A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 158 – Spring Break Shark Attack

Spring Break Shark Attack – August 5th, 2010

This movie started out exactly as I expected, with a bunch of busty women getting eaten by a shark. But then it went and started building a plot! And there are real actors in this movie! It’s bizarre. Actors, who’ve been in real movies! Playing real characters with personalities and backstories! It’s inexplicable! And I’m using lots of exclamation marks! But seriously, I was told not to expect much from this movie, so I went into it expecting two things: Women in bikinis and sharks, and the inevitable convergence of the two. I wasn’t expecting even the semblance of a plot.

Okay, so, let’s talk about the plot and characters the movie had the nerve to have. College student Danielle, frustrated by her super overprotective father, sneaks off to join some friends in Florida for spring break. You see, her father won’t even let her live in the dorms at the local college he’s forced her to attend and she’s sick of it. Once she gets down there she meets up with two friends and one friend’s boyfriend and his friend, J.T.. The two guys are uber sleazy and thankfully one of them gets eaten pretty quickly. Meanwhile there are some locals, Mary Jones and her son Shane, who have a struggling charter fishing business, and Joel Gately, a club owner. Oh, and then there’s Danielle’s brother, Charlie, who’s a marine biology student. So the partiers are all partying and the locals are all concerned about an artificial reef that’s been put in and there’s a romantic subplot where Danielle’s got a thing for Shane but one of the sleazy guys wants to nail her. Eventually everything comes to a head with an attempted rape and a whole shitload of sharks. Then Danielle, Shane and Charlie end up out on a boat in the middle of the water, surrounded by the sharks.

The truly bizarre thing is, I think the movie tried in a very clumsy way to draw a parallel between the sleazy guy and the sharks and I think it sort of succeeded. I mean, Danielle’s father flat out calls the sort of guys who go down to spring break sharks. And J.T. has this ominous musical theme that follows him around like the reek of AXE. He’s a wannabe date rapist who cruises his way through the parties in the movie, sniffing for naivete. Meanwhile, the sharks in the water are grabbing girls too drunk to scream for help. Yeah, like I said, clumsy, but I’m pretty damn sure it was intentional. And that’s a hell of a lot more than the title implies you’ll be seeing.

I will give Danielle (and the propmaster) some credit for reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the beach. Now that’s a spring break plan I can get behind. She and Shane both end up flirting in a bookstore at one point while Danielle hides from the super loud club her friends and J.T. have dragged her to. I am not joking when I say that if I had ever gone to any beach party spring break sort of thing I’d have ended up ensconced in a bookstore, avoiding the sun and the booze. She’s a smart enough girl who’s rebelling a little, but not too much. It’s actually a plot point that she doesn’t drink.

Another thing I’m giving the movie some credit for is that it’s not nearly as over-the-top as I thought it would be. While there are some obligatory shark attack shots and fountains of bloody seawater, the sharks themselves are average size tiger sharks, lured into the area with chum. That’s really somewhat tame. And then they go and solve everything with science! And I’m not talking neon lights and beakers full of food coloring this time. I’m talking about Danielle’s brother’s big experimental electric shark repelling devices. Here I was expecting string bikinis and screaming and while there is a fair amount of that, I also got science and dramatic tension. Weird.

We’d sort of been putting this one off, I think. In part because Sharks in Venice, Megalodon and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus seemed like such promising vaguely sci-fi flavored cheese, whereas this seemed more pedestrian. Take MTV the whole month of March and toss in sharks, right? And in part because we decided to get it based off a review I found online that totally panned it, saying it was this horrible and unwatchable piece of trash and would make more sense viewed backwards. But I’ve got to say, I actually enjoyed it. I liked Danielle. I liked Shane. I cheered when certain other characters met their grisly ends. Sure, we figured out what was going on with the sharks almost immediately, and it’s not like this is winning any cinematography or screenwriting awards. And maybe I’m biased after our last three movies, but I found this genuinely fun to watch, both for the cheesy shark attack scenes and for the better-than-expected plot, characters and acting. Baffling, but there you have it.

