CAPSULE: SHARKNADO (2013)

DIRECTED BY: Anthony C. Ferrante

FEATURING: Ian Ziering, Cassie Scerbo, Jaason Simmons, Tara Reid

PLOT: Global warming causes shark migrations and storms with heavy winds that pick up angry sharks and hurl them through the streets of L.A.

Still from Sharknado (2013)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: C’mon… Sharknado? Really? When you’ve got the weird movie review sites scoffing at the ridiculousness of your premise, you know your movie has issues.

COMMENTS: There have been high concept movies before, but Sharknado has streamlined the process by inventing a title that’s so high concept it makes the rest of the movie superfluous. In case you missed the point of the clever portmanteau, the movie is about a tornado that contains sharks. The problem here for the filmmakers that you really can’t fit more than five, ten minutes at most of actual sharknado footage into your movie, and you have an obligation to fill out the rest of the running time with a plot that doesn’t suck. Not to spoil Sharknado, but they can’t. In Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, Mary Lambert at least included a Tiffany/Debbi Gibson rivalry subplot (culminating in an old-fashioned hair-pulling catfight that actually one-upped the giant reptiles). Here, we only get a lame, barely realized domestic drama to fill in the stretches between flying shark attacks. The two male leads are bland. Alleged protagonist “Fin” (groan) acts like a self-sacrificing hero who values his family’s safety above his own life, but his ex-wife and daughter keep insisting that he’s a selfish jerk. It’s like they’re reading their lines from a different draft of the script. Fin’s surfin’ sidekick, “Baz,” is Tasmanian, and that’s all there is to say about his character. Tara Reid’s only purpose in the story is to be miffed and bitchy—she doesn’t even kill a single shark—and she looks bored in an underwritten role that will do nothing to get her stalled acting career back on track. Other than beach barfly John Heard, who seems like he will have a major role until he becomes an early victim, only Cassie Scerbo (who looks fantastic in a bikini, even with a shark scar on her upper thigh) gives it her all and has the kind of fun an actor should when romping around in something called Sharknado.

Besides the suspiciously selective-for-sharks cyclones (why couldn’t a tornado dump a bunch of lobster on us, preferably during a drizzle of drawn butter?), there are many deliberately dumb moments in the script that will have you shaking your head in either delight or disgust. For example, there’s a scene where the heroes are driving around the flooded streets of L.A. in their SUV and we are told that a full grown tiger shark is swimming under the car. Later, these geniuses scheme to destroy the sharknadoes by flying a helicopter into them and dropping a bomb, reasoning that “tornadoes happen when cold and warm air meet. If you drop a bomb head right in the middle of it, you just might equalize it.”

But, you must resist testing your wits by looking for the plot holes in Sharknado. That’s just what the filmmakers want you to do—to congratulate yourself for being smarter than the people who made this movie, while they in the meantime lounge on the Santa Monica beach, drinking fruity beverages with umbrellas and slices of pineapple in them and texting their financial advisers to see what investments they should buy with the money people like you paid for the DVD. Although these shark movies made by the studio known as the Asylum can be fun in a junk-food cinema sense, they are basically a scam; they profit off hastily churning out shoddy shark product and marketing it as camp. Critics were surprisingly kind to Sharknado. But the praise only rewards the filmmakers for being dumb, and encourages them to try to be even stupider next time out. I very nearly gave this schlock a “” rating, and only relented because, if by some miracle you have managed to avoid the Asylum’s other aquatic monstrosities like Mega Piranha and Sharktopus, Sharknado will seem original and mildly amusing. Enough said.

Much like contemporary children can’t comprehend how “Fonzie” could ever be considered cool, future generations will find it hard to believe that the television debut of Sharknado was a pop culture event. Archive this report from The Verge of this compendium of tweets from the Huffington Post and show them to your grandchildren to prove to them that, yes, a movie about a tornado full of sharks was a big deal for a couple of hours in 2013. Hopefully, that generation will look back at Sharknado as the point at which the seafood horror genre (please forgive me) jumped the shark.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…the movie signals its determination to efficiently get you the balls-out-crazy mayhem you want and not let narrative, budget constraints, or the laws of science get in the way.”–James Poniewozik, Time (TV broadcast)

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