You know, it's not very often that I do a Monday Matinee feature on a made-for-television movie, but given the recent buzz over a film that aired on television just last month, I thought that I would make an exception.
Before I get into the discussion, I thought that I would offer up a little confession. The only reason why I am just now getting to this film for discussion is because I only managed to watch the film for the first time just a couple of days ago on Canada's version of the Discovery Channel. I didn't want to do a Monday Matinee on a film that I have never seen. I wouldn't have much to talk about if I hadn't.
So, that's why I'm coming a little bit late to the party. I hope that you all understand.
And now, on with the discussion.
There are a few reasons why whenever I talk about films in the Monday Matinee that I don't typically choose movies that were made for a television audience (with lone exception to the 1994 miniseries “The Stand”, which was absolutely brilliant).
The first reason is that nobody really remembers them after they air. Most people can quote at least one or two quotes from “Star Wars”, “Harry Potter”, or “Borat”, but I bet you that nobody remembers the movie which had Kellie Martin from “Life Goes On” stabbing Tori Spelling to death with a knife. I don't even remember the title. Though admittedly, I imagine some tuned in to watch Donna Martin – exsanguinate.
(Yeah, yeah...bad joke. I know. For the record, the TV movie was 1994's “A Friend To Die For”.)
The second reason is that most of these television movies are unnecessarily saccharinely sweet. I get that Hallmark has made a fortune with nice, warm, and fuzzy messages printed inside of each greeting card they manufacture. But there's a reason for that. A greeting card is only like thirty seconds of entertainment. Now, if you took that same sentiment and expanded it into a two hour movie, it would be so much sweetness that you'd probably throw up a rainbow of Skittles. I have nothing against Hallmark films, but I can't sit through one without resisting the urge to change the channel.
And, lastly, made for television movies are churned out faster than episodes of MTV's “The Real World”, and none of them have really stood out as being epic, memorable, and noteworthy enough to devote an entire blog to them...
The film up for discussion today aired on the Syfy Channel on July 11, 2013, and as of August 2013 has an unusually high ranking on the film review website “Rotten Tomatoes” (last I checked, it was just under 90% in its approval rating). Mind you, I would imagine that a lot of those rankings were either punched in by die-hard fans, people under the influence of something, or people who love a movie no matter how ridiculous it is.
And believe me, the premise for this film is quite ridiculous. In fact, I think it can be summarized in just one word.
Yes, believe it or not, I'm doing a blog entry on what appears to be the hottest trend for Summer 2013. “Sharknado”.
And, I think we can figure out what the movie is about just based on the two words that make up this...rather awkward looking portmanteau.
Shark (n) – a giant fish species with sharp teeth, classified to be at the highest order of the underwater food chain
Tornado (n) – a rotating cloud of air that is in contact with the ground and a cumulonimbus cloud that is capable of destroying entire structures depending on its speed
You put them together, and you have this.
Sharknado (n) – a rotating cloud of air that is capable of raining sharks down upon the earth
Now, I don't know exactly if there has ever been any instance of a “sharknado” ever being recorded in the modern history books. I'm going to wager a guess that a sharknado has never ever happened before, but then again, I've only been alive thirty-two years. For all I know, we could have had one back in 707 BC and not even realized it because none of us were around.
But, just for the sake of argument, let's just state that sharknadoes are extremely rare. We've never actually seen one happen, but the possibility I suppose is always there. Like maybe a 0.0000000000001% chance.
Anyway, that's the basic plot of “Sharknado”. A hurricane appears in the middle of the Pacific Ocean just outside of Los Angeles, California, and the result sends thousands of killer sharks up in the air to swirl around a funnel cloud that is fast approaching the city. And this is a really bad thing to happen. Los Angeles is after all one of the most populated cities in the United States, and if sharks began to fall down on Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it wouldn't be great for tourism. And, most certainly, everyone in the city would become lunch for these displaced sharks.
But that's okay! We have a team of heroes made up of former 1990s stars! With Ian Ziering from “Beverly Hills 90210”, Tara Reid from “American Pie”, the dad from “Home Alone” (John Heard) and Jaason Simmons from “Baywatch” on our side, we have no reason to worry, right?
Well, okay...I suppose it could be worse. We could have had Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin. Hey, maybe Tori Spelling could have stabbed Kellie Martin with the tooth of a Great White Shark as payback for what Kellie did to her in that 1994 movie!
Anyway, “Sharknado” is definitely a movie that is filled with action. See a guy get his arm lopped off by a shark, bleeding to death right on the pavement! See the iconic ferris wheel located on the Santa Monica Pier roll away and smash into a building! See a shark swallow someone whole after they fall out of a helicopter already in motion!
And see marine biologists, meteorologists, and scientists all over the world writhing around the floor in uncontrollable fits of laughter over how ridiculous and inaccurate the film is!
To be honest with you, I'm not exactly the kind of guy who likes seeing films with excessive blood and gore, and I usually turn away my head every time I see it happen (one of the many reasons why I want a career in writing and not in medicine). But the ways in which people were killed off on “Sharknado” were so ridiculous and unbelievable that I didn't get the slightest bit nauseous. I laughed my head off at the scenes which were supposed to be serious, but executed as anything but!
I'm specifically singling out the last twenty minutes of the film as being one of those moments that was like a really horrible twenty-seven car pileup on the middle of a major highway. It's incredibly bad, horrific, and vomit-inducing, but for some insane reason, you have a very difficult time not staring at it like a deer in the headlights.
That essentially summarizes my entire “Sharknado” viewing experience. A movie that is absolutely bad in every possible way, but invoked such a fan reaction that it became an instant hit all over the world. I mean, Mia Farrow tweeted about the movie on her own account. She was all like “OMG Sharknado!!!” She was completely fan-girling this movie, keeping in mind that she was in “Rosemary's Baby” and several other high profile pictures over her career. So, I suppose if Mia Farrow liked it, then it had to have some impact, right?
At any rate, my final impression of “Sharknado” is as such. It's a movie that has so many plot holes, it's like the film version of swiss cheese. The acting skills are...well...laughably bad. And, the likelihood of sharks raining down over the California coast is well...slim to impossible. At the same time though, I do like the fact that the filmmakers have made the film knowing that we weren't going to take it seriously. They were having fun with the crazy plot, and took chances on scenes for the film. Some actually didn't turn out too bad, while others were laughably horrible. But, you know you have to admire the fact that they took a risk, and judging by the fact that people are still talking about “Sharknado” a month later, it seemed that they accomplished what they set out to do.
And Ian Ziering is probably enjoying his new-found popularity. Why, I don't think he's had this much media coverage since “Beverly Hills 90210” wrapped up in 2000. It doesn't even matter whether his acting will win him a People's Choice Award (not likely), or a Golden Raspberry Award (now we're talking). His name is out there again, and that likely makes him very happy.
All in all, “Sharknado” might not meet the definition of being a film classic that people will remember twenty or thirty years down the road...but as a summer film that serves as a nice distraction from everyday life? It works.