must be.
    • Don Lino while grumpy and short tempered, clearly just genuinely cared for his sons and upon Oscar admitting the truth to him, he apologized to Lenny and the Don reformed.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Lola
  • Kids Are Cruel: The Shorties
    • The Shorties are not actually cruel (in fact, they're quite friendly); they're just extremely mischievous and love spraying graffiti.
    • The kids in young Oscar's show and tell disaster flashback are far worse than the Shorties, because cruelly mocked him for admiring his father being a tongue scrubber.
  • Killed Off for Real: Poor, poor Frankie.
  • Leno Device: Katie Current "keeping it current"
  • Logo Joke: The boy from DreamWorks Animation casts his line and the action switches to the worm at the end, which segues into the movie proper.
  • The Mafia
  • Meaningful Echo: When Oscar tries to do a secret finshake with Sykes
    Oscar:,Snap your fin Sykes! You're not snappin' it!
    Oscar:Oh hey don't sweat it Sykes, a lot of white fish can't do it."
    • at the end, Sykes does it to Lino
      Sykes: "Snap it! You're not snappin it?"
      Lino : I'm snappin' it I'm snappin it!"
      Sykes : "It's alright. A lot of great whites can't do it, yo
      Lino : Yo?
      Sykes: "Yo, what's up?"
      Lino: "Up with what?
      Sykes: Yo, yo yo yo yo...
      Lino[annoyed]: Hey! You say "yo" one more time, and I'm gonna yo you!
      Sykes: Sorry.
  • Missing Mom: Subverted: The only time we see Don Lino's wife is when she's sobbing on her husband's shoulder over Frankie's death. So, she's not missing, she just doesn't have much of a role.
    • According to some fanfic, her name is Kathleen.
  • Mister Big: Sykes
  • The Napoleon: Sykes
  • Nice Guy: Lenny.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Don Lino & Mr. Sykes.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Lola, to the point where she mercilessly whacks Oscar against the windows when he dumps her for Angie
    • Lola then arranges the sharks to kidnap Angie in demand of Oscar's obedience, even threatening Angie's life in order to do so
    Lola: You know, Sharkslayer, there's only one thing i like better than money: Revenge!
  • Oblivious to Love: Oscar wasn't aware Angie always had a crush on him until she outright told him herself.
    Oscar: What's gotten into you?
    Angie: ME? I swear I just wanna hit your big dumb dummy head!
  • Oh, Crap: Oscar gets this when Angie finds out about his lie. He also gets a big one when he learns that Frankie is the son of Don Lino.
    • Sykes gets one when he finally uncovers Oscar's lie, particularly after, he had previously yelled at Lino over the phone to shut up.
  • A Party Also Known as an Orgy
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "SHARKS! Are COMING! To GET ME!"
    • "DON'T. SWALLOW."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Angie gives a very crushing one to Oscar.
    Angie: Just tell me Oscar, 'cause I'm curious. Why do you think Lola's interested, huh? Do you honestly think, for one minute, that she'd even be with you if you weren't the rich and famous Sharkslayer?! Are you that blind?
    Oscar: At least she treats me like I'm somebody!
    Angie: Yeah, but would she love you if you were nobody?!
    Angie: I DID! (Oscar stares at her speechless; Angie turns away) Before the money...and before the fame...before the lie. To me you were a somebody Oscar. Now you're nothing...but a fake. A sham. A con. You're a joke.
    (Oscar is deeply hurt by her words)
    Oscar: Angie I—
    Angie (on the verge of tears): No, forget it! Just go! I'm tired of hearing how everything you had in your life wasn't good enough—including me.
    (Oscar lowers his head in despair and sadly swims out of the warehouse)
  • Redemption Equals Death: After being fatally crushed by the anchor, Frankie seemed to redeem himself before he drew out his last breath.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Oscar attempts to fake this when the Sharks kidnap his girlfriend by having his "dolphin" partner pretend to eat her right on the spot (he grabs her in his mouth, but doesn't swallow) on his order to show that he didn't care. Fails as the "dolphin" is Lenny the vegetarian shark, who is repulsed by the simple taste of fish. He spits her out along with the contents of his various lunches.
  • Shout-Out: It wouldn't be a Dreamworks movie without many of them.
    • The most obvious and numerous are to Jaws. This film's music is even described as their "theme song" by Frankie.
    • Lenny's name is probably inspired by Lennie Small of Of Mice and Men. There's even a short "And Call Him George" moment with Oscar.
    • Crazy Joe watches The Benny Hill Show inside his shell.
    • To the movie Car Wash, of all things.
    • Possibly accidental, but the movie bears some distinct resemblance to Dragonheart, in which a knight and a dragon ends up in a stalemate during a fight and decides to cooperate. They do this by faking battles with each other in front of awestruck villagers that the dragon pretends to attack, where he at the end of the battle pretends to die.
  • The Smart Guy: Lenny. You think at first it's just wishful thinking on Don Lino's part, but Lenny is pretty sharp. He's the first to realise that Oscar is lying. He thinks up a plan to fake his own death. He disguises himself as a dolphin so well that he attends a sit-down with his own father and isn't recognised. He even skilfully blackmails Oscar into taking him - a shark - home. When he talks all smooth and "God forbid somebody should find out the truth", you remember that yeah, he may look all cute and vegetarian, but he's still the son of a Mafia Shark - and he knows the tricks of the trade.
  • The Stinger:Part of the way through the credits, the image changes to the empty penthouse apartment and Lola enters (unaware that Oscar isn't there), hoping Oscar will take her back and saying he'd have to be crazy not to, only to find Crazy Joe there.
  • Terrible Trio: The Gonkish Sykes, Ernie and Bernie.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Ernie and Bernie.
  • Tsundere: Angie
    Angie: I swear sometimes i wanna take your big dumb...dummy head and just (pounds her fin in her fist) GRRNA!
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Oscar
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Angie. Became victorious in the end.
  • Water Is Air: Lampshaded when a race seahorse Oscar had bet on trips before the finish line.
    Oscar: He trips underwater? Now who in the halibut trips underwater? And, by the way... on what?
    • Also The Shorties are seen swimming around a hydrant, They unscrew it and bubbles flow out! This begs the question of what that underwater hydrant is supposed to be used for.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Did Lola ever find out about Oscar's lie? News seems to pass by quickly in the reef. Even if she did find out about Oscar's lie, she's still humiliated by being stuck with Crazy Joe. Will she still cause Oscar trouble?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: See Reason you Suck speech example above
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: To the fish population of the Reef, Lenny the Shark is scary as a shark, but cuddly and safe when he disguises himself as a dolphin. Just so we're clear, dolphins eat fish too, but they're cute! (This led to a few reviewers reading a stronger metaphor in it...) Funny thing, is, the movie actually uses this, when Oscar tries to subvert I Have Your Wife by having Lenny fake eating his girlfriend. The "attack" appears to be just as quick and almost as savage as... well, a shark attack.
    • That becomes rather clever on Lenny's part when you realize that dolphins have different fins than sharks and he would have to move quickly and frighteningly to keep the focus away from his traitorous body parts.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The movie wears some distinct resemblence to 1996's Dragonheart, a movie about a knight and a dragon who ends up in a stalemate during a fight and decides to cooperate, to which they do by faking battles in front of awestruck villagers that the dragon pretends to attack, with the knight pretending to kill the dragon at the end...
  • X-Ray Sparks: Ernie and Bernie, the two Electric Jellyfishes, make fishbones flash whenever they shock a fish with their tentacles.

Mrs. Sanchez: "What're you still doin' here? Get outta here! Go home! It's past your bedtime!