Shark Tale

Shark Tale is a 2004 American computer-animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by DreamWorks Pictures. Directed by Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron, and Rob Letterman (in Letterman's feature directorial debut), the film contains an ensemble cast starring the voices of Will Smith, Jack Black, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, and Martin Scorsese. It tells the story of a fish named Oscar (Smith) who falsely claims to have killed Frankie (Imperioli), the son of a shark mob boss named Don Lino (De Niro), to advance his community standing and teams up with the mobster's other son Lenny (Black) to keep up the other facade.

Shark Tale
Movie poster Shark Tale.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVicky Jenson
Bibo Bergeron
Rob Letterman
Screenplay byMichael J. Wilson
Rob Letterman
Produced byBill Damaschke
Janet Healy
Allison Lyon Segan
Edited byNick Fletcher
Music byHans Zimmer
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures[2]
DreamWorks Animation[1]
Release date
  • September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10) (Venice)
  • October 1, 2004 (2004-10-01) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$75 million[2]
Box office$374.5 million[2]

Shark Tale premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 10, 2004, and was theatrically released in the United States on October 1. It opened at #1, earning $47.6 million, the second-highest opening for a DreamWorks Animation film at the time, behind Shrek 2 ($108 million). Shark Tale remained as the #1 film in the U.S. and Canada for its second and third weekends, and made $374 million worldwide against its $75 million budget. The film received mixed reviews from critics and generated controversy for its use of Italian-American stereotypes and alleged homosexual propaganda.[4] It was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 77th Academy Awards, but lost to Pixar's The Incredibles.


In the Southside Reef, a lowly bluestreak cleaner wrasse named Oscar fantasizes about being rich and famous. Soon after arriving for work at the Whale Wash, he is called to his boss's office, a pufferfish named Sykes, to discuss the fact that he owes a large sum of money and must pay it back by the next day. He remembers being humiliated as a child because his father was a tongue scrubber, so his angelfish best friend, Angie, offers him a shiny pink pearl that was a gift from her grandmother to pawn and pay his debt. Oscar brings the money to the race track to meet Sykes but hears that the race is rigged and bets it all on a seahorse named "Lucky Day." A lionfish named Lola sees this and flagrantly seduces an excited Oscar. Sykes is annoyed that Oscar bet the money but agrees to see how the race turns out. When the race start, Lucky Day's door had been blocked (revealing that the rigging was against him), but then Lucky Day smashes the door and eventually takes the lead. Moments before Lucky Day crosses the finish line, he trips and loses.

Meanwhile, a family of criminally-inclined sharks, with associates such as orcas, swordfish and octopuses, has a problem with one of their sons, Lenny, a vegetarian. His crime lord father, Don Edward Lino, orders his violent eldest son, Frankie, to mentor his brother in the family business. Frankie sees Oscar left for dead in the middle of the ocean by Sykes' two Jamaican jellyfish henchmen, Ernie and Bernie, and urges Lenny to eat Oscar, but Lenny instead frees Oscar and tells him to escape. Furious, Frankie charges at Oscar, but suddenly an anchor falls on him, killing him. Devastated over his brother's demise, Lenny flees. As there were no other witnesses and Oscar was seen near the body, everyone in the reef comes to believe that he killed Frankie, an opportunity that Oscar decides to exploit for fame.

Oscar returns to the reef with a new title of "Sharkslayer." Sykes becomes his manager and forgives Oscar's debt, and Oscar moves to the "top of the reef" to live in luxury. At the same time, Don Lino has everyone search for Lenny and Oscar. When several sharks approach Oscar's neighborhood, his neighbors expect him to drive them away, so he goes out and encounters Lenny. Since he does not wish to return home and face his father, Lenny begs Oscar to let him stay at Oscar's house since he's aware of his lie. Soon, Angie finds out about Oscar's lie from Lenny and threatens to tell everyone, though the boys convince her to keep quiet. Oscar and Lenny stage an event in which Lenny pretends to terrorize the town, and Oscar kills him. This further cements Oscar's popularity and causes Lola to become his girlfriend while infuriating Don Lino. Afterward, Oscar and Angie get into a heated argument. She reveals that she had feelings for Oscar even before becoming the "Sharkslayer," causing Oscar to dump Lola and reflect on the consequences of his selfishness. Lola then beats Oscar up in anger.

