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Western Animation: Shark Tale
Jack Black in a shark costume meets Will Smith in a fish costume.

"And I learned it all from the greatest gangster film ever: Shark Tale."
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

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: the shark mobster who offers to sing the Titanic song.
  • 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.
  • Big Eater: Frankie
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Their apathy also served to underline the insincere friendship of those wealthy, famous fish.
  • The Don: Don Lino
  • Dumb Muscle: Frankie
  • 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. Well, he does owe the guy a lot of money.
  • 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
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    • Bernie call Oscar a "Wiener".
    • An early shark 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!
  • Gentle Giant: Unlike his brother Frankie and his father Don Lino, Lenny is a rather nice guy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Hero: Oscar
  • 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!
  • 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."
  • Jerkass: Ernie, Bernie. Don Lino and Sykes are more questionable.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The Shorties
  • Killed Off for Real: Poor, poor Frankie.
  • Leno Device: Katie 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
  • Mister Big: Sykes
  • The Napoleon: Sykes
  • Nice Guy: Lenny.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Don Lino & Mr. Sykes.
  • Oblivious to Love: Oscar wasn't aware Angie always had a crush on him until she told him herself.
    Oscar: What's gotten into you?
    Angie: ME? I swear I just wanna hit your dummy 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.
  • A Party Also Known as an Orgy
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "SHARKS! Are COMING! To GET ME!"
    • "DON'T. SWALLOW."
  • 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.
  • Terrible Trio: The Gonkish Sykes, Ernie and Bernie.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Ernie and Bernie.
  • Tsundere: Angie
  • 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?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Angie calls out Oscar later in the movie.
  • 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.
  • 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.

The IncrediblesAcademy Award for Best Animated FeatureCorpse Bride
Shrek Forever AfterAll-CGI CartoonMadagascar
Secret SquirrelAnimal Title IndexSidney The Elephant
Shrek 2Creator/Dream Works AnimationMadagascar
Child's PlayFilms of 2000 - 2004 Sharks 3 D
The Secret of NIMHAnimated FilmsShrek

alternative title(s): Shark Tale
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