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Western Animation / Shark Tale

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Michael: Well, what do you know about being a mob boss?
Homer: Everything! And I learned it all from the greatest gangster film ever: Shark Tale!
The Simpsons, "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer"

Shark Tale is a 2004 movie produced by DreamWorks Animation with 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, Renée Zellweger and even director Martin Scorsese. Every character in the movie looks like a fish version of the actor voicing them.

This mafia movie, set in the world of saltwater fish, is the story of what happens when Frankie, one of the sons of shark crime boss Don Lino (De Niro) 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 basically what The Godfather would be, if there were talking fish and Will Smith.

Previews: Trailer #1, Trailer #2, Trailer #3

Shark Tale provides examples of the following tropes:

  • '70s Hair: Oscar's father is shown as having an enormous orange afro with a pick in it in a flashback, despite being a fish. Later pictures show him with sideburns.
  • Accidental Celebrity: Workaday drudge Oscar runs up a debt to the shark mob, and Frankie pursues him to collect either cash or blood. Purely by chance, an anchor falls on Frankie, killing him. Oscar is hailed as "The Sharkslayer" that dared to oppose the shark mafia, but he's really a Fake Ultimate Hero.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • When Oscar shouts "You had me at hello!" on TV, Angie is seen grinning. Renée Zellweger, who voiced Angie, made the quote famous in Jerry Maguire.
    • Speaking of Renée Zellweger, earlier in the film, Angie is seen writing her innermost thoughts about her and Oscar. Hmmmm, sound familiar?
    • Also, lines such as De Niro's character Don Lino saying, "I heard things" plus a conversation between the De Niro character and the Scorsese character (Sykes) spoof their infamous repeat the same lines back at one another.
    • Oscar asks Lenny if his father Lino is "the Godfather or something". Robert De Niro played Vito Corleone as a young man in the second Godfather movie.
    • The crowd even shouts "Oscar Bumaye!" the same where a crowd shouts "Ali Bumaye!" to Muhammad Ali (Will Smith plays Ali in his 2001 Biopic).
    • Oscar's "Pants" are big like Will Smith's clothes were before in his older works.
    • Ira Feinberg played by Peter Falk mentions his wife at one point.
    • When Lenny asks Oscar if it’s him, Oscar sarcastically says, "No, it’s Pinocchio!" Funny enough, Will Smith actually voiced Pinocchio in an episode of Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.
  • Against the Grain: Lenny is a shark, and expected to be carnivorous, mean and masculine. But Lenny is a vegetarian, and when he tells his Dad he's met with judgement and scorn. Lenny is expected to hunt and eat a fish, or disappoint his father. This is when he meets Oscar, who also wishes to escape living in a Hive Mind.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Not exactly a villain, but Frankie counts, seeing how sad Lenny felt when he died.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Oscar takes a range of unethical things to fuel his ambition of being famous.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Don Feinberg, the elderly leopard shark mobster who offers to sing the Titanic song.
    Other sharks: Oh, please no! Not again!
  • An Aesop: The grass is always greener on the other side, fame isn't worth the high expectations and loneliness.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: A really heartbreaking example.
    Oscar: NOBODY loved me when I was a nobody—
    Angie: I DID!
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Oscar gives one to Don Lino at the end about Lenny.
    Oscar: What is your problem? So, your son likes kelp. So, his best friend's a fish. So, he likes to dress like a dolphin. So what? Everybody loves him just the way he is. Why can't you?
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • After faking his own death, Lenny pretends to be a dolphin named "Sebastian" so that he can live as a vegetarian in peace. The problem is that dolphins, like sharks, are carnivores.
    • Many of the bigger shark species, like the great whites and great hammerheads seen in the film, are typically solitary creatures. Smaller and medium-sized species like grey reef sharks and scalloped hammerheads are far more social. Granted, great whites don't live in groups, but recent studies have shown they have a far more complex social structure than previously thought and enjoy the company of others of their kind every once in a while.
    • Lenny's expected to eat positively tiny prey like shrimp and cleanerfish. Since Lenny's clearly meant to be the equivalent of an older teenager or young adult, he should have outgrown a diet of such animals some time ago and switched to larger, meatier prey like tuna, seals and sea turtles.
    • Although killer whales (orcas) are featured as associates of the Shark mob, they are actually predators of sharks.
