Studio: The Asylum/Syfy
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Writer: Thunder Levin
Producer: David Michael Latt
Stars: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, Jaason Simmons, John Heard
A hurricane brings a storm of deadly sharks and wreaks havoc all across Los Angeles.
Everything you’ve heard is true! The poster art is not kidding with its two-word tagline, “enough said!” That is actually one word more than is even necessary, as the one-word title alone already says it all. In fact, this review could get away with using only one word, too. It just has to repeat the name of the movie: “Sharknado.”
Finally, The Asylum puts the brakes on its assembly line of mockbusters, at least temporarily, and puts the team that comes up with its titles to a better use than finding similar sounding names for “Transformers.” If the inventive word “Sharknado” does not already reveal everything there is to know, well frankly, no other words even exist to accurately describe all of the good and all of the bad that the movie encapsulates.
Ian Ziering is the ironically named Fin, a former professional surfer who now runs a beachside bar and grill. His day is about to become more eventful as Hurricane David is approaching the Southern California coastline, and it is bringing every shark in the Pacific Ocean along for the ride. The hurricane hits land and a violent storm rages throughout Los Angeles. And with each crashing tidal wave comes a bloodthirsty shark. Storm drains and waterspouts carry the creatures everywhere and soon, the City of Angels is flooded with more sharks than water.
As the resident hero and all around good guy, it is up to Fin to rescue the estranged members of his family scattered throughout Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley. Along the way, Fin manages to save his friends, strangers, and a stranded busload of schoolchildren, as well. Because when the primary draw of a movie is a whirlwind made of sharks, there is no trope too absurd and no plot device too contrived.
“Sharknado” could have ridden the wave of just its premise all the way to shore, but its characters actually have personalities. The actors play their parts with enough seriousness that the movie is rarely campier than it needs or even wants to be. Jaason Simmons is very likeable as Fin’s friend Baz. And John Heard plays his role as a genuine person, which gives a surprising amount of momentum to scenes of mass carnage. On the other hand, Tara Reid plays a complete drip. Although the blame for that speed bump lies with the script more than it does with her.
Indeed, not all of the characters or “human” moments add up to worthwhile scenes. There actually is a side story about Fin reuniting with his ex-wife, son, and daughter. What better opportunity for that than a shark attack masquerading as a natural disaster? But sometimes “Sharknado” momentarily confuses itself for a tender “movie of the week” with pointless time wasters like Fin’s daughter having a heart-to-heart with the young waitress interested in her father. “Sharknado” knows the monster movie that it really is. Had it dispensed with these side flourishes that grasp at a greater purpose and just fully embraced its true identity in a tight bear hug, it might have been more memorable as a hot mess romp, instead of as an outrageous Twitter sensation.
Consciously or unconsciously, the movie taps into the ability to suspend disbelief when the audience finds an idea to be so insanely fun, that the implausibility is overlooked with a forgiving laugh instead of with an angry sigh. A list of the movie’s most unbelievable events would be as long as a congressional bill on budget reform. But no one would be watching a movie about a shark tornado without willingly overlooking the very ridiculousness of the plot’s existence in the first place.
As a Los Angeles resident, the scene of the landmark Santa Monica Ferris wheel tearing its way down the pier before crashing into a nearby building is absolutely glorious. Knowing where that Ferris wheel is located, I also know that it is geometrically impossible for it to have rolled anywhere close to the straight line depicted. But who cares? Even with cartoonish visual effects, the sight of something like a Great White bouncing into the courtyard of Grauman’s Chinese Theater is just too good to worry about trivial matters like the laws of physics. Or high quality production value, for that matter. Should “Sharknado” become a franchise, and all current indications point to that as highly likely, here is hoping that everyone has a chance to see their hometown ripped apart by raging storms filled with vicious animals.
Naturally, the movie is not intended to be premium caliber. Nor is it necessarily even intentionally made to be “so bad it’s good.” The cast and crew were not under any delusions about what they were creating, and they brought as much dedicated passion to the project as they did an aim to be entertaining. More than anything, the film’s intention is to have and to be fun. And “Sharknado” delivers exactly as much absurd B-movie fun as anyone would expect from a movie about a tornado made of sharks.
Review Score: 75