August 5, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Break Shark Attack

August 5, 2010

Spring Break Shark Attack

Of all the shark movies we had lined up for this week this is the one I had the lowest expectations for. I mean, you know where you stand with Sharks in Venice or Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, but you’re not really going to get that kind of cheese with a spring break themed movie. As I put this in I was expecting something exploitatively awful along the lines of Lost Boys: The Tribe – something that substituted mostly naked girls and gore for plot or acting. You can’t imagine how shocked and pleased I am that I was so wrong.

This turns out to be a pretty engaging movie with actual plot and action, romance, suspense, even some legitimate evil bad-guys. Oh, and yeah, there’s a few sharks… but it turns out that maybe the sharks are not the worst creatures on the beach in Florida during spring break.

Danielle is a level headed girl who feels suffocated by her controlling father. When two of her friends call her up and insist that she join them for spring break in Florida she eventually succumbs to their cajoling and runs off to join them rather than going to Colorado to do habitat for humanity like her family thinks she has. In the movie spring break is every bit as exploitative and slimy as I was expecting, but the movie actually has its heart in the right place in this regard.

Spring break is a bigger evil than the sharks. At least that’s the message of the movie. It’s a booze fueled ongoing annoying party. Not at all Danielle’s kind of scene. She’d rather just sit on the beach and read her book. (My wife pointed out that the huge tome she’s reading is actually Harry Potter. We got some laughs out of that.) The beaches are filled with evil predators, most of them on two legs, and the film makers get a lot of mileage out of that concept.

One of Danielle’s friends is on the beach to find her boyfriend, about whom she has heard some unflattering rumors. Turns out the rumors are true and the boyfriend is making a sort of “Girls Gone Wild” videotape with his slimy pal J.T. This slimy bastard sets his sights on the clearly naive Danielle and makes it his goal to seduce her. Luckily there are some good people on the beach as well. There’s Shane, a local townie who’s trying to save up money working for his mother’s boat rental service so he can go to college and study engineering. J.T. takes Danielle to a popular local club, and then Shane meets her at a nearby book store. Which one do you think I rooted for? Then there’s Danielle’s brother Charlie who is doing a dissertation on the dangers of constructing an artificial reef which doesn’t just attract pretty reef fish but also attracts sharks.

The whole rivalry between the slimeball and the nice local boy is actually very well done. The movie even gets a couple strong ad break cliffhangers out of it. Who’d have thunk that a made-for-TV shark attack movie would have characters you actually end up caring about, with some actual real drama?

Oh, I won’t say that the movie is perfect. It’s very clearly a made for TV thing – with the clearly delineated ad breaks and such. It also has rather a lot of handheld camera work – and not just during the scenes at sea. There was one particular scene with Danielle visiting her brother in his college dorm room where the camera was shaking all over the place as they talked – I kept asking myself “why didn’t the crew have any tripods?”

The actual shark attacks are hilarious. The film makers use two basic methods to make something that is both gory and suitable for television broadcast. One is a kind of blood geyser. People get sucked under the water and then explode in a spout of blood and water that launches up from the deep. (It looks as silly as it sounds. Both Amanda and I laughed out loud the first time it happened.) The other method is a wonderful rubber shark head. It looms up from the water nicely, but it is entirely unarticulated, so it can’t actually bite anybody. The result is that anybody who is to be a victim of this particular menace has to pretty much throw themselves into the shark’s mouth.

The last quarter of the movie or so is the titular shark attack, and it’s everything you could hope it would be. It gets kind of over the top, what with people having to hurl themselves into the jaws of the rubber shark. There’s a ton of made-for-TV blood and lots of young people in bathing suits running around and screaming. In a pleasingly cheesy way it delivers on the promise of the title.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this was absolutely NOT the movie I thought it was going to be. It’s well made, well written and well acted. It has just enough cheese to please the bad movie lover in me, but it is actually not a bad movie at all. Color me shocked.

August 5, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment