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Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015)

| July 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

It’s been quite a month. First I had the pleasure of seeing Jaws in the theater, then Sharknado 2 with the “Rifftrax Live!” treatment. Add to that Ant-Man, the Minions and finally seeing the new Star Wars trailer in a theater and you might say I’ve had a July to remember. Now it comes to an end with Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, not a bad movie as these things go, but not as spectacular as I might have hoped.

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! doesn’t have the same energy at its predecessor, actually it’s a step down if that’s possible. It’s hard to love it, but even harder to hate it. It has a spectacular opening, and a spectacular third act, but it suffers from a mid-section that’s kinda blah. Last week when I attended the “Rifftrax Live!” edition of Sharknado 2 in a theater, I recall that the movie seemed to be a roller coaster that got rolling five minutes in and didn’t stop until the closing credits. That may have something to do with the audience and/or the riffing, but I remember the movie being a party. This one doesn’t feel as much like a party, it’s actually slower and centers less on the sharks and far too much on grandiose dialogue.

A plot description is beside the point, but for completion sake here goes: Fin (Ian Zeiring) arrives in Washington D.C. after his heroism in New York to be honored by the President (Mark Cuban) with the single goofiest award you’ll ever see given by a chief executive (I won’t spoil it). No time is wasted on the grey-skinned menace reigning down on the nation’s capitol, and Fin finds himself fighting alongside the President right there in the hallowed halls of the White House. The President’s proclamation: “Not in MY house!”

Unfortunately, that’s just the first 15 minutes. The White House stuff is pretty much done after that. The rest of the movie finds Fin battling his way across the country where pregnant April (Tara Reid) and her mother May (Bo Derek) are attending Universal Studios Orlando. Oh no, they don’t just attend the park – they take us with them. Virtually 60% of this movie takes place in and around the park and we get to see all the key attractions. In fact, the park (where I spent part of my honeymoon) is almost another character.

I don’t see this as a flaw, if anything its part of the charm. One of the things I loved about the previous film was how shamelessly it used it’s cheap plugging for any and every real-world product it could cram in. There’s no shortage of that here either. Heck one of the first images in the film is an over-sized sign for “Subway.” The other charming aspect of these films are the cameos. Apparently, these movies are such a gigantic cultural phenomenon that virtually every celebrity wants a walk-on. Here there are no shortage of cameos, and since much of the film’s charm is spotting the famous people hired for a day’s work, I’ll say no more.

What I like about the Sharknado movies is that while they’re willing to kid themselves but they aren’t willing to let the actors wink at the camera. Ian Zeiring and Tara Reid, who have been at the forefront of this pop culture question mark play their roles with absolute seriousness. Their drama is what keeps the movie afloat. If we sensed that they were in on the joke then we wouldn’t work at all. It is their dedication and their conviction that grounds the movie so that the sky-full of sharks seems almost reasonable – in a wacky made-for-basic-cable sort of way.

I wish I had great things to say about this movie. As I said, the opening The White House and the third act are the best parts of the movie – though it ends on a note that I’m not 100% sure how to feel about. It’s the mid-section that doesn’t work. There’s far too much of the actors and not enough of the sharks, and there is a long section during a shuttle launch seems to drag on forever.

I liked a lot of Sharknado 3, don’t get me wrong. It’s decent enough with a fast-forward button to kind to get through all the dry spots, but this is a movie that shouldn’t have dry spots. The previous film was kind of a roller coaster, so what happened here. I don’t want to think that this series is running out of gas, I’d like to think that this was just a lull in what I suspect (actually, what I know) will continue on to Sharknado 4. I look forward to it, but c’mon guys, less talky more sharky.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.