“A film critic reviewing a Sharknado movie is like a food critic reviewing a hot dog.”
That’s what a friend told me after I mentioned that I was writing about something called Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No — and that sounds like a pretty accurate statement, at least at first. Both items, the Sharknado movie and the hot dog, are content to be what they are: disposable, forgettable snacks that might make you happy for a few minutes but don’t really add anything to your quality of life. I sort of agreed with my friend’s assessment that “junk food” and “junk movie” were pretty much the same thing.
And then I remembered that hot dogs are still required to pass an inspection from government agencies—so as to prove that its contents are actually meat-based—whereas movies have no such requirements. Legally speaking, Sharknado 3 does qualify as a movie: but what may look like a “goofball, fun-time, b-movie” actually feels like a bunch of amateurish silliness tossed together in a hurry because it’s easier to produce pop culture nonsense than a half-decent monster movie.
It’s a weird experience for the viewer when a movie is bad on purpose, and this franchise has proven that it’s more than willing to roll around in anything tacky, just so long as we pay attention, clap our hands, and (especially) live-tweet about how dumb the film is. I’ve always loved b-grade monster movies, but there’s something disconcertingly cynical about the “look how stupid this is!” approach to genre filmmaking that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering), a.k.a. America’s most awesomest Sharknado exterminator, is on his way from Washington DC to Orlando, but there are numerous Sharkandoes standing between Fin and his beloved April (Tara Reid). Which means it’s time for more wacky mayhem involving sharks, tornadoes, chainsaws, product placement, and atrocious acting from C-level celebrities. Sharknado 3 is at its best when it sticks with Ziering and his goofy “tough guy with a chainsaw” antics, but unfortunately it jumps all the hell over the place, from random cameos to pointless subplots, with very little in the way of logic, energy, or humor.
There are only so many times you can see a screaming extra get splattered by a falling shark before you start to get bored with the gag. For a movie with such a plainly absurd concept, there are very few actual attempts at comedy. OK, fine. The “sharks in space vs. David Hasselhoff” finale was kinda fun. But the best low-budget b-movies are the ones that aim high, fall short, and earn extra credit for enthusiasm, effort, and sincerity. That’s not what’s I see going on here. It’s not that Sharknado 3 is broad, silly, and absurd: it’s that it’s so cynically, intentionally junky that the whole hollow exercise quickly feels like a waste of time for everyone involved.
Or hey, maybe I’m just too old for this stuff. Maybe there’s something legitimately endearing about this type of ramshackle, goofball, ad-laden, celebrity-obsessed material that I’m missing. Perhaps the already-announced Sharknado 4 will change my mind.
1.5 out of 5 endlessly reheated burritos