It’s funny looking back at Sharknado. What was seemingly any other Asylum/Syfy movie became a mini-pop culture phenomenon. A movie that was tweeted about by celebrities, mentions on TV and even a theatrical release. Whether you loved it, hated it or were indifferent you definitely heard about it. Well here we are a year later and Syfy aired Sharknado 2: The Second One. With the hype machine and hash tags at the ready could it live up to its idiotically amazing predecessor or would it flounder like so many other Asylum movies?
It’s a year later and Fin (Ian Ziering) and his ex-wife April (Tara Reid) are heading to New York. Why? To promote their book How to Survive a Sharknado of course. As they go in for a landing their plane is caught in the middle of a Sharknado that kills Wil Wheaton and Kelly Osbourne. This is just the beginning as the unique weather of New York (as in its cold) to create two Sharknados that will tear apart Times Square. Oh and Ian Ziering (lets be honest this is what we’ll be calling him) lands the plane because he can.
I can assure you that it gets much crazier. While it never tops Ziering getting eaten and chainsawing through a shark they try their best in the most ludicrous ways possible. Sharks that were set on fire falling from the sky? Check. Jumping on the backs of sharks ala Frogger? Check. Richard Kind hitting a home run on a shark falling from the sky? We have that too. As silly as all of this is it’s the kind of stupidity that made the first movie so fun. This is good because the actual comedy and writing is pretty awful this time around.
Saying an Asylum movie has awful writing is pretty obvious. No what I’m referring to is how self-referential and winking at the audience is done. While this was done in the original there was still a story, as stupid as it was, being told. There was a “we’re taking this seriously” vibe this one lacks. Too often the intentional stupidity feels forced. With everybody and their mother in on the joke the punch lines don’t land as much. Or at all when it comes to things like the celebrity cameos. The cast is rounded out by a who’s who of C/D list celebrities that couldn’t make it onto season 57 of The Apprentice. Everyone from Andy Dick to Al Roker make appearances. Which would be great if they were used right like Robert Hays (Airplane!) playing a pilot early in the movie. But why cast Billy Ray Cyrus if you aren’t going to have him get eaten? Or hiring former WWE/Olympic wrestler Kurt Angle if he isn’t going to give a shark the Angle Slam? It sure isn’t for his “New York accent.” At a certain point it becomes more distracting than clever.
That isn’t to say all of the casting is bad. Perennial rich friend Ian Ziering continues to be perfect as Fin. Riding the fine line between serious and parody he is the perfect lead for this kind of monster movie. Tara Reid is the only returning cast member who is great for all the wrong reasons. While we know she isn’t Meryl Streep her wooden acting is perfect for this kind of movie. With Kari Wurher and Vivica A. Fox putting in acceptable performances the last bit of WTF casting is Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath. As Martin, Fin’s childhood friend, I couldn’t help but stare at the dude. What the heck happened to your face? Does being a TV presenter require annual face lifts? Was there some kind of protective plastic cast over his face? I know this is just mean critiquing but this is all I could focus on. I don’t know maybe middle aged women like the look.
Sharknado 2: The Second One is trying. Maybe a bit too hard. When the movie works it really works. Seeing the head of the Statue of Liberty seemingly chasing down people or giant killer alligators appear for no reason is great fun. But more often than not it feels like they’re a bit too in on the joke and winking at the audience a bit too much. I can’t believe I’m saying this but maybe the Sharknado franchise (Yeah it’s becoming a franchise) would benefit taking the story a bit more seriously. Or at least kill off more has been celebrities.