Soon, Oscar buys some gifts for Angie to discover that Don Lino has kidnapped her to stage a meeting. Lenny attends disguised as a dolphin named Sebastian. Don Lino threatens to eat Angie if Oscar does not comply. Lenny grabs Angie into his mouth (for Oscar to intimidate the sharks) but then regurgitates her and unintentionally reveals himself in front of everyone. Enraged, Don Lino chases Oscar through the reef. Oscar heads for the Whale Wash and trapping Don Lino, and accidentally trapping Lenny in the machinery. Everyone gives Oscar an ovation, but he finally confesses the truth behind Frankie's death. He then tells Don Lino that everyone loves Lenny for who he is and urges him to respect everyone's individual choices. Inspired by Oscar's confession, Don Lino reconciles with his son and accepts him for who he is, and states that he and his gang bear the city no ill will. Oscar forsakes all the wealth he has acquired, makes peace with the sharks, becomes co-manager of the Whale Wash, now frequented by sharks, orcas, swordfish and octopuses, and lives happily with Angie.

Voice castEdit

  • Will Smith as Oscar, a comical street wise bluestreak cleaner wrasse who works in the Whale Wash of Reef City who wants to be rich, but his schemes always fail, and he ends up in debt to his boss with five thousand clams.
  • Robert De Niro as Don Lino, a great white shark and leader of a mob consisting of criminally-inclined sharks, who wants his two sons to take over his business and run it together, but becomes enraged when Oscar inadvertently gets in the way following one of his sons' death.
  • Renée Zellweger as Angie, Oscar's angelfish best friend and colleague. Angie eventually becomes Oscar's girlfriend.
  • Jack Black as Lenny, Don Lino's youngest son, a vegetarian, younger brother of Frankie, and becomes good friends with Oscar.
  • Angelina Jolie as Lola, a seductive female lionfish whom Oscar develops a romantic interest in. She only cares about money, calling herself superficial.
  • Martin Scorsese as Sykes, the pufferfish owner of the Whale Wash and a loan shark to whom Oscar owes five thousand clams. He once worked with Don Lino but was fired and called in his debts to pay off the gangster.
  • Ziggy Marley and Doug E. Doug as Ernie and Bernie, two Jamaican jellyfish and Sykes' enforcers, who enjoy torturing Oscar with their painful stingers when he is in trouble with their boss.
  • Michael Imperioli as Frankie, Lenny's older brother and Don Lino's eldest and more vicious son, who is embarrassed by Lenny's vegetarian views. Frankie is killed after an anchor accidentally hits him.
  • Vincent Pastore as Luca, Don Lino's green octopus "left-hand, right-hand man," with a tendency to state the obvious much to Lino's frustration.
  • Peter Falk as Don Feinberg, an elderly leopard shark and leader of a mob of criminally-inclined leopard sharks, who is a friend of Don Lino.
  • Katie Couric as Katie Current, the local reporter of Southside Reef in the U.S. release. At the time, Katie Couric co-hosted Today in America.[5] In the Australian release, then local Today co-host Tracy Grimshaw dubbed the lines.[5] Fiona Phillips of the UK's GMTV performed the voice for the British release of the film.[6] Cristina Parodi of Italy's Verissimo provided the Italian version of the character.[7]
  • David P. Smith as Crazy Joe, a deranged hermit crab who is Oscar's friend. He lives in a dumpster near the Whale Wash.
  • David Soren as Shrimp, a shrimp who fears being eaten by a shark and is an enemy to Don Lino.
  • Bobb'e J. Thompson as Shortie #1
  • Phil LaMarr as Prawn Shop Owner


The film was officially announced in April 2002, under the title of Sharkslayer.[8][9] By September 2003, it had been retitled Shark Tale, to make the title sound less violent and more family friendly.[10][11] Bill Damaschke, the producer of the film, explained the change of the title: "We set out to make a movie a little more noir, perhaps a little darker than where we've landed."[12] Shark Tale is the first all computer-animated film produced at DreamWorks Animation's Glendale facility.[9]

James Gandolfini was initially set to voice the kingpin shark, named Don Lino, but he had to drop out, with Robert De Niro taking over the role.[9][13]

The film was produced concurrently with Finding Nemo, another animated film set underwater, which was released a year and a half before Shark Tale. DreamWorks Animation's CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, defended the film, saying that "any similarities are mere coincidence. We've been open with the Pixar people, so we don't step on each other's toes."[13]


The Piazza San Marco in Venice a day before the film's world premiere, where it was projected on the world's largest inflatable movie screen.

