The story begins with an underachieving fish named Oscar (Will Smith), who is fantasizing about being rich and famous while making his way to work by following in his dad's footsteps as a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash. Soon after arriving, he's called to the office of his boss Sykes (Martin Scorsese) to discuss the fact that he owes "five thousand clams" and has to pay it back by the next day. After explaining this to his best friend Angie (Renée Zellweger), she offers him a chance to pay back the money by pawning a pink pearl that was a gift from her grandmother. Oscar brings the money to the race track to meet Sykes, but becomes distracted by his wishes of grandeur and places it all on a long-shot bet by the name of Lucky Day. Such a million dollar bet is noticed nearby by a beautiful dragonfish named Lola (Angelina Jolie), who flagrantly flirts with Oscar until quickly discovering the truth. Sykes is furious that Oscar bet the money, but agrees to see how the race turns out nonetheless. Moments before their "horse" Lucky Day crosses the finish line, he trips and falls on line. The race is lost and Oscar is set to be punished in a secluded area for his impulsiveness.
Meanwhile, on other side of the ocean, a family of criminally-inclined sharks has a problem with one of their sons named Lenny (Jack Black). Lenny and his brother and father live in the shipwrecked bow of the RMS Titanic. Lenny refuses to act the part of a killer and wishes to not have to live up to those expectations. Finally his father loses patience and orders Lenny's more savage big brother, Frankie to show Lenny the ropes. As the two sharks set out to go in accordance with their father's wishes, Frankie spots the scene where Oscar is being electrocuted by Ernie and Bernie (Ziggy Marley and Doug E. Doug), Sykes' two Jamaican jellyfish thugs, and sends Lenny off to attack. The jellyfish spot Lenny and swim off, leaving Oscar alone with him. Lenny frees Oscar but fails to trick Frankie, who becomes annoyed and charges at Oscar until an unknown anchor falls and kills him. Lenny flees, overcome with grief and guilt. As no one saw the deed done and Oscar was seen near the body, everyone thinks he did it, and Oscar sees this as the chance to both redeem himself and receive his fame.
Oscar comes back to the city with a new title of the Sharkslayer. Sykes becomes his manager, Lola becomes his girlfriend, and Oscar moves to the "top of the reef" to live in luxury. At the same time, Lino has everyone out looking for Lenny, and when several get close to Oscar's town the other fish expect him to drive them away. On the way he meets Lenny once more who forces Oscar to let him stay with him because he does not want to go home. Soon, Angie finds out about the lie and threatens to tell everyone, but Oscar and Lenny convince her to keep quiet. Even though Oscar desires to please everyone, he soon discovers that he pleases no one; his paramour Angie is heartbroken by the fact that Oscar is no longer honest, while her hedonistic rival Lola repeatedly reminds Oscar that he has her only as long as he's famous. With Don Lino planning revenge, Oscar and Lenny stage an event where Lenny pretends to terrorize the town and Oscar must defeat him, throwing him into the depths of the ocean. Even though this further cements Oscar as the Sharkslayer, it greatly angers Lino. Oscar leaves Lola for Angie after Angie reveals that she had feelings for Oscar even before he became famous, but this leaves Lola determined to get revenge.
Oscar buys some Valentine's Day gifts for Angie, but before he can present them to her, he finds that Lino kidnapped her in order to force a sit-down. Lenny comes along, now disguised as a dolphin named Sebastian. They arrive at the meeting to find Lola next to Lino, while Angie is bound and gagged with duct tape and presented to Lino on a plate, who prepares to eat her if Oscar doesn't comply. Oscar just laughs and Lenny as "Sebastian" lunges forward to scoop Angie into his mouth, freeing her from Lino and giving Oscar dominance over the sharks. However, he spends too much time threatening the sharks and doesn't realize how much pain Lenny is in, and Angie is regurgitated onto the table. Lino suddenly realizes it's Lenny and proceeds to chase Oscar through the reef, but Oscar heads for the whale wash and ends up trapping both sharks. Given an ovation by the other fish, Oscar confesses that he is not a "Sharkslayer" and that it was an anchor that had killed Frankie. He then strongly urges Lino not to prejudge people before he knows them properly and to not make the mistake he made in prejudging his wealth, so Lino and Lenny reconcile. Oscar forsakes all the wealth he has acquired, makes peace with the sharks, becomes manager of the Whale Wash (now frequented by sharks), and starts dating Angie. Meanwhile, Lola attempts to reconcile with Oscar, but later ends up with Crazy Joe.
- Will Smith as Oscar, the main protagonist.
- Jack Black as Lenny, the deuteragonist.
- Renée Zellweger as Angie, the tritagonist.
- Robert De Niro as Don Lino, the (former) main, but semi, antagonist.
- Martin Scorsese as Sykes, the (former) secondary, but semi, antagonist.
- Angelina Jolie as Lola, the tertiary, but true, antagonist.
- Doug E. Doug and Ziggy Marley as Ernie and Bernie
- Michael Imperioli as Frankie
- Vincent Pastore as Luca
- Peter Falk as Don Feinberg
- David P. Smith as Crazy Joe
- Katie Couric as Katie Current
- Jeremy Suarez as Shorty
- Frank Welker as Animals' vocal effects (uncredited)
Critical reception to Shark Tale since its release has been mixed to unfavorable. The review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that critics gave the film a 38% "rotten" approval rating (based on 169 reviews), and called it "derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes". Critical reception from Metacritic to Shark Tale was also mixed. It received an overall 48/100 approval rating (based on 36 reviews) and Metacritic users gave the film a 5.2/10 rating (based on 40 votes).
Despite the negative reviews, Shark Tale grossed $47,604,606 on its opening weekend placing itself #1. For the next two weeks, it stayed as the number one film, grossing $31,330,299 on its second week and on its third week, the film grossed $22,005,952. Overall, Shark Tale made $160 million nationwide and $206 million overseas with $367 million worldwide.
A sequel presumably called Shark Tale 2 has yet to be announced.
It is unknown when there will be TV specials of Shark Tale.
- Main article: Club Oscar
A short film called Club Oscar was released on February 8, 2005, along with the DVD release of Shark Tale.
- The film's original title was Sharkslayer, but it was eventually changed to Shark Tale.
- The film is constantly thought to be a remake, sequel, and spin-off of Finding Nemo.