Sure, the big news in entertainment this week may be the impending release of some movie with a space tree and his talking raccoon, but let’s be real: the best value will be a little sequel airing tomorrow night on Syfy. Sharknado 2: The Second One reunites us with Ian Zerling and Tara Reid as they help the big apple avoid getting too big a bite taken out of it by an all-new and deadlier sharkstorm. But is this a good family film? Well, read on and we’ll try to answer that question, and more!
Sharknado? Really? Why is this even a thing? Syfy has built quite the cottage industry over the last decade making low-budget monster movies, often with ever more rediculous names and concepts. For example, just last night we watched Ghost Shark. Yes, the angry vengeful spirit of a shark that was brutally murdered by some redneck fishermen comes back to ravage an entire town, appearing ANYWHERE THERE’S WATER. Tubs, buckets, sinks… toilets. You get the idea. Well, it seems that there’s money to be made, and occasionally there’s something so outrageous, yet self-aware, that you get the holy grail of schlock: a movie so bad, it’s good. That was the first Sharknado. And now, to capitalize on the sensation, a sequel set in NYC, with more cameos that you can shake a chainsaw at.
It’s a sequel. Do I need to have seen the first one? While it wouldn’t hurt (much) to have seen the first Sharknado, if just to get the family backstory, no. It’s entirely possibly to enjoy Sharknado 2 on its own terms.
Well, what’s it about? Ian Zerling’s Fin Shepherd (yeah, that’s his name) and Tara Reid’s April Wexler, the heroes of the first Sharknado movie, are headed to NYC to see family, played by Mark McGrath of the band Sugar Ray and Kari Wurher, who was (next to John Rhys-Davies) the best part of the series Sliders back in the day (they play, wait for it… Martin and Ellen Brody). Before their plane even lands, the shark storms start. The rest of the movie is about family trying to find each other and a race to stop the sharknado from killing too many people in completely absurd ways.
Okay, then, is it any good? Were you reading above? No, it’s not a good movie, in the sense of plot or character development or, well, most standard measures. But it’s a FUN movie. It’s crazy and outrageous. And when you’re not shouting “OWW!” because someone was just eaten by a shark in some spectacular manner in a place where sharks shouldn’t be, you’re shouting “HEY LOOK!” at the amusing cameos that pop up all through the film.
Can I watch it with my kids? As always, it depends upon your kids. This is a b-grade monster movie about sharks. There’s a lot of fake blood, quite a few limbs or torsos are bitten through, and people are shown in mortal danger. But it’s completely silly. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and while the actors are playing it relatively straight, everything is done with a wink and a nod, so if your kids can understand that kind of movie, then you can have a lot of fun watching it together.
You mentioned cameos. Who all is in it? Well, first of all, there are some very interesting actors in non-cameo roles, like Vivica A. Fox (who was in my favorite Scooby Doo series of all time) and, amazingly, Judd Hirsch (playing pretty much his character from Taxi). Then there are the credited cameos, including Judah Friedlander, Downtown Julie Brown, Billy Ray Cyrus, Robert Klein, Matt Lauer, Al Roker (who gets to report on the sharkstorm) and many more. And beyond those are some very special uncredited cameos that I’ve been sworn to secrecy about. Suffice to say, there should be a bingo-card game associated with this movie, for all the cameos.
Is the film scientifically accurate? Well, if you ask Tara Reid, then maybe. If you ask pretty much anyone else, no. No sharks flying for extended periods of time in waterspouts and eating people on airplanes, at baseball games, or on the subway.
It’s set in New York. Did they really go there, or is it just Vancouver-as-New York? Nope, they really shot in NYC. One of the amusing stories around the project is that, while the film is set in the summer (they go to a baseball game), they shot in February, so there’s snow on the ground in certain scenes, and a lot of misty breathing. However, actually being in NYC adds to the movie a lot. In one scene at the Statue of Liberty, I half-expected to see the Tardis.
Sharknado 2: The Second One premieres tomorrow night, July 30th, on the Syfy network.