Shark Tale was originally scheduled to be released on November 5, 2004, but was moved up to October 1, 2004 in order to avoid competition with Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles.[14] The film had its worldwide premiere on September 10, 2004 in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.[15] Screening as part of the Venice Film Festival, it marked the first time that Piazza San Marco was closed for a premiere of a major feature film.[15] The film was projected on the largest inflatable screen in the world, measuring more than six stories tall and over 3,900 square feet (360 m2). It required 20,000 cubic feet (570 m3) of air to inflate and more than 50 tons of water for stabilization.[15] The premiere was attended by 6,000 visitors,[16] including Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, and Michael Imperioli.[15] Jeffrey Katzenberg, the executive producer of the film, explained that they "wanted to find a unique way to introduce this movie to the world. We needed a big idea. … More than anything, we are in showbusiness. This is the show part."[16]

Home mediaEdit

Shark Tale was released on DVD and VHS[17] on February 8, 2005, accompanied with a DVD-exclusive animated short film Club Oscar. The three-and-a-half-minute short film continues where the main film ends, showing the characters of Shark Tale dancing at the whale wash to a spoof of Saturday Night Fever.[18] It was also released on Game Boy Advance Video in October 2005.[19] The film was released on Blu-ray on February 5, 2019.[20]

Club OscarEdit

Club Oscar is a five-minute computer-animated film included as a bonus feature on the DVD and VHS releases of Shark Tale and is set after the movie. In the short, the Whale Wash turns into a party club.


Box officeEdit

Shark Tale opened at #1 with $47.6 million, which was, at the time, the second-highest opening for a DreamWorks Animation film behind Shrek 2 ($108 million).[21] It remained the #1 film in the U.S. and Canada for its second and third weekends.[22]

Overall, it grossed $160,861,908 in North America and $213,721,971 internationally, bringing its worldwide total to $374,583,879.[2] That made it the ninth highest-grossing film of 2004.[23]

Critical receptionEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 36% based on 183 reviews, with an average rating of 5.15/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes."[24] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100 based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[25] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[26]

Roger Ebert gave Shark Tale two out of four stars, observing, "Since the target audience for Shark Tale is presumably kids and younger teenagers, how many of them have seen the R-rated Godfather and will get all the inside jokes? Not a few, I suppose, and some of its characters and dialogue have passed into common knowledge. But it's strange that a kid-oriented film would be based on parody of a 1972 gangster movie for adults." He also opined that younger viewers would have trouble enjoying a film about adult characters with adult problems, such as an elaborate love triangle and a main character wanting to clear his debt with loan sharks, and compared it to more successful fish-focused animated features like Pixar Animation Studios' Finding Nemo, which Ebert felt featured a simpler plot that audiences could more easily identify with.[27] Richard Roeper commented that although the film was not on the same level as Finding Nemo, it was a film worth seeing.[28]

Todd McCarthy of Variety was critical of the film's lack of originality: "Overfamiliarity extends to the story, jokes and music, most of which reference popular entertainment of about 30 years ago" noting that the script combines The Godfather and Jaws, with a dash of Car Wash. McCarthy calls Smith's character "tiresomely familiar", and Zellweger's "entirely uninteresting", but praises the vocal performance of Martin Scorcese.[29] Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter said the film was not as good as Shrek, but called it "an overly jokey but often quite entertaining spoof that should please families everywhere."[30]

Social commentaryEdit

Shark Tale has received controversy for perpetuating negative stereotypes of Italian-Americans in its antagonists.[31][32][33] Politician Bill Pascrell said: "The prevailing message is negative and they have to be held out to dry for it. I'm a very proud Italian-American. When you stereotype me, it's like making fun of my grandparents".[31] Dona De Sanctis, deputy executive director of the Order Sons of Italy in America, said: "We were very concerned about this type of stereotyping being passed on to another generation of children."[31] John Mancini, the founder of the Italic Institute of America, protested the movie, stating: "We're concerned about what preteens are learning from the outside world. They don't associate other groups as criminals, they only know Italians as gangsters. Our goal here is to de-Italianize it."[32] The protest was coordinated by the Italian American One Voice Coalition of New Jersey.[31] DreamWorks reacted by changing the name of Peter Falk's character from Don Brizzi to Don Feinberg. However, Mancini demanded that everything Italian—character names, the mannerisms, the forms of speech—be dropped.[33]

The American Family Association, a Christian conservative organization, raised concerns about Shark Tale, suggesting that it was designed to promote the acceptance of gay rights by children.[34]


Award Category Name Result
Academy Awards[35][36] Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Bill Damaschke Nominated
Annie Awards[37] Annie Award for Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production Scott Cegielski Nominated
Annie Award for Best Character Animation in a Feature Production Ken Duncan Nominated
Annie Award for Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Carlos Grangel Nominated
Annie Award for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Armand Baltazar Nominated
Samuel Michlap Nominated
Pierre-Olivier Vincent Nominated
Annie Award for Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production Michael J. Wilson
Rob Letterman
BAFTA Children's Awards[38] Best Feature Film Nominated
BET Comedy Awards[39] Best Performance in an Animated Theatrical Film Will Smith Nominated
Casting Society of America[40] Best Animated Voice-Over Feature Casting Leslee Feldman Won
Golden Reel Awards[41] Best Sound Editing in an Animated Feature Film Richard L. Anderson
Thomas Jones
Wade Wilson
Mark Binder
Mike Chock
Ralph Osborn
David Williams
Mark A. Mangini
Slamm Andrews
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards[42] Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Will Smith Won
Saturn Awards[43] Saturn Award for Best Animated Film Nominated
Visual Effects Society[44] Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture Renée Zellweger
Ken Duncan


Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedSeptember 21, 2004
Singles from Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack
  1. "Car Wash (Shark Tale Mix)"
    Released: August 29, 2004

Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on September 21, 2004. The soundtrack features newly recorded music by various artists, including Mary J. Blige, Sean Paul, Timbaland, Christina Aguilera, JoJo, Ludacris, Missy Elliott, and Justin Timberlake, as well as "Some of My Best Friends are Sharks," the film's closing theme composed by Hans Zimmer.

