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Rifftrax Live! Sharknado 2: The Second One (2015)

| July 16, 2015 | 0 Comments

It is difficult to describe the irony of the fact that within the span of one week I’ve seen Jaws and Sharknado 2 on the big screen – a better July at the movies does not reside within my recent memory. If those two movies played on a double bill at a drive-in theater this summer I could die right now.

Having taken the more grounded journey of Spielberg’s breakthrough hit only last week, I guess it is only fitting that I now step into another pop culture phenomenon. Sharknado 2: The Second One is my introduction to this enterprise. That’s right, I am ashamed to admit that I’m a little late to the party (I missed the first one) but I’m happy to say it’s a party that’s alive and kicking. And what a party this is, Sharknado 2: The Second One is a big, beautiful brobdingnagian monstrosity marinated in the deepest and kookiest elements of the B-Movie underworld – and I mean that as a supreme compliment. It does everything that a B-movie is supposed to do and does it right.

The story is beside the point. It’s just a series of cardboard characters who exists just as an excuse for a lot of cheeseball basic cable special effects. What passes for a story finds our hero Fin Shephard (Ian Ziering) headed to New York on board a commercial airliner piloted by Robert Hays. Within minutes, a carcharodon carcharias-laden storm is set into motion. Once it does, the movie gets the ball rolling and doesn’t stop. There’s no time for character development, that’s not what we’re here for. We just want to see flying sharks eat hapless citizens on the streets of New York. Of that, you get your money’s worth.

What makes Sharknado 2 work is that the actors treat their roles with absolute seriousness. Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica Fox, Mark McGrath, Kari Whurer and Judd Hirsh are in the great tradition of all those overblown disaster movies of the 1970s that moved the characters along a ridiculous plot but didn’t make the mistake of allowing them to wink at the camera. The fact that they’re stone-serious makes a ridiculous situation almost credible. If they knew it was a joke, then the scene in which Tara Reid gets a buzzsaw prosthetic hand wouldn’t work at all.

Seeing Sharknado 2 in a theater wasn’t just an excuse to see a cable movie blown up for the big screen. The screening I attended was part of Rifftrax four-movie lineup for 2015 dubbed “The Crappening.” This despite the fact that M.Night Shyamalan’s The Happening is not on the bill (aw!). Instead they’ve stitched together a quartet of bizarre, yet enchanting confections, for your riffing pleasure. Already, they’ve taken on The Room and coming this October they’ll take on a particularly pungent piece of 80s cheese, the motorcycle-ninja-rock-band adventure Miami Connection. Then at Christmas Rifftrax offers up a bizarre 1972 children’s fantasy Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny.

Yet, as funny as the guys from Rifftrax are, the odd thing is that Sharknado 2 was just as funny without their input. Yes, their funny. Yes, I laughed at a lot of their jokes, most especially when Will Wheaton was dispatched by a shark, leading to the comment “Wheaton . . . eaten!” But this is a movie that could be enjoyed either way. I’m happy for the accompaniment, but Sharknado 2 is just as funny without it, proving that some movies need riffing (like Manos, for example) and some don’t.

Yet, to be honest, as much as I enjoyed Sharknado 2, it’s not a journey I’ll take again anytime soon. It’s fun, but it doesn’t exactly bear repeating. Besides, having seen it in a theater with “Rifftrax Live!” accompaniment, it might be difficult to see this on a small screen and enjoy it quite as much. Some experiences don’t bode quite as well with the downgrade.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2015) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy