JUNE 13, 2012
When I first heard about Jersey Shore Shark Attack, I assumed it was a sketch from Funny Or Die or something, only to be told that it was indeed a full length film. I even asked a second party to confirm it, because I was so incredulous that Syfy (sans The Asylum to boot!) would make such nonsense – this seemed inane even by their standards. So imagine my surprise to discover that it wasn’t as terrible as I assumed, but it was actually better/less idiotic than Sharks In Venice, which was airing immediately after.
As with any of these movies, by no means am I telling you to seek it out. But if you’re the type that routinely watches Syfy Original Movies, or “so bad it’s good” type entertainment, you can certainly do worse. Some of the (intentional!) humor actually worked on me, and I’ve never seen more than 12 seconds of the film’s namesake TV show. I’m sure there were jokes specifically targeting episodes or characters on that show, but apart from a passing familiarity with what Snooki and “The Situation” look like, I do not and will not subject myself to enough of the show to even understand what the other character’s names were parodying (Nooki and “The Complication” were easy enough to figure out; the rest went right over my head – there’s a guy named Balzac here – is that a parody of someone’s actual name?).
The odd thing is, the movie is actually kind of a straight up Syfy killer shark movie, complete with random victims that they cut to, give a line or two of dialogue to in order to justify their screen credit, and quickly kill without anyone ever mentioning them again. I actually had to look at a few message board posts to make sure that the film wasn’t just a 90 minute spoof with a couple of shark scenes thrown in to justify the title, but if anything it was more like the other way around. I wouldn’t be surprised if a generic shark movie was written first and then they decided to Jersey Shore-ize it in order to give it some flavor.
Because after their introductions and the occasional line or joke, it plays out exactly like their other movies, with “The Complication” in the role that one might give to Eric Balfour or someone from Battlestar Galactica. A friend dies, a rival is accused of murder, he investigates and discovers shark evidence, no one believes him, he goes out on his own to find them… total clockwork. Except he has two omnipresent pals who high five him every time he says something, and his girlfriend is painted orange, and every now and then someone calls him a Guido. Oh and obscure Italian dishes are mentioned with alarming frequency. The point is, it’s a Shark Attack movie with Jersey Shore shit tossed in, not the other way around, and that is to its credit.
In fact I could almost see them turning this into a mini-franchise of sorts. SPOILER – none of the idiots die, so they could conceivably turn them loose in a haunted house, or a found footage thing, or whatever. It seems like the writers got more comfortable with the concept as it went on; the 3rd act is genuinely entertaining as their rivalry with the local douchebag preppy types and quest to destroy the sharks come together (Nooki, pissed at TC, has gone on the preppy’s yacht, which is besieged by sharks), so TC has to save the day and the girl while complaining that a shark fucked up his new sneakers.
There’s also an evil human plot, because of course there is. Paul Sorvino (top billed for 3 brief scenes, one of which has him noticeably reading his lines off camera) and William Atherton are greedy land developers that have been drilling near the pier and disrupting the sharks, which they knew would happen but didn’t care, or something. It’s as by the numbers as everything else, but it gives the finale a bit more oomph; the JS kids are fighting sharks at the yacht, while a few other sharks attempt to destroy the pier. It ends as you’d expect, with the giant ferris wheel rolling off its base and crushing the two to death.
Speaking of the carnage, the FX are actually pretty solid. The sharks occasionally roar and bob their heads up next to a boat like they were giraffes or something (and look like Wadzilla from Chillerama more than sharks in closeup), but otherwise they’re much better than average, and there’s even a big practical head for some of the random “off-plot” kill scenes. And real blood! One random girl gets completely drenched in the stuff; that one scene has more Karo syrup than some of their full movies do as their filmmakers opt for awful digital splatter that always looks atrocious. And they make no sense at all, but the obligatory “Shark jumps out of nowhere and eats a guy whole” bits are quite well done – there’s one moment that I actually didn't see coming (only to discover later that it was spoiled in the trailer; bummer).
And any shark movie that ends with everyone cheering “Guidos!” over and over in celebration of having just machine gunned their enemies is automatically better than most shark movies. So all of the other stuff I wrote in (surprising) defense of this thing doesn’t even matter, really.
What say you?