Universal Pictures. Director: Jeannot Szwarc.
Creature Feature Bleacher Awards: At Least It Has The Word “Jaws” In The Title
This blog operates under the assumption that everyone has, at some point in his or her life, seen “Jaws.” Maybe you saw it 37 years ago when it first came out in theaters, maybe you watched it last week with friends, perhaps you’re watching it right now— it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that you’ve seen the movie. “Jaws” has had such a significant impact on Hollywood blockbusters (and the entire sharksploitation genre, of course) that if you’ve never watched it, for the love of Pete, stop wasting time reading this review and go watch it! And just as “Jaws” set the bar for sharksploitation films, so did “Jaws 2” set the standard for mediocre but enjoyable sequels. The second installment in the series isn’t as good as the first film, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some of the other chum that “Jaws” inspired (I’m looking at you, “Tintorera“). For those with sensitive ears, however, I’ll mention that this is a very— shall we say— religious film, in that “Christ” is probably the most frequently-used word.
Four years after the events of “Jaws,” life has begun to settle down on Amity Island. A new resort has just opened up, and things are looking good. After a few mysterious accidents at sea, though, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) begins to suspect that another shark may be plaguing the community. The town council, afraid that news of another shark will scare off vacationers, fires the seemingly paranoid Brody. The chief’s sons Mike (Mark Gruner) and little Sean (Mark Gilpin) also ignore their father’s warnings, sneaking out to go boating with friends. The shark swoops in on the teens, wrecking some of their boats and leaving them helplessly adrift. Brody must take it upon himself to save the kids, but can he defeat the shark?
“Jaws 2” reads like a dysfunctional version of the story of the boy who cried wolf. In the classic fable, a boy plays with the gullibility of his neighbors to the point that they fail to aid him when a real danger presents itself. In the end, the townspeople learn not to trust the boy, and the boy learns not to raise false alarms. The first two “Jaws” films offer a decidedly different moral. In “Jaws,” Brody legitimately warns the town council of an actual shark, but they refuse to listen. In “Jaws 2,” Brody legitimately warns the town council of an actual shark, but they refuse to listen. This doesn’t exactly emphasize the fact that truth-telling will be rewarded, but it does highlight the importance of participating in local elections.
A quaint sort of retro charm hangs about “Jaws 2,” in the same way that “The Poseidon Adventure” is both a wonderful film and yet irrevocably mired in the 1970s. You can’t help but enjoy the Amity High School marching band’s sad attempts to play “Downtown” and “The Girl From Ipanema.” Likewise, I greatly enjoyed the scene in which Mike and Sean play a primitive video game that, as the script describes it, “pings and beeps softly.” Despite these retro elements— as well as dated hairstyles and fashion, of course— “Jaws 2” was actually ahead of its time, in that it contains the first onscreen appearance of Napoleon Dynamite.
Without a doubt, my favorite character in this film is deputy Jeff Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer). When the town council fires Brody, Hendricks reluctantly assumes the duties of Amity Island police chief. Hendricks is very believably inept— while no single thing signifies his incompetence, you know that he would make a terrible police chief. Despite being a relatively young, energetic, likable guy, Hendricks obviously has an old granny side to him as well.
When watching this film, be sure to pay close attention to the scenes of the shark attacking the teens. In the shot below, the now-scarred shark rams into one of the boats. As it does so, its top jaw bends in on itself, contorting under pressure almost as if it were made of rubber. If you take a close look, you’ll also notice that the shark has some sort of prosthetic mouth-opener in his throat. Perhaps he had it installed after receiving those scars.
On a final note, I applaud “Jaws 2” for its use of realistic beach bodies.
The trailer is lengthy but decent:
“Jaws 2” is available on Amazon.