Janet Jackson and Beyoncé initially planned to record a duet for the film's soundtrack. Jackson's frequent collaborator Jimmy Jam, who had recently worked with Beyoncé for The Fighting Temptations soundtrack, commented, "Obviously we'd love to have the involvement of Janet and Beyonce, who we just worked with on Fighting Temptations. They've already expressed interest", adding "There are a lot of opportunities with an animated piece to work with some different people."[45] Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, had appointed Jackson's producers Jam & Lewis to be involved with the soundtrack, though the duo only ended up producing only one song for the film, with Jam saying "We worked for DreamWorks before on the Bryan Adams song for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and the Boyz II Men tune for The Prince of Egypt, and Katzenberg is a fan of what we do. He thought we would be perfect to do the music for Shark Tale."[45]


Chart (2004) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 34
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 48

Video gameEdit

A video game based on the film was released on September 29, 2004 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance.[46] Published by Activision, Edge of Reality developed the console versions of the game, while Vicarious Visions developed the Game Boy Advance version, and Amaze Entertainment developed the Microsoft Windows version.[46] The cast from the film did not reprise their roles in the game.


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  2. ^ a b c d "Shark Tale". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
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  4. ^ Sam Felder. "Is There Something Fishy About "Shark Tale"?". Americans United.
  5. ^ a b LaPorte, Nicole (June 6, 2004). "Inside Move: 'Shark' has local angle". Variety. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  6. ^ "'Shark Tale' adds Britain's Fiona Phillips". UPI. August 9, 2004. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  7. ^ Ugolini, Chiara (February 18, 2005). "I pesci di 'Shark tale' parlano italiano". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  8. ^ Ball, Ryan (November 3, 2003). "Kim Possible Wins WIN Awards". Animation. Retrieved June 1, 2013. The first annual Kiera Chaplin Limelight award was presented to Vicky Jenson, co-director of DreamWorks' animated blockbuster Shrek and the upcoming Shark Tale (formerly Sharkslayer).
  9. ^ a b c Godfrey, Leigh (April 2, 2002). "DreamWorks Sets Up For Sharkslayer". Animation World Network. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  10. ^ Desowitz, Bill (September 30, 2003). "Sharkslayer Title Changed". Animation World Network. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  11. ^ "Will Smith's Shark Movie Renamed". October 1, 2003. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
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  13. ^ a b Wloszczyna, Susan (January 26, 2003). "DreamWorks hopes audiences hungry for 'Sharkslayer'". USA Today. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  14. ^ Desowitz, Bill (August 19, 2003). "Sharkslayer Rescheduled Now, Renamed Later". Animation World Network. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
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  16. ^ a b "Shark Tale bares teeth at Venice". BBC News. September 11, 2004. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
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  18. ^ Simon, Ben (April 10, 2005). "Shark Tale". Animated Views. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  19. ^ Ball, Ryan (July 25, 2005). "Shrek, Shark Swim to GBA Video". Animation. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  20. ^ "Flushed Away and Shark Tale Heading to Blu-ray (UPDATED)". April 12, 2019. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
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  27. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 1, 2004). "Shark Tale". Chicago Sun-Times.
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  29. ^ McCarthy, Todd (September 12, 2004). "Shark Tale". Variety.
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  31. ^ a b c d Vicki Vasilopoulos (February 29, 2004). "O.K., What About Sharks Is So Italian?". New York Times.
  32. ^ a b "'Shark Tale' Reels In Criticism". CBS News.
  33. ^ a b "'Shark Tale' offensive to Italian Americans?". MSNBC. Associated Press. April 6, 2004. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  34. ^ Berkowitz, Bill (April 19, 2007). "Still Cranky After All These Years". Media Transparency. Archived from the original on December 23, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011. In 2004, the AFA went after the movie 'Shark Tale,' because the group believed the movie was designed to brainwash children into accepting gay rights.
  35. ^ ""The Incredibles" Wins Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film". Toon Zone. February 27, 2005. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
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  44. ^ McNary, Dave (January 10, 2005). "Spidey pic catches 6 f/x noms from VES". Variety. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
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External linksEdit