Dir. Vicky Jensen, Bibo Bergeron, Rob Letterman; writ. David Soren and others; feat. the voices of Will Smith, Robert de Niro, Renée Zellweger, Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorcese, Ziggy Marley, Doug E. Doug, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore, Peter Falk, Katie Couric (PG-13)
A cautionary Godfather for 21st-century American pop culture, Shark Tale swims into the heart of rap and teaches the good-natured, charming schemer Oscar (Smith) a lesson: Don't sell your soul for the gold. Underlying Oscar's frustrations is a moment of truth: His father (sporting a righteous 'fro and sideburns) labored for decades at the Whale Wash - where Oscar, following in his finsteps, is now the lead tongue-scrubber - with nothing to show for it but a plaque. Now his son is frustrated because he sees the shiny pads at the top of the reef but no honest, hard-working way to get there. To make matters worse, it's the age of celebrity, so rich alone really isn't good enough; you've got to get that 15 minutes on Oprah, too. He's 5,000 clams into his small-time-hood boss, whose henchmen, a pair of entertaining Rasta-jellyfish, are itching to teach him a lesson.
Enter Lenny (Black), a vegetarian shark and reluctant heir to the reef's mafioso, played with warm-fuzzy menace by de Niro. Lenny is our stand-in for the gay son, a point adult audience members will get long before the very funny dolphin-drag scenes but which children will read simply as, "love your children for who they are."
The plot, which involves accidental death, a staged disappearance, a gold-digging femme fatale named Lola (Jolie), and a kidnapped sweetheart, is as fresh as last week's catch, but DreamWorks animation brings the well-known actors to life as ocean denizens (well, let's just admit that Zellweger makes a great fish-face). The only fish who falls flat is Lola. Jolie has positioned herself as our new dark anti-heroine, a role Hollywood seems eager to revive, setting her up with blonde, goody-two-shoes foils Zellweger and Gwyneth Paltrow (in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow). But Jolie has never had the depth to carry it off. Maybe DreamWorks could talk to Charlotte Rampling next time around. — Elaine Wolff
Texas Superhero and Sci-Fi Collectors Expo
Just can't get enough of Hellboy on the page or screen? Better get your "lightning band" for the Halloween Spectacular, October 9-10 at the Holiday Inn Select. Ron Perlman, who played Hellboy for Hollywood, and Star Wars' Taun We (aka Rena Owen) will make appearances, and when you're not busy angling for an autograph, you can shop for comics and collectibles from hundreds of vendors. Admission is $7/day, or $10 and $15 for all-weekend passes. A little more cash gets you into a private dinner for 30 with "Celebrities." For more info, call 512-396-2845, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurel and Hardy: The Flying Deuces
Dir. A. Edward Sutherland; writ. Ralph Spence, Charles Rogers, Alfred Schiller, Harry Langdon; feat. Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Jean Parker, Reginald Gardiner (NR)
It all begins with a broken heart, but Stan and Ollie soon find themselves in front of a firing squad for deserting the Foreign Legion in this madcap 1939 farce.
Flying Deuces screens at dusk Thursday, October 7 as part of the series "In the Public Domain" on the Slab across from La Tuna Icehouse, Probandt and Cevallos. Admission is free.
Fronterilandia, a "whimsical, border-hopping neo documentary" by Ruben Ortiz-Torres and Jesse Lerner, who traveled thousands of miles documenting the strange permutations of Mexican pop culture, is the second screening in Just Add Pictures: Collage Essay Films and Videos, a three-part series curated by San Antonio- and Los Angeles-based filmmaker Jim Mendiola. A Mexican Beatles tribute band, a Tijuana performance artist, and a sculptor who produces pre-Colombian fakes for the black market come together in a film that "challenges traditional notions of history, identity, and the US/Mexico border."
Fronterilandia screens at 6:30pm Thursday, October 14 at ArtPace, 445 N. Main. Admission is free. For more information, call 212-4900.