The South African CGI animation house Triggerfish (“Zambezia”) makes its Netflix debut with “Seal Team,” an animated action comedy about seals taught to fight back against “ravenous seal-eating sharks” by a grizzled HMMF (Hydro-Marine-Military-Force) trained walrus
We see seals not as human Naval commandos, but as…seals — complete with acronyms (RSI, “really stupid idea”), seal jargon and gadgets — “puffer mines,””shrimp pistols,” a bara-zooka,” and “electric eel volts” — as well as sometimes amusing birds, scary-funny (ish) sharks and a “Baby Shark” joke.
It’s more a time-killer than anything anybody, young or old, needs to see. But the animation’s quite good.
Jessie T. Usher voices Quinn, a guilt-ridden seal whose carelessness gets a friend of his eaten. They’d run across these dog tags on the sea bottom, tags that used to belong to a walrus/seal/dolphin team led by Taggart, a walrus voiced by J.K. Simmons. Quinn stumbles into Taggart, who dismisses him because he’ll need help, others who are “brave, stupid or crazy enough” to take on that sort of combat.
So Quinn lands crazy Beth (Kristen Schaal) and preening “brave” blowhard Geraldo (Patrick Warburton) and they talk/blackmail Taggart into training them. What should this “ensemble,” “club” or “flipper patrol” call themselves?
Yes, the jokes are like that.
The sharks (Matthew Rhys voices the scariest) are serious trash talkers, of the “Get INTO my FACE hole” and “This is what happens when you go up against the FOOD chain!” school.
The seals are mainly fed up with sharks, and fed up with the limited diet they endure with sharks seriously cramping their fish-hunting style.
Barnacles? Ick. “They taste like sand…and disappointment.”
With this voice cast and a “Shark Tale” setting, there’s no reason “Seal Team” couldn’t have been funnier.
The movie’s more militarized than most parents like their kiddy entertainment to be, but that’s not what lets down “Seal Team.” The action beats are borrowed from “Finding Nemo/Finding Dory” and “Shark Tale,” pretty much, and nothing to tempt tiny tots to sit still for 100 minutes.
Co-director Greig Cameron is the sole credited screenwriter. He should have shared the credit and put out a call for writers of better one-liners than “Kiss my tail fin!”
The singer “Seal” plays a singer seal named Seal, singing that “Quinn is never gonna survive.” There’s a funny basking shark reminiscent of characters from “Finding Nemo,” and a really good Australian “shark cage” tour boat send up.
But that’s pretty much every comic highlight of “Seal Team.”
Rating: TV-Y7, violence
Cast: The voices of J.K. Simmons, Kristen Schaal, Jessie T. Usher, Kate Micucci, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Warburton, and Seal.
Credits: Directed by Greig Cameron and Kane Croudace, scripted by Greig Cameron. A Triggerfish Animation film for Netflix.
Running time: 1:38