Sharknado (2013)

Director: Anthony C. Ferrante

Starring: Tara Reid, Ian Ziering, John Heard, Cassie Scerbo, Jaason Simmons, Chuck Hittenger, Aubrey Peeples

Boy, the SyFy Channel has put out some whoppers, haven’t they? If you see a movie airing on that TV channel, the odds are that it will be some made-for-TV, low budget piece of crap that you really needn’t bother wasting one moment with. It was for that very reason that, when the media frenzy surrounding “Sharknado” erupted in 2013, I stayed out of the storm’s path and let it blow on by. Lately, though, I couldn’t help but be curious as to what it could be, other than the hilarious title, that was attracting viewers the same way the disastrous “Snakes on a Plane” had. I had also been sampling a lot of creature features as of late, such as “Piranha” (1978), “Humanoids from the Deep” (1980) and “Barracuda” (1978). Stay the hell away from that last one! With a premise like the one belonging to “Sharknado,” you have to know that it was made to be stupid. Ultimately, I figured, “Okay. I’ll bite.”

A hurricane is blowing in to destroy Los Angeles. The entire city is about to be flooded, though not just with water, but with sharks (which the hurricane picked up on its way in) too! Completely at random, we follow bar owner Fin Sheperd (Ian Ziering), barmaid Nova (Cassie Scerbo), and a handful of others who take it upon themselves to stop this calamitous tidal wave of carnivorous fish. Lots of carnage ensues, and all logic is completely cast aside. Really, the action reaches video game levels at times. The main crux of the story is that Fin wants to make sure that his family is safe from the sharks’ onslaught. The catch is that he’s separated/divorced from his wife, and at least one of his kids feels abandoned by him. Eventually, it becomes all about marking time until the threat is contained in the most “out there” way imaginable.

Ian Ziering, of “Beverly Hills, 90210” fame, is an odd choice for an action hero, but what the hell. And, look! Tara Reid’s in this movie… for some reason. She plays Fin’s vacuous, estranged wife. I really don’t know what she’s doing here at all. The whole subplot with the family feels like padding to allow the film a running time of just under an hour and a half. That probably means that it’s exactly what it seems. I know the movie was intended to be funny but, honestly, the funniest thing about “Sharknado” is the casting of someone who is merely seven years younger than Tara Reid in the role of her son. Don’t think I need to explain why that feels weird. We even get a largely unnecessary backstory for Nova… because simply being a scantily-clad, shotgun-wielding barmaid wasn’t good enough.

I suppose what I’m getting at here is that “Sharknado” knows it’s just a dumb B-movie but, rather than simply relish in that fact, it overcomplicates things by actually trying to form a plot. Usually, that would be something to celebrate, but when you cast non-entities in semi-important roles like the family members of the main character… you know, the ones he’s the most motivated to keep safe… it really keeps you from giving a crap whether they live or die. I know full well how to turn my brain off to enjoy a movie, but I don’t need roadblocks in the path leading me to that satisfaction. A sequel is in the works, to be set in New York City (duh! what else?) and Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are both returning. I would laugh, but I think that’s what they would want me to do, so I’ll contain my amusement.

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