Anyone vulnerable to earworms might best avoid Baby Shark’s Big Movie! (now streaming on Paramount+), perhaps for obvious reasons. This maniacal franchise spun from That Song, which is so mindlessly catchy, and so ubiquitous it’s the most-viewed YouTube video ever, the diabolical creator of it had no choice but to cash in with an animated TV series and this spinoff feature-length movie (and merchandise, can’t forget the merchandise). Now let’s see if it’s any good, or just, you know, do-do-do-do-do-do.
BABY SHARK’S BIG MOVIE!: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Meet Stariana (Ashley Tisdale), this movie’s villain. She HATES the “Baby Shark”’” song, which might make some of us villains too, but that’s beside the point. Her reasoning is far more nasty: Stariana’s a pop star bent on world domination. Her hit song, “Stariana,” goes “Stariana-na-na-na-na-na-na-na,” but it just doesn’t have the impact of “do-do-do-do-do-do.” She wants to be the “catchiest fish in the sea,” and that means she needs to acquire something called the Sirenstone, which will allow her to steal the “star mark” on Baby Shark’s cheek and then hypnotize the whole populace of the ocean. So yes, even this movie has a Thingy that’s a MacGuffin that everyone can chase around even though this isn’t a movie about the Thingy, it’s a movie about friendship.
Speaking of. Baby Shark (Kimiko Glenn) is BFFs with gold pilotfish William (Luke Youngblood). They make finship bracelets and are inseparable. It’s worth noting that, the first time they hear ‘Stariana,’ Baby Shark’s critique is, “It’s kinda repetitive, if you ask me.” Big laugh! Anyway, Baby Shark’s life is upended when Mommy Shark (Natasha Rothwell) gets a job in Chomp City as an entertainment director, which means she’s putting together the big Chomptacular concert – headlined by, of course, Stariana. That means Baby Shark not only has to move away from her BFF, but also will now be in Stariana’s sights. The Shark fam goes to live with Mommy’s friend Leah (Ego Nwodim), whose daughter Lannie (Chloe Fineman) really wants Baby to be her BFF. So what we’ve got here is not only a BFF triangle, but a mass hypnosis/MacGuffin plot, and all of it has to make room for nigh-interminable musical interludes – pop-song-style – designed to make anyone over the age of six certifiably insane. Will Baby Shark thwart the evil plan? More importantly, will we maintain our faculties by the end of this thing?
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Baby Shark’s Big Movie! is SpongeBob after eating three entire tins of goofyberry hash gummies.
Watching Hearing: As Stariana’s lickspittle personal assistant Gillie, Aparna Nancharla stirs up a laugh or three with some witty line-readings.
Memorable Dialogue: Baby Shark is alarmingly self-aware at times: “You know, for a moment there, I thought we were being too much!”
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: Is… is Baby Shark’s Big Movie! a commentary on Swiftmania? Maybe. You sure as hell can draw some parallels between Stariana’s mass-hypnosis stratagem and a certain real-life billionaire pop star’s feverishly frothy following. (There’s even a friendship bracelet subplot here!) Interpret away, my friends, interpret away. The movie is also self-commentary, spinning a very silly story out of the GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD RIGHT NOW PLEASE reality of the song. You know the song is Satanically catchy, I know the song is Satanically catchy, and Baby Shark herself knows the song is Satanically catchy. Of course, it’s used as a force for good in the movie, an irony that only adults in the audience will truly appreciate. And you will turn off the TV and go to bed and wake up the next morning humming the got danged thing and wondering if there’s a way to surgically lance the portion of your brain that contains it.
But, you may be asking, what about the non-adults? Will they appreciate this movie for being a bright, cheery, ridiculous slice of time-wasting entertainment? Yeah sure why not. It deploys nuclear-strength cuteness, enough maritime puns to sink an entire navy (cue the Lance Bass (played by Lance Bass!) and Elon Mollusk (!) jokes) and a goodly share of bland wholesomeness to it. Some preschooler fodder works too hard to be educational, or to be silly, or to shoehorn life lessons in. Baby Shark’s Big Movie! doesn’t do any of that, which is a good thing, I think. It underscores assertions about kindness and friendship that wee ears should probably hear. It’s just too bad that big ears in earshot have to hear the song, which will keep turning up like a bad brain-penny for the rest of our lives.
Our Call: Do-do-do-do-do-do watch Baby Shark’s Big Movie! if you’re four years old or so, but the rest of us should recognize the mighty power of earplugs. STREAM IT.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.