HELP! I'M A FISH
Fly (voice of Jeff Pace), his young sister Stella (voice of Michelle Westerson) and cousin Chuck (voice of Aaron Paul) sneak out of the house to go fishing, but end up in the secret laboratory of Professor H.O. MacKrill (voice of Terry Jones). Believing that the continents will soon become submerged due to global warming, the professor has created a potion to make it possible for humans to live under water. When Stella accidentally drinks the potion and is transformed into a starfish, Fly and Chuck also drink the potion so they can find her. They have only 48 hours to find the antidote, or they will remain fish forever. Meanwhile Joe (voice of Alan Rickman), the smart pilot-fish realises the antidote is the source of unlimited power and gives tiny doses to hundreds of fish, who immediately become his servants.
Review by Louise Keller:
It’s fish-tastic! A magical fantasy about children who turn into fish and find themselves at the mercy of a fish-dictator, Help! I’m A Fish takes us into a world of colour, song and dance in the wonderland on the ocean floor. Just like Alice who tumbled down the rabbit-hole, Fly, Chuck and Stella find themselves in a submerged fishy world filled with characters of all shapes and sizes. It’s a combination of good storytelling, inventive animation and delightful songs that entice you to hum along.
Originally voiced in Danish, it’s a combination of traditional and computer generated animation, with explosions of colour and visually stunning underwater sequences. There are playful escapades as the children float and bounce on bubbles, a dramatic encounter with an octopus, an army of crabs that become army-coloured machine-monster tanks and shoals of striking zebra fish that make an impression.
Fun-seeking Fly initially makes fun of the pudgy, studious Chuck who is caught up with his logarithms and computer, but as the boys-turned-fish are forced to use every resource available, it becomes clear that the solution to their problems comes from the use of brain power. From a sweet little girl in pigtails to starfish with bunches, Stella becomes enamoured with a turquoise sea horse, which she adopts as her ‘toy’.
The conversion from boys to fish for Fly and Chuck is equally entertaining: Fly becomes a hip-fish complete with baseball cap and rotund four-eyed Chuck becomes a rounded, bespectacled jellyfish. The story focuses on the villain of the piece, a sly pilot-fish called Joe (spicily voiced by Alan Rickman), who looks a little like Rocky Horror’s Frankenfurter, with his thick black lips and unadulterated attitude. All that’s missing is the fish nets (pun intended). I love the scene when Joe and his side-kick (an exceptionally unintelligent, brainless, seaweed sucker of a shark) first drink the antidote and realise that they can now talk. Yep, talking fish. But, I almost forgot. The force is also with them.
There’s plenty of fun and frolic as the countdown to sundown begins, and the pressure is on for Fly and Chuck to find a solution before they are relinquished to being fish forever. Help! I’m A Fish is one of the most innovative and memorable titles ever for a film, and the film doesn’t disappoint, catering successfully for every age between 5 and 95. (I overheard an animated and forthright six year old little girl at the screening assure her father that the film was ‘perfect’.) A thoroughly enchanting frolic for anyone tall or small, this light, bright charmer is a dose of escapist tonic – and happily, no antidote is required.
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Favourable: 1 (Louise)
HELP! I'M A FISH (G)
(Germany / Denmark / Ireland)
Hjælp, jeg er en fisk
CAST: VOICES: Alan Rickman, Terry Jones, Jeff Pace, Michelle Westerson, Aaron Paul, The Shark, Tommy Karlsen, Teryl Rothery
PRODUCER: Russel Boland, Eberhard Junkersdorf, Anders Mastrup
DIRECTOR: Stefan Fjeldmark, Michael Hegner
SCRIPT: Stefan Fjeldmark, Karsten Kilerich, John Stefan Olsen
EDITOR: Per Risager
MUSIC: Soren Hyldgaard
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Art Direction: Matthias Lechner
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto Entertainment
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 26, 2003 (all states except Qld/Vic: July 3, 2003)