    • Contrary to what this movie claims, great white sharks are warm-blooded, not cold-blooded. On the other hand, maybe that's why Frankie slapped his brother and called him a "moron" on his deathbed.
    • Sperm whales don't get "serviced" by cleaner fish. Ironically, sharks (not great whites, but smaller species like reef and gray nurse/sand tiger sharks) do.
    • Also, sperm whales only have teeth in their lower jaws.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Let's just say that gravity is very weird in this world. Sometimes light and buoyant objects sink, while heavy objects float. When (the) Seal shows up at the start of the film, he falls straight down onto the pavement and makes an audible slapping noise, not muffled by the water in the slightest.
  • Ass in a Lion Skin: Lenny the shark passes himself off as Sebastian the Dolphin.
  • Becoming the Mask: Subverted. Just as Oscar traps Don Lino at the Whale Wash, thus finally defeating a shark for real, that's when he tells the truth.
  • Betty and Veronica: Angie as the Betty and Lola as the Veronica over Oscar's Archie.
  • Big Bad: Don Lino, the leader of the shark gang, who wants to get revenge on Oscar because he mistakenly believes that he killed his son Frankie.
  • Big "NO!": When an anchor lands on Frankie, Lenny screams "No!" as his brother lets out his last breath.
  • 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.
  • Blunt "Yes": Blunt "Yeah" in Lenny's case when Oscar asks if his dad is "the Godfather or somethin'".
  • 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:
    • Two during the climax
      • The Headphone Guy who Oscar attempts to save from a whale's indigestion at the Whale Wash later reappears to put an air freshener on Lino.
      • The shrimp that Lino unsuccessfully tries to get Lenny to eat ends up being returning near the climax, where he and his friends attack Lino while the shark's stuck in a porthole.
    • The Shorties end up spray-painting Crazy Joe's shell, though the crab actually likes the new design and suggests they do it for a living. As seen during the Dance Party Ending, they took up that offer.
  • Broken Aesop: The film tries to have an aesop about honesty and appreciating what you have rather than chasing material wealth. Oscar certainly claims to have learned this lesson, but you can't deny the direct and indirect benefits. His fake persona even helps him defeat a shark for real. According to the movie, lying makes sure:
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Luca is this to Don Lino. He comes across as an idiot and a Minion with an F in Evil for most of the film, but one time he really comes across as bad is when he lets Oscar know the sharks have kidnapped Angie.
  • Butt-Monkey: Oscar at first, although some of it is self-inflicted. He works in a dead-end job and wants to be rich and famous, but lacks the means to do so. He also owes a lot of money to Sykes, he gets painfully stung in the eye by Ernie and Bernie, and when he impulsively bets the money he has to owe Sykes, the horse he bets on loses and he gets punished by being tied up and stung repeatedly by Ernie and Bernie. He tries to avert this by lying about killing Frankie and becoming the Shark Slayer. He also gets easily beaten up by Lola.
  • Captain Obvious: Luca gets this gem after Lenny is unmasked during the sit-down:
    Luca: Hey boss, it's Lenny! He was wearing a disguise so we wouldn't recognise him, but now he's not wearing the disguise, so we do recognise him!
  • Carnivore Confusion: 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.
  • Caught Monologuing: A heroic Nice Job Breaking It, Hero example. At the sit-down, Oscar orders Lenny to pretend to eat Angie, removing Don Lino's leverage and leaving him firmly in control of the situation. Having gotten the sharks to agree to his terms, Oscar could have left and everything would have been fine, but he simply couldn't stop running his mouth. Result: Lenny is unable to keep Angie in his mouth any longer and throws her up, blowing his cover and enraging Don Lino enough to attack.
  • 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 Whale Wash's whale restraints are initially used to stop a whale from squirming after it gets soap in its eye, and are later used as part of Oscar's plan to trap Don Lino. This ends up trapping Lenny instead, so Oscar uses the Whale Wash's other mechanisms to do the job.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The shrimp. Don Lino kept coercing Lenny to eat him, but Lenny instead frees him. The shrimp is gleeful to be spared and then gives a Death Glare towards Don Lino with an "I'll get ya!" fist expression. He makes good on that promise when he shows up again near the end of the movie and sics an army of his friends on Don while his head is stuck through a porthole.
  • Co-Dragons: Ernie and Bernie are this to Sykes.
  • Concept Art Gallery: The original DVD contains a gallery featuring concept art for characters, settings, and props seen in the movie.
  • The Consigliere: Subverted with Luca (the octopus); you'd expect he'd fall in this role, but in fact, he's very stupid.
  • Creative Closing Credits/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.
  • Dance Party Ending: As per the norm for a DreamWorks Animation movie, Shark Tale ends with everyone dancing in the whale wash.
  • 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.
  • Devious Dolphins: One of the mob families that associates with Don Lino is made up of orcas. Later, after Oscar disguises Lenny as a dolphin and brings him to a sitdown with Lino and the other families as "muscle", one of the mobsters nervously mentions how his uncle "got whacked by one of those" (meaning by a dolphin).
  • Didn't Think This Through: Oscar clearly didn't think of the possibility that Frankie's family would find out about his death and come after him for it, thinking him responsible. Cue an Oh, Crap! when he does realize it.
    Angie: What do you expect? You take credit for killing a shark and everything will be fine and dandy for the rest of your life?
    Oscar: ...yeah.
  • The Ditz:
  • 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?"
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet: At the seahorse race where Oscar bet five grand, Lucky Day first struggles to even enter but suddenly gains a huge edge over all the other seahorses. Oscar and Sykes dance together singing "Movin' on Up" until suddenly Lucky Day trips and falls from running too fast and falters right next to the finish line while all the other seahorses come in. Guess how they react.
  • Dope Slap: Frankie to his brother Lenny. It's even 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 —" (SLAP!) 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 and Don Feinberg, though the latter gets much less notice in the story.
  • Dramatic Wind: Parodied when Oscar shows up to his staged battle against Lenny wearing a cape that billows dramatically in the wind — and then gets blown over his head, forcing him to remove it.
  • The Dreaded: Don Lino, logically, since everyone fears sharks and he's the boss of all sharks. Sykes can barely keep a cool head when they talk face to face (and he's someone who does not hesitate to throw his weight around in the presence of normal fish) and even Lino's own sons — despite their mutual love — fear incurring his wrath.
  • Dumb Muscle: Frankie is a killing machine but doesn't have much brainpower. To be specific, it's not that he's stupid, just bullheaded and prone to rushing in without a plan. Lino points this out to a disbelieving Sykes to explain why Lenny would be a good head of the reef.
    Lino: Long story short. From now on, you work for Frankie and 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.
  • Ear Fins: Every character that is a fish is shown to have fins where ears would be on a human.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Oscar doesn't exactly hold the fact that Sykes ordered him murdered against him, even going so far as to let Sykes and the would-be killers Ernie and Bernie profit off of his new image.
    • Oscar also doesn't mind entering a relationship with Lola even though she called him a "nobody" earlier in the film and continues to be her boyfriend even while she is constantly belittling and abusing him. Justified in both this and the above case, as he's probably too busy enjoying his new clout to hold any grudges.
    • Also, everyone forgives Oscar easily for lying about being the Shark Slayer.
  • Electric Jellyfish: Ernie and Bernie.
  • Electric Torture: When Oscar asks what'll happen if he doesn't pay back the money he owes Sykes, Ernie and Bernie demonstrate by zapping him in the eye. When his gamble at the seahorse race doesn't pay off, they made good on the threat, tying him up and zapping him repeatedly, with the implication that he will eventually be tortured to death.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lenny, Oscar, Angie and Lola all get one.
    • Oscar is introduced in a Bait-and-Switch moment where it looks like he's hanging out in a fancy apartment, but it turns out to be just a billboard. His first scene with Angie also reveals him working on another get-rich-quick scheme, both illustrating how much he wants a piece of the good life.
    • Lenny is introduced rescuing the worm from the fishing line and then being picked on by Frankie.
    • Angie is introduced with her papers showing her secret love for Oscar, then covering it up when Oscar appears, as well as how she punched Oscar in before he arrived at work.
    • Lola is introduced to the song "Gold Digger", turning around with a suggestive look on her face after Oscar makes an impulsive bet at the track that, in the 200-to-1 chance of it winning, would earn him a million clams.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Oscar decides to save Angie from the mob, Lenny lets it slip out to Sykes that Oscar is a phony. Sykes is horrified to discover this (earlier in the movie, Sykes joyfully told Lino, the head shark, to shut up), and begs Oscar to say he is a real Sharkslayer. Oscar admits he isn't, then realizes that the sharks don't know he's a fraud and gets the idea to keep up his charade long enough to rescue Angie.
    Sykes: Tell me you didn't make the whole thing up! T-T-Tell me that's not Lenny! Tell me you're a real Sharkslayer! PLEASE!
    Oscar: I'm sorry, Sykes, I'm not. [Beat] ...but the sharks don't know that.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A major theme of the story. Frankie may be a violent mobster and a generally unpleasant person, but his death upsets not just his family, but the entire shark community. Driven home when, just before reaching his Rage Breaking Point, Don Lino asks Oscar, "What did I ever do to you?" in a genuinely heartbroken tone, unable to comprehend why Oscar would do something as personal as seemingly killing both his sons.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The sharks and Lola are clearly shocked when Oscar pulls his fake Shoot the Hostage move.
  • 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).
  • Eye Scream:
    • One unfortunate whale in the Whale Wash gets a blast of soap shot directly into his eye. Though he's in great pain and the affected eye is shown to be bloodshot, Oscar wipes it away afterwards and the whale's no worse for wear.
    • Oscar gets stung in the eye by Ernie and Bernie. He is stuck with a black eye for a decent amount of time afterwards.
    • After Frankie's death, Oscar starts doing martial arts moves and noises as Ernie and Bernie sneak up behind him. Unaware of their presence, Oscar accidentally hits one of them in the eye, leading to a Reactive Continuous Scream.
  • 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. Ironic considering Oscar appears to be the physically weakest character in the film, appearing to be weaker than the female fish characters.
  • Father, I Don't Want to Fight: The plot's conflict is kicked off as a result of Don Lino being unable to accept that his son Lenny is a vegetarian and doesn't want to eat fish. This prods him into sending Frankie to teach Lenny how to "be a real shark", eventually leading to Frankie's death-by-anchor.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: What starts off as Oscar taking credit for Frankie's death eventually snowballs into the shark mafia out for him after seemingly killing Lenny.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Coral Cola and Gup, anyone? Don't forget the Kelpy Kreme, Old Wavy, and Fish King. And Katie Current.
  • Finger-Forced Smile: Oscar tries to force Angie to smile with this. It doesn't work, and Angie rebuffs him as she is hurt from seeing him being kissed by Lola earlier.
  • Floating in a Bubble: Angie gets stuck in a bubble during the climax at the Whale Wash. Oscar simply pops it to get her out.
  • Forceful Kiss: Lola swims up to the cameras and gives Oscar one of these. Though he is surprised at first, Oscar quickly enjoys and returns the kiss, but Lola keeps him pinned under her the entire time to be in control of their make-out.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The spray painting the Shorties do on the billboard at the beginning. The shark looks like Don Lino.
    • Oscar's Establishing Character Moment shows him appearing to hang out in a fancy pad, but it's only a billboard. This sets up his lie of being the Sharkslayer and actually obtaining a fancy pad in the process.
  • Freudian Excuse: Oscar's desire to be rich and famous comes from his childhood back when his classmates mocked him over his father's job.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you pause the movie at certain points, you can read the hilarious headlines on the magazines. One particular magazine has an article on "OJ Shrimpson" and smoking seaweed.
  • Furry Confusion: Don Lino the shark keeps a tank of piranhas as his pets. Exactly why piranhas are considered pets despite every other species of fish in the movie being fully sapient (including predatory fish like the sharks themselves) goes unexplained.
    • In the opening, a talking clam tries to give a pearl to a Prawn Shop owner. Later on, Angie gives her grandmother’s pearl to Oscar inside a clam that is not sapient at all.
  • 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.
  • Gentle Giant: Lenny is a rather nice guy. Frankie & Lino have few shades of this as well (mostly towards each other).
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Oscar has apparently borrowed money from Sykes numerous times for different money-making schemes. The money never gets paid back when the schemes inevitably fail, leading Oscar to eventually owe Sykes a whopping 5,000 clams by the time the movie takes place.
  • 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 in front of the cameras, causing Angie to leave in jealousy, anger, and sadness. When Angie confesses Oscar her love for him, Oscar rethinks his feelings and dumps Lola—which unfortunately, leads to her great fury as she mercilessly slams him against the windows. Lola crosses the line even further as she then arranges Don Lino to kidnap Angie, even gleefully threatening her life if Oscar doesn't comply.''
  • Greater-Scope Villain: While Don Lino is truly the most dangerous shark Oscar faces, he still cares about his sons and softens up by the end of the movie. Lola, on the other hand...
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Angie becomes this when she sees Lola kissing Oscar. Lola turns into this as well when she finds out that Oscar has feelings for Angie, which results in Lola beating him up.
  • Grossout Fakeout: Oscar thinks the whale he's washing is about to throw up from acid reflux (even though acid reflux doesn't cause vomiting), but she just burps instead.
  • HA HA HA—No: After discovering Oscar lied about being the sharkslayer and is now hiding Lenny, a shark, from the public eye, Angie tells him to tell the truth and Lenny to go home. Since those options would result in Oscar getting into a lot of trouble and Lenny is currently under self-imposed exile, the two just laugh at her.
  • Hand Puppet Mockery: After Lola turns Oscar down for being a nobody, the jellyfish Ernie and Bernie mock him with hot dogs on a stick with condiment faces.
  • 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.
  • Honesty Aesop: A fish named Oscar wants to be famous due to being bullied for being "a nobody". When Frankie the shark dies, Oscar lies that he killed him and becomes famous for being a "shark slayer". The moral is that lying isn't worth being famous.
  • 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 into eating a shrimp, the shrimp starts crying that he has a family, then goes on to describe his nephew 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)
    • As it turns out, the shrimp wasn't bluffing: the baby makes and appearance when the shrimp and his friends attack Don Lino when he's stuck in a porthole.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Despite knowing that Oscar is an impulsive charlatan with a history of falling for get-rich-quick schemes, Sykes arranges for him to deliver the money he owes by meeting him at the race track. Unsurprisingly, Oscar can't resist the temptation to bet all the money he owes Sykes on a horse, and loses it as a result.
    • The film's plot revolves around the entire reef believing that Oscar was somehow able to kill a shark several times his size, despite there being no evidence other than him being found at the scene and his obviously exaggerated retelling of the event. Even Sykes and Angie, both of whom know all too well that Oscar is a compulsive liar who is desperate for attention and has no combat skills to speak of, are completely convinced by his deception until they discover the truth just by chance.
  • Idiot Hero: Oscar fits this perfectly. As Angie lampshades, he really thought he could take the credit for killing a shark and the other sharks wouldn't want to take revenge.
  • Ignored Epiphany: A humorous example from Lino 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 GONNA GET YOU!
  • 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 slaps Lenny) Ow.
    Frankie: Moron. (dies)
  • Informed Species: The sharks look more like killer whales (aka. orcas), although orcas are featured in the film.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • The film has been noted for going a bit too far with this. In Doug Walker's review of the film, he even names them "Will Smith Fish, Jack Black Shark, Renée Zellweger Fish, etc." rather than simply calling them by their actual names in the film.
      Doug: 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.
    • Angelina Jolie played a seductive temptress.
  • 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."
  • Jacob and Esau: Frankie and Lenny apparently have a bit of this going on with their parents. Frankie (a gruff, macho predator) clearly takes after his father, Don Lino, in terms of his personality. The sharks' mother only appears briefly at Frankie's funeral, but Lenny's claim that "Mom said it's not okay to hit!" coupled with Frankie's response ("Mom's not here.") implies that she usually takes Lenny's side in arguments, and Lenny's effeminate, kindhearted demeanor marks him as a stereotypical mama's boy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • 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, genuinely cares for his sons, and upon Oscar admitting the truth to him, he apologizes to Lenny and reforms.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Lola, who has betrayed Oscar and set up the sit-down after she ordered the sharks to get Angie.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The kids in young Oscar's show-and-tell disaster flashback are far worse than the Shorties, because they cruelly mocked him for admiring his father being a tongue-scrubber.
  • Killed Off for Real: Poor, poor Frankie.
  • Kiss Diss: At the end of Oscar and Lola's first meeting, after Lola finds out Oscar isn't actually rich despite his huge bet, she continues to flirt with him for a moment, calling him cute and pulling him in close as if to kiss him, with Oscar even closing his eyes and puckering up in anticipation. As their lips are inches apart though, she whispers to him that he's a nobody before pushing him away and swimming off.
  • Leno Device: Katie Current, "keeping it current".
    • Though the role of Katie Current was recast to more prominent female news anchors in the UK and Australia: the UK release has Fiona Phillips doing the voice while the Australian release uses Tracy Grimshaw. So in the UK version she's... Fiona Fishchips. And in Australia she's Tracy Clamshaw.
  • Liar Revealed: Much of the drama relates to characters finding out that Oscar is not the Shark Slayer. He himself reveals the lie just after he manages to defeat one of the sharks for real.
  • Lighter and Softer: Early drafts of the film were rather intense and edgy and was rewritten to become more lighthearted.
  • 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.
  • Love Doodles: Angie doodles her love for Oscar in her Establishing Character Moment.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Lola, who wanted revenge on Oscar for calling it quits.
  • Love Interest vs. Lust Interest: Angie and Lola to Oscar, respectively. Angie is Oscar's best friend who has been in love with him even back when he was a nobody, while Lola is an opportunistic Gold Digger who only starts showing interest in him when he starts gaining fame and fortune as the Shark Slayer. Once Oscar realizes this, he dumps Lola and gets together with Angie at the end of the film.
  • Lying Heroes, Honest Villains: Deconstructed. Oscar pretends to have killed two sharks in order to boost his social status. Don Lino, the sharks' father, makes it fully clear that he intends to get revenge on the Sharkslayer. And Lola doesn't bother to hide the fact that she's a Gold Digger.
  • The Mafia: It is a seaworthy parody of the mafia with the mafia being portrayed as sharks.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • When Oscar tries to do a secret finshake with Sykes:
    Oscar: Snap your fin, Sykes! You're not snappin' it!
    Sykes: Oscar!
    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.
      [[spoiler: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.
  • Metal Muncher: The Great White Sharks are all shown to be Extreme Omnivores with part of their diet being metallic items, and since Lenny is a 'vegetarian shark' that's pretty much all he eats. There is some Truth in Television to this as while sharks don't actually need to consume them, such objects do have a tendency of ending up in their stomach.
  • 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.
  • Mister Big: Sykes is in charge of the Whale Wash, but he is shorter than Oscar and his jellyfish goons. He does get bigger whenever he puffs himself up though.
  • Money Dumb: Oscar is shown throughout the first half of the film to be incredibly irresponsible with his money. Even before the film's events, it's said that he's gotten several "advance payments" from Sykes that he's spent on get-rich-quick schemes, all of which have failed, putting him in debt to Sykes for five thousand clams. When Angie gives him her treasured family heirloom in order to get the money he needs, Oscar ends up betting it on a horse race and loses all of it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Oscar gets one when Angie gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, after her Anguished Declaration of Love. He gets another one when he learns from Luca his actions have gotten Angie kidnapped.
  • Nice Guy: Lenny, who is the most caring of the sharks.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Don Lino and Mr. Sykes.
  • No-Respect Guy: Oscar's main motivation. He doesn't seem to get much respect at the wash, and seems to get himself into unwanted situations. In his youth, he admired his dad Earl's work at the Wash so much he decided to bring it to school for show and tell, only for the class to cruelly mock him. This tragic disaster causes him consider himself a loser and a "nobody." Since then, Oscar believes that in order to get the respect he yearns for, he has to become rich and famous. He finds his chance when the shark chasing him is killed by a fallen anchor, and takes the credit becoming known as the "Sharkslayer." Oscar soon lets his great white lie go into his head and make him rich, not noticing or appreciating what he already had, until Angie blurts out her crush and genuine respect for him, leading Oscar to his Character Development.
  • 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, sometimes I just wanna take your big dumb dummy head and... (angrily pounds her fin in her fist repeatedly)
  • Obsolete Occupation: One of the places in the city that the movie briefly focuses on is a sushi restaurant that doesn't get any customers since most of the citizens are fish.
  • 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.
    • He then gets another one later when he realises Lola is furious at him for dumping her for Angie.
    • Sykes gets one when he finally uncovers Oscar's lie, particularly after he had previously yelled at Lino over the phone to shut up. Oops.
  • Only One Name: Pretty much every named character.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Don Lino's firstborn son, Frankie, dies to an anchor (though he spends most of the film believing Oscar killed him). Even worse, he also thinks the 'Sharkslayer' killed Lenny as well until he accidentally reveals himself at the sit-down.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Don Lino is an honorable don and Oscar is an unlikable fish.
  • Poor Communication Kills: One of the major conflicts of the movie (Angie's unrequited crush on Oscar and jealousy of Lola) only comes about because Angie goes out of her way to hide her feelings from Oscar, seemingly expecting him to figure it out by himself despite knowing him for years and presumably being well-aware of his stupidity.
  • Product Placement: The film shamelessly promotes large brands such as Krispy Kreme, Coca Cola and GAP in aquatic themed versions known as Kelpy Kreme, Coral Cola and GUP. Even the movie's title when it appeared on-screen was smothered by product placement.
  • Proscenium Reveal: Oscar introduces himself to the viewer in what appears to be an apartment until it's revealed to be a billboard ad.
  • Protection in Mouth: While attending a hostage negotiation with the Shark Mafia for Oscar's love interest Angie, Oscar pretends not to care and plays up his tough image by having Lenny the Shark (disguised as a dolphin) "eat" Angie, possibly inspired by Lenny's earlier near-swallowing of him. Unfortunately, Oscar stays too long to gloat, and it suddenly becomes relevant again that Lenny can't stand the taste of fish when he spews her out onto the table from where he hid her in his cheeks.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "SHARKS! ARE COMING! TO GET ME!"
    • "DON'T. SWALLOW."
  • Rags to Riches: And then back to rags again.
  • Reactive Continuous Scream: Ernie, Bernie and Oscar do this twice in one scene.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: While critics and audiences derided Ernie and Bernie's Jamaican accents, they are actually closer to the real thing than most people expect. The voice actors are real Jamaicans, after all (one of them is even the son of Bob Marley).
  • "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. But 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, while Angie weeps.)
  • Red Herring: After a whale goes berserk in the Whale Wash due to some soap in the eye, Oscar activates a "CRAB" restraint system to keep him in place until he wipes the soap off. While being chased by Don Lino into the Whale Wash in the climax, he activates the "CRAB" system again...only to find out he caught Lenny by accident. Oscar has to resort using all the brushes in the facility to hold Don Lino in place instead.
  • Running Gag: The movie has several recurring gags:
    • Crazy Joe the hermit crab and his random antics;
    • The Shorties and their vandalism mischief;
    • The Orca whale who constantly faints.
    • Lola constantly abusing Oscar throughout the film.
    • Lola taking charge of her relationship with Oscar as she is the one wearing the pants in their relationship.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • Ernie and Bernie when they see Lenny heading towards them while Oscar is still tied up.
    • Oscar tries to hide behind Lola when he hears that a shark has entered the reef.
  • Seahorse Steed: A seahorse race pays a pivotal role in the film's opening act.
  • Self-Serving Memory: At one point, Oscar contemplates betting Angie's pearl on a rigged seahorse race instead of using it to pay off Sykes' debt and tries to remember what she said on the night she gave it to him. However, while the real Angie told him to pay off his debt, flashback Angie's words are distorted to the point where she outright tells Oscar to "bet it all".
  • 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.
  • Shown Their Work: Oscar is a bluestreak cleaner wrasse who works at a whale wash. This is actually perfectly accurate to his species; they actually do work at at underwater "cleaning stations", where various larger sea creatures (including whales) come to get the bacteria in their mouths and gills cleaned via cleaner wrasse and other fish going into their mouths and eating it.
  • Slow "NO!": Oscar does this when he sees Lucky Day tripping and losing the race.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Oscar overhears two random fish discussing how the seahorse race is rigged and mention having their sights set on Lucky Day. These fish are never seen again, yet they manage to make Oscar convince himself that betting 5,000 clams on Lucky Day will pay off in his favor. He thought wrong.
  • 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 realize that Oscar is lying. He comes up with the successful 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.
  • Smooch of Victory: After Oscar and Lenny's stunt in town, Lola rewards Oscar with a sudden kiss. Though it is less passionate than most examples and more forceful and is actually a stunt for the cameras to establish herself as Oscar's girlfriend.
  • The Stinger: Partway 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • At one point, there's a subtle blink-and-you-miss it moment where Luca pours out some tea to Don Lino. Due to the entire film being set underwater, the tea instantly disperses into the surrounding water around them, showing that the Water Is Air trope is not in effect in this universe.
    • Oscar overhears that the seahorse race is rigged for Lucky Day, seemingly making him a guaranteed win and prompting Oscar to bet the entire five grand on him. The race being rigged by outside forces doesn’t prevent random chance from interfering or the horse itself from making mistakes, as Lucky Day trips in the final stretch and comes in last place.
