Australian Council on Children and the Media

Shark Tale

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Short takes

Too scary for under 5

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Shark Tale
  • a review of Shark Tale completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 19 September 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the scariness in this movie, children under 8 might need some parental guidance to view this movie.
Children aged 8-13 Most children over 8 should be okay to see this film, depending on the parentu2019s interpretation of the level of scariness.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 will be fine to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Shark Tale
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Oscar is a little fish in a very big pond. He works at the local Turtle Wax Whale Wash where his friend Angie works as a receptionist, but he longs to scale to greater heights and become a somebody living at the top of the reef. Oscar is in a lot of financial trouble, as he owes his boss puffer fish Sykes 5000 clams. When Sykes makes intimidating threats to Oscar that he must pay up, Oscar tells all his woes to his friend Angie. Unselfishly Angie gives Oscar her grandmother’s pearl to repay the debt but Oscar squanders it on an ‘absolute winner’ at the races.

Meanwhile Don Lino, the Boss of the Great White Sharks, is raising his sons Frankie and Lenny to take over the family business. However Lino is greatly embarrassed by Lenny who is ‘different’ to other sharks as he’s a vegetarian and refuses to kill for his food. Lino sends Frankie out to teach Lenny the ropes and the victim becomes unsuspecting Oscar. Lenny pretends to eat Oscar but when it’s obvious that he hasn’t Frankie comes in for the kill. At this point Oscar’s luck is dramatically turned around as Frankie is killed by a falling anchor.

Oscar becomes known as ‘the Shark Slayer’ and Protector of the Ocean. He plays this for all it is worth, becoming very famous and rising to the top of the social ladder. There he meets Lola, a seductive female fish who lures him away from Angie. Oscar is of course totally unaware that Angie loves him as a ‘nobody’ and falls for Lola. Things become complicated for Oscar when Don Lino vows vengeance for Frankie’s death and sends the ‘mob’ to find and destroy the ‘Shark Slayer’. Oscar befriends Lenny who has run away and together they learn a few lessons about life and have some important decisions to make.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie some set in a comic context:

  • Oscar and Lenny fight in a game and Lenny pretends to swallow Oscar
  • Lenny pretends to swallow Angie.

Other violence includes:

  • Frankie kicks Sykes, flattening him onto a wall
  • Ernie and Bernie, jellyfish brothers, beat up Oscar under Sykes’ orders
  • Ernie and Bernie tie Oscar up in seaweed, gag his mouth and put electric shocks through him.
  • The anchor lands on Frankie, killing him.
  • Lenny pretends to die in the game
  • Lola beats up Oscar because he doesn’t love her.
  • The ‘mob’ kidnap Angie, tie her up and gag her.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children under the age of five could be scared by the above-mentioned violence, particularly the death of Frankie. The following scenes may also disturb some children in this age group:

  • Some of the sea creatures are quite scary looking, particularly an octopus with an alien’s head and the hammerhead sharks.
  • Frankie and Lenny look very fierce and scary when they are chasing Oscar.
  • Sykes puffs up really large with pointy spikes.
  • When some fish are cleaning a whale’s teeth, the whale burps causing an enormous eruption like an earthquake.
  • Oscar is shown with a black eye after being beaten up
  • Don Lino tells his sons ‘when they see something, they kill it, they eat it’.
  • The sharks hold a funeral for Frankie whom they let out of a coffin, wrapped in cloth.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children aged eight to thirteen would probably not be scared by this movie as they would understand that it is fantasy. However they could still be scared by Frankie being killed by the anchor.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children over the age of thirteen would not be scared by this movie.

Product placement

There is a large sign for Coral Cola which at a quick glance would be mistaken for the Coca Cola logo.

Sexual references

There are no sexual references. However, Lenny being a vegetarian and his father’s disgrace at that, is an obvious parallel with a parent’s possible attitude towards a gay son.

Nudity and sexual activity

There’s no nudity or sexual activity

Use of substances

There is no use of substances in this movie.

Coarse language

There is no coarse language in this movie.

In a nutshell

The take home message of this movie is that life at the top isn’t all that it appears.

Values parents may wish to encourage include selflessness, friendship and loyalty.

The following content could be used by parents to discuss with their children what their own family’s values are, and what the real life consequences can be of some actions and attitudes:

  • stereotyping of characters particularly of females being receptionists, seductresses and of Italians belonging to the ‘mob’.
  • gambling
  • lying
  • deceit
  • taking credit for something falsely to get attention.

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