'Sharknado 2': Winner And Still Chomp
I personally was responsible for emotionally bullying at least two of my critic friends into attending the poolside screening of Sharknado 2 that took place at the hotel where press tour happened a couple of weeks ago. I make this confession because we must establish the basic understanding that I am merciless when it comes to attempting to con people into watching extraordinarily silly movies. In fact, I tried, when the first Sharknado was on, to goad the NPR morning news meeting into caring about it ("There's this movie tonight! It is called Sharknado!"), and nobody fell for it. The next morning after Twitter exploded, I strolled into that meeting, boy howdy, and I said, "Now you see." And, of course, I reviewed it in full, because that is the job and I undertake it gladly.*
The first and most important principle for today is that there would be absolutely no point in watching Sharknado 2 on Wednesday night in seclusion. That would be like trying to play racquetball in space. You need to either gather with friends or take to social media to get the full effect, because if you don't, you will be distracted somewhere around the subway sequence by a feeling of "What I am I ... doing?" On the other hand, provided you remain focused on making it a social occasion, you will be distracted instead by one of your friends asking you, in gleeful setup-punch line form, what you think the sharks are going to do when they get to the baseball game. I will not tell you exactly which of my critic friends did this.** I will also not tell you the punch line he had in mind.***
The good news is that even if you did not see the original Sharknado, you can probably figure out the plot of Sharknado 2. There's not too much in terms of complex plotting that will confuse you, and thematically, it's not too hard to figure out that the primary motif is bleeding to death.
The facts in brief: Fin (Ian Ziering) and April (Tara Reid) have become minor celebrities after saving California from the last sharknado, but (spoiler alert) it is possible that they are about to encounter another sharknado ... or 2. After an opening set piece that removes a couple of famous CGI'd heads, the situation continues to deteriorate. And despite the fact that most of this happens during the day and is on opposite a Mets game, the NBC coverage is anchored throughout by Matt Lauer and Al Roker, who appear to be working with a skeletal production staff.
Along the way, yes, there's some biting, and there's some fighting, and there are appearances by a surprisingly large number of famous people in surprisingly witty cameos. (The best moment of the poolside viewing I attended was when someone commented on Twitter with some bafflement that Judd Hirsch had crashed the Sharknado 2 screening, only to be informed that this happened because Judd Hirsch is in fact in Sharknado 2. If you see a list of cameos ahead of time, do not read it. It's much better to let them arrive upon your doorstep.)
The best reason to watch Sharknado 2 is that if you gather with enough people, someone will say something outrageous about what's going to happen next — partly in jest — and it will happen exactly that way. This happened twice with my buddy Alan Sepinwall. He not only predicted the major medical intervention of the film but also called its emotionally climactic beat way ahead of time.
Surprisingly enough, I found that the novelty had not worn off. By which I mean the novelty of watching a movie about weather systems with deadly, bitey, apparently vengeful sharks in them. (They have a taste for blood ... and irony.) Sharknado 2 is not a movie, really; it's an interactive video game called Make The Stupidest Joke First. And because they put the pedal to the metal and go full, screaming, bedazzled monkeypants crazy from beginning to end, it sort of works.
And by "works," I mean "is terrible and yet, in its way, divine," and I could tell you more about what that means, but I would ruin the moment where you will get to yell ... well, again, I really can't ruin it for you. I wouldn't dare.
*Please see all the comments about yesterday's Bachelorette post for the dissenting view that I should be ashamed. I do not rule it out.
**Erik Adams of The A.V. Club.
***"Eat the Mets! Eat the Mets! Step right up and --"
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