  • Terrible Trio: The Gonkish Sykes, Ernie and Bernie.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: When Oscar wages (and loses) the $5,000 he needed to pay a debt he owes Sykes, Sykes tells Ernie and Bernie to find the deepest hole in the ocean, dig it deeper, and then bury Oscar there.
  • Tiger by the Tail: Oscar's getting famous off Frankie's death spirals into the population wanting him to fight more sharks despite his lack of actual fighting ability, which then spirals into Oscar having to help Lenny fake his death so the latter doesn't tip him off to Don Lino, which leads to Lino kidnapping Angie in revenge for both his sons' deaths. Angie tries to get him to reveal the truth, but Oscar laughs her off since doing so would not only result in him losing all of his fame, but also likely result in him getting eaten by the sharks, who wouldn't be afraid of him anymore.
  • Too Many Babies: In the opening, Katie Current mentions an upcoming interview on how a mother with 800 babies manages her lifestyle. The mother can be seen on a TV screen getting frustrated with all the crying fingerlings surrounding her.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Angie's pearl, which she got from her implied-to-be-deceased grandmother, is given to Oscar to help him pay off his debt. Oscar then proceeds to blow the money on a rigged horse race, though he does return the pearl to her with interest after becoming famous.
  • Truth in Television: Some sharks really do eat vegetation. Granted, none of them are great whites.
  • Trunk Shot: A variation of this occurs when Oscar is tied up and thrown in a whale mouth that Ernie and Bernie close.
  • Trying Not to Cry: Lenny tries his best to retain his emotions after after Frankie’s death, but erupts into tears once the thought comes up again.
  • Tsundere: Angie.
    Angie: I swear, sometimes I wanna take your big dumb dummy head and just... (pounds her fin in her fist repeatedly, growling angrish)
  • The Un-Favourite: Don Lino shows hints of this towards Lenny because of his eating habits and the fact that Lenny doesn't want to be the new head of the reef.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Angie. Becomes victorious in the end.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Oscar does one during the climax after narrowly escaping Lino, who just ends up stuck in the whale washing contraptions.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: She's dangerous. Super-bad. Better watch out or she'll take your cash. She's a Gold Digger.
  • "Wash Me" Graffiti: Some whales at the whale wash have graffiti covering their bodies, including one whale with this sprayed on him.
  • Water Is Air:
    • Lampshaded when a race seahorse Oscar had bet on trips before the finish line.
      Oscar: 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...
    • When (the) Seal falls onto the pavement, he's not slowed down by the water at all and his landing makes an audible slapping noise.
  • 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?: Angie calls out Oscar for being selfish and discarding her feelings.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: To the fish population of the Reef, Lenny, a shark, is scary as one, but cuddly and safe when he disguises himself as a dolphin (just so we're clear, dolphins eat fish too, but they're cute! ...but 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, which 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...
  • Who's on First?: When Sykes makes an accidental Stealth Insult about Lenny, Lino questions what he's on about and this happens.
    Lino: I bring you in here, look you in the eye, tell you what's what, and what?
    Sykes: What?
    Lino: What, "what"?
    Sykes: What nothin', you said, "What", first.
    Lino: I didn't say "What" first. I asked you, "What?"
    Sykes: No, you said, "And then what?" and I said, "What?"
    Lino: No, I said, "What what?" Like what what!
    Sykes: (Beat) You said, "What" first.
    Lino: Now you're makin' fun of me?!
    Sykes: No, no, no, no, no, you misunderstood.
  • With Catlike Tread: Lenny's attempt to be stealthy results in him tumbling down the street in what was presumably supposed to be a cartwheel, making a ridiculous amount of noise in the process.
  • Woman Scorned: Lola. As soon as she realised Oscar was dumping her for Angie, she gave him a really scary Death Glare and slammed him against the windows repeatedly, before kidnapping Angie and threatening her life.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: See the Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male example above. Lola attacks Oscar, and he never attempts to fight back, or may even be too weak to defend himself from her attacks.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Ernie and Bernie, the two Electric Jellyfishes, make fishbones flash whenever they shock a fish with their tentacles.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: When Oscar bets 5,000 clams on Lucky Day to win the race so he can be rich and famous, Lucky Day comes very close to winning until he trips near the finish line, causing Oscar to be punished for his impulsiveness.

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


Shark Tale

Stop! Oscar Time!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / HappyDance

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