Starring Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer, Vivica A. Fox, Tiffany Shepis, Judah Friedlander, Judd Hirsch, and more C/D list celebrities than the last several seasons of “Dancing with the Stars” combined
Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante
Syfy Premiere Date: July 70, 2014
Sharknado 2 is less an actual motion picture and more like the first-ever feature length meme. I felt like I was watching a sequel to social media’s reaction to Sharknado more so the film itself.
A 90-minute running gag that repeatedly cycles through the gambit of hysterical to groan-inducing to morbidly fascinating in a how-far-can-they-possibly-stretch-this-out sort of way. Might as well change the name of the already in the works third installment to Sharkquake because with The Second One they’ve pretty much run the Sharknado premise into the ground.
I’ve taken plenty of guff from those that could not believe I (or anyone for that matter) gave Sharknado a rave review, heralded it a modern day cult classic, proclaimed it the most fun I had watching any movie last summer, and even went so far as to put it on my year-end best list. I continue to make no apologies for having fun watching such a uniquely stupid film.
How others reacted to how Sharknado unexpectedly popped the culture proved equally enjoyable. There were those that watched it and had a blast. Those that watched it and thought the title was the only good part. Most intriguing, however, were those that refused to watch it and because their Twitter feed was filled with Sharknado jokes for a few days continue to act as if the very existence of the film is their own personal 9/14. I admit even I got turned off by the endless jokes and ensuing promotional overhype in the wake of its premiere; honestly, how often does something this unlikely become a bona fide pop culture phenomenon? In this age of manufactured hype, even with more than a tinge of irony attached, the night Sharknado took social media by storm was practically a grassroots affair.
The #1 argument I always see waged against Sharknado tends to be that intentionally bad movies are no fun compared to movies that set out to be good only to end up cinematic fiascos. There is definitely truth to that sentiment. Then again, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather watch Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or just about any given Troma flick over most of the joyless movie misfires that had loftier ambitions. Also something of a disingenuous argument considering the same people that tout this advocate for an awful lot of “good” movies that are really purposefully bad film that successfully fool viewers because their bigger budget allows for a shinier coat of paint.
Now with that said, I’ll be the first to admit all the knocks against part one are pretty on-point with part two. The hype is now totally by design, the intentional stupidity feels forced too much of the time, everyone seems too keenly aware they’re in on the joke now, the punchlines are not nearly punchy enough given how much more firmly the tongue had been planted in cheek, and as is usually the case, neither jokes nor movie premises tend to be as fresh the second go-round. What started out as junk food cinema has now become deep fried butter-on-a-stick. Those that had fun with part one will again find stuff to laugh at/with. Those that hated the first will most likely be moved to vomit blood visualizing their even greater disdain for the second. Sharknado 2: The Second One is like Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time for the mash-up generation.
Part two opens and closes in spectacular fashion, but nearly everything that occurs between the preposterous pre-credits airplane sequence (complete with a Robert Hays cameo as the pilot and a nod to a certain famous “Twilight Zone” episode) and its even more unhinged Empire State Building climax could be edited and reassembled in just about any order without making much of a difference. I’d argue its predecessor had some semblance of narrative and method to its madness. This, on the other hand, is a series of trading cards come to life sketches set in random NYC locations involving sharks that often just materialize out of thin air (expect way more “shark” than “nado”) with minor celebrities you may recognize appearing just long enough for you to possibly recognize them. ‘Nuff said.
Valiantly playing every bit of this idiocy with a straight face is Ian Ziering, back again as surfer turned chainsaw-wielding meteorological Carcharodon slayer, Fin. He has to contend not just with flying denizens of the deep; he’s also emotionally traumatized by the newfound hero status he earned saving Los Angeles from the windy jaws of death a year earlier.
Tara Reid is also back as his less-estranged-than-before ex-wife, April, now the author of a book entitled How to Survive a Sharknado. Expect one million Tara Reid/illiteracy jokes to light up Twitter during the opening minutes.
They’re headed to New York City to promote her book on “Live with Kelly & Michael” and meet up with Fin’s sister (Kari Wuhrer, the co-star of Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time – it must be awesome being her agent), her dopey husband (Sugar Ray frontman turned TV host Mark McGrath), and his old high school girlfriend who still has the hots for him (Vivica A. Fox, why not?). They get separated into three groups when the skies above Manhattan begin raining sharks (also snowing since the movie was shot in February despite being set during hurricane season) and have to find their way back to one another for the final battle with nature’s goofiest fury.
Along the way they cross paths with a slew of (mostly semi-)famous people. Some play themselves on TV reacting to the Sharknado threat (Matt Lauer and Al Roker, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan). A few get to be actual characters (Judd Hirsch as a helpful taxi driver). Many turn up just long enough to get chomped (too numerous to list). Others appear because – just because (even more numerous to list). The celebrity cameos in Sharknado 2 are more gratuitous than product placement in a Michael Bay movie.
A good number of these cameos felt like real missed opportunities. You don’t put Andy Dick in a movie like this and then let him live. Why even cast Kurt Angle if you’re not going to have him suplex a shark? However, if you’ve ever wanted to see Perez Hilton eviscerated, Wil Wheaton get eaten, or Kelly Osbourne’s head bitten off like her famous father used to do bats on stage, then you’re in for a real treat.
Sharknado 2: The Second One a bit more guilty than pleasure this time. Though what it lacks in lucidity it frequently makes up for with audacity. When sharknamis flood subways, the Statue of Liberty’s (hilariously out of scale) severed head becomes the boulder from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and surviving shark-infested waters hinges one’s ability to literally jump the shark, it’s hard not to wonder if director Anthony C. Ferrante and writer Thunder Levin sat around seriously contemplating what demented visions Roland Emmerich hallucinates whenever he gets stoned on his yacht while watching Animal Planet.
7 out of 5