Friday, September 20, 2013

SyFy vs. The Mynd: Sharknado (2013)

A historically bad hurricane hits the coast of California, bringing flooding, tornados and very hungry sharks in the process. Damn you, climate change! As you know, Jim, sharks like nothing more than moving into the streets and swimming pools of Beverly Hills. Nothing, that is, but flying around in a tornado to eat people.

Like all problems in the life of the USA, this too, can be solved by judicious use of explosions, an old-fashioned yet effective approach far superior to torture and hunting people around the world for committing journalism. But before the sharksplosion can happen, our designated hero, middle-aged surfer dude, bar owner and divorcee Fin (Ian Ziering), his side kick, Tasmanian surfer dude Baz (Jason Simmons), and shark-hating waitress Nova (Cassie Scerbo) have to take care of personal business, namely reaching Fin's ex-wife April (Tara Reid), and their kids Claudia (Aubrey Peeples) and Matt (Chuck Hittinger), saving people from the sharksmenace wherever they go. Will they do it in time? Who will be eaten first? (The alcoholic played by John Heard I didn't even mention). Will there ever be a SyFy movie with divorced people who don't get back together - or at least grow close again - thanks to alien invasions, the sasquatch, or flying sharks?

As regular readers of this blog (I'm so very, very sorry for everything, guys) will know, I generally loathe The Asylum and their approach to low budget knock-off genre cinema that unerringly leads them to making crappy movies that think winking at an audience and telling them how bad they are is irony, or films where the worst actor imaginable plays Sherlock Holmes in a way which makes Ianto from Torchwood look charismatic beside him, or films that don't realize that Robo-Hitler, gang rape, and forced abortion don't belong in the same movie, or films that are just plain boring because nobody involved had any ideas on how to fill the time between the two scenes that'll play good in trailers. In a surprising turn of events, The Asylum's Sharknado, as made by them for our old shameless friend, the SyFy Channel, and directed by Anthony C. Ferrante avoids all of these pitfalls.

In fact, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the movie is Ferrante's effective approach to the film's tone. It is obvious that everyone involved knows how utterly idiotic and clichéd (not to speak of making a mockery of science, logic, and possibly the American Way) the film's plot is, but instead of just pointing and laughing at itself, it plays much of what's going on in it straight, timing jokes so that they are actually funny, and pretending that a lot of the included absurdity (personal favourite: Ziering getting eaten by a shark, cutting himself free from the inside with a chainsaw, and also rescuing Scerbo, who had been swallowed by said shark while falling out of a helicopter, in the process) is really very earnest stuff; which is exactly why it becomes as funny as it is awesome. Turns out I get what a joke is even when the film isn't telling me.

Sharknado further endears itself to me by slowly escalating its silliness, starting off with comparatively mild stupidity like a ferris wheel rolling around to crush people and sharks swimming the streets, and slowly working itself up to the really idiotic/awesome stuff like people killing sharknados with explosions and cutting flying sharks out of the air with chainsaws. All the while, there's also some hoary disaster movie character stuff going on that never acknowledges the absurdity of the surrounding action for a second. It's truly beautiful in its conscious unconsciousness.

Plus, last but not least, Tara Reid has so little dialogue she doesn't even have enough space to invoke the depths of her lack of acting skill.

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