Review Date: September 27, 2004
Director: Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson, Rob Letterman
Writer: Rob Letterman, Damian Shannon, Mark Swift, Michael Wilson
Producers: Bill Damaschke, Janet Healy, Allison Segan
Will Smith as Oscar
Jack Black as Lenny
Robert DeNiro as Don Lino
A hip fish named Oscar finds himself in hot water as his $5000 debt to loan "sharks" lands him with a one-way ticket into a Filet-O-Fish. Luckily for him, a troubled shark accidentally saves his butt, only to result in the death of his less troubled, tougher shark brother. And as one thing leads to another, the hip fish becomes known as the "Shark Slayer", but not without a price on his head by the loan sharks and their connected "family". An 80-minute romp ensues.
Entertaining. At the end of the day, the reason that I go to see many of the films that I do, day in and day out, week in and week out, is because I want to be entertained. Ballet doesn't do it for me. Watching a play doesn't generally get my shit going and even though an opera can be fun at times (if you're really drunk and hanging out with a babe), at the end of the day, I watch movies to smile, to laugh and to be transported inside another world for an hour and a bit and to forget all about the bills that I have to pay when I get home (that's until I get home and well...the drinking begins!). And with that pre-amble out of the way, allow me to say that this film entertained me from start to finish, had me chuckling along many of its jokes, loving its vivid and glorious neon "look", diggin' its many colorful characters and even respecting its two-bit "message" about accepting one for who there are, etc... And if you don't see the correlation between this film's message and the gay outings sweeping the nation, you're blind, son! I personally enjoyed this film more than I did FINDING NEMO because it played things less safe, felt a tad more mature and seemed to have a lot more pop-culture references, in-jokes and adult humor. In fact, there were plenty that I seemed to have missed, as both my movie partner and I discussed them afterwards (tons of movie homages too...don't blink or you'll miss the GOODFELLAS "What am I a clown to you?" joke near the end or the clever nudge at Renee Zellweger's character from JERRY MAGUIRE in another). That said, and unlike NEMO, I'm sure this film won't have the re-watch or long-term value of that movie, since it does rely a little too heavily on what's "in" today, with seemingly every pop-culture reference left unturned (does anybody still think the "What's up?!?" thing is funny though?) and way too much reliance on today's hip-hop influences - felt like it was tested for target audiences and tweaked, as opposed to the filmmakers' vision alone.
I kinda felt the same way about this movie as I did after SHREK 2, which was "Wow, that was truly entertaining!", but having watched that film a second time, I can't say that I felt the same way on the second go-around. As opposed to Pixar's supreme engine of animated creations, Dreamworks seems to be relying a little too much on what's "hip" now and even though I was entertained by this film, I don't think it will become a classic anytime soon. That said, I can't complete my review without mentioning the excellent jobs done by all of the voice actors here (many of whom were well incorporated into their characters' looks as well), particularly Will Smith, who was perfect as the lead (although if you hated him before this movie, you'll likely hate him even more afterwards), Robert De Niro, who does yet another excellent parody of the mafia character he does so well (aaaaah, the Italians are really gonna "adore" this guy after this), as well as Jack Black as the goofy Lenny shark. In fact, many of the characters were quite memorable, including the quirky Martin Scorsese as the fast-talking blowfish, the very groovy Rasta jellyfish, who I want to purchase as dolls and smoke up with, and the adorable shrimp, who despite sounding exactly like the Gingerbread Man from the SHREK films (yeah, I watch too many movies), stole its scenes. The ladies weren't as prominent here, and I definitely could have done without the lame "girl singers" showing up to sell the film's soundtrack in its final scene, but overall, I really enjoyed myself watching this movie, loved its look and feel, had fun with its story and characters, and wasn't terribly bothered by its over dependence on product placement (they made jokes out of many of them). Which reminds me of that Sushi shop that was doing little business in the reef...funny stuff. Also, if you stay tuned during the film's end credits, you'll be served with a few more jokes.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian