The Reef 2: High Tide Movie Review
An improvement on 2006's The Reef, this underwater adventure doesn't hold a candle to big studio animation, but its deeply ridiculous plot is charmingly scruffy. Compared to Pixar or DreamWorks, the animation here is fairly ropey, mainly in the design stage as the artists place human faces on the fish, but the surprisingly deranged humour keeps us smiling.
In the first film, plucky little Pi (voiced by Bell) managed to banish nasty shark Troy (Logue) from the reef. But Troy has now escaped from his human captors, who beefed him up with bulking-up drugs. During low tide, he can't get into the reef, so he sends the tiny shark Ronny (Kennedy) in disguise to prepare for his grand return at high tide in four days. Ronny's main job is to prevent Pi from teaching the other fish how to harness the "power of the sea" to defeat Troy, so Ronny distracts them by staging an elaborate variety show. This disrupts Pi's bootcamp, sparking the hammy performer in his wife Cordelia (Philipps), so Pi turns to his guru, the wise turtle Narissa (Schneider), for help.
Clearly, Ronny's undersea stage show was conceived as a way for the animators to go completely wild with music and colour, and it works. These scenes are hilariously silly, packed with breakdancing prawns and jellyfish choreography. There are also movie references and watery puns (like a reference to "Buoyancé Knowles"), plus a stream of military gags, as everyone prepares for battle. Most of these jokes are funny in a way the imagery can't live up to. Animated in Korea, the direction is often awkward and the imagery sometimes plasticky.
Fortunately, the voice cast has a lot of fun with the more subtle humour, including a lot of jokes aimed at adults ("That's a mighty big fin you have there!"), while the kids will be entertained by the fart gags. It also helps that the story's pace is fast and busy, so we don't have much time to think about the fact that it's also predictable and corny. And the big climactic sequence is enjoyably insane, although the filmmakers really miss a trick by truncating the final production of Ronny's big show, which could have been a raucous sing-along.