The first salvo in the battle of the would-be autumn family blockbusters has been fired by Dreamworks. Beating The Incredibles to the screen by more than a month, Shark Tale represents the fourth digitally animated feature to come from the studio (following Antz, Shrek, and Shrek 2). Over the past few years, animation companies (Dreamworks and Pixar, in particular) have worked to refine a formula for digital animation. It's a lot like Disney's defunct conventional one: make the story simple but add some adult shadings; use a talented voice cast; incorporate comedy, romance, and action; throw in a few songs and pop references; and make the protagonist an underdog. By following this formula, and doing so in an energetic and infectious manner, Shark Tale has virtually assured itself a successful box office run.
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