ARO Entertainment/SyFy. Director: John Shepphird.
Creature Feature Bleachers Award: Most Annoying Characters.
You probably saw an ad for this movie and assumed it would be a source of highly cathartic and bloody glee. I hate to crush your hopes, but “Jersey Shore Shark Attack” does not star the actual cast of “Jersey Shore,” nor does it offer the chance to see any of their stand-ins being eaten by sharks. I’m sure that many of you must feel disappointed to hear this, but even a complete “Jersey Shore” novice like me shares in your pain. Though I’ve never seen the show, five minutes of this film was enough to convince me that I want all of them to be eaten by sharks, and quickly. I mean, long-time aficionados of The Creature Feature Bleachers know that sharksploitation films rarely have lovable characters, but this is ridiculous! How often do you start rooting for the sharks before the film even begins?
In the town of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, tensions flair between the “guidos” and the country club set. The rich people want to change the area into a nice leisure area, but the guidos were there first and want to keep things as they are. Alas, internal discord rends the guido camp asunder, as Nooki (Melissa Molinaro) leaves TC (“The Complication,” Jeremy Luke) after finding him with another woman. Things take a turn for the worse when some preppy kids chase a guido into the water and sharks eat him. The gang has to get it together in order to rid Seaside Heights of the sharky threat. But could Mr. Dolan’s (William Atherton) plan to gentrify the beach be drawing the very sharks that are terrorizing it?
In all fairness to this film, I don’t know very much about “Jersey Shore,” nor do I care to. I probably missed out on a lot of parody humor that would have regular “Shore” fans slapping their thighs and guffawing till tears streamed down their cheeks. As an example of my ignorance, I could not for the life of me figure out why they got such a horrible actor to play the news reporter. This guy says his lines with as much realism as Andy Kaufman sings “It’s a Small World.” Turns out, they got an actual “Jersey Shore” cast member, Vinny Guadagnino, to play the role. How was I to know?
Although killer albino sharks are ostensibly the threat in this film, the plot really centers around a perceived conflict between Italian-Americans and gentrification. In the movie, rich people plan to buy up the shore, build some nice buildings, and turn the area into a great vacation spot, while the guidos want to hold onto the little town that their ancestors built. For me, this supposed conflict is a non-starter. Both sides are insufferable jerks throughout the film, so I don’t really give a shark’s tooth about who ultimately wins. If anything, the preppy kids are better dressed and have wittier insults. I think the movie was trying to make some sort of a point about community or something, but the message that comes across is, “lower-class superficiality is better than upper-class superficiality.”
“Jersey Shore Shark Attack” also presents an apparent reversal of the “traditional” Italian-American integration model. The kids are far more Italian (or at least more “guido”) than the adults. Their accents are thicker and they identify more strongly with their Italian roots than their parents do. Furthermore, the adults actually play important roles within the community: TC’s dad (Jack Scalia) serves as sheriff, and Captain Salie (Tony Sirico) operates the most popular seaside bar in town. As far as I can tell, the kids don’t contribute anything to anything (which is, I suppose, typical of kids). Still, it’s strange to see a depiction of the younger generation being less integrated into wider society than the generation that preceded them.
Perhaps the single greatest part of “Jersey Shore Shark Attack” is the cameo by former ‘N Sync member Joey Fatone. Fatone knows he is the biggest celebrity they could get for the least money, and that’s fine by him. In his 75 seconds of screen time, he delivers a more enjoyable performance than all of the other characters throughout the rest of the film. It’s true that I tend to favor self-deprecatory humor, but Fatone nails it.
“Jersey Shore Shark Attack” contains one of the worst massacres I’ve ever seen in a sharksploitation film. In the climax, the guidos mercilessly discharge their firearms into a school of sharks. This is meant to validate their machismo, but when you stop to consider the facts, it’s kind of sad. First and foremost, the guidos know that a massive drill is drawing the sharks, and that shutting off the drill will send the sharks back to the ocean floor. Second, these are essentially normal sharks, not savagely aggressive mutants like we sometimes see in this kind of movie. Thus, allowing the sharks to return to nature would pose no special threat to humankind. Third, 100 million sharks were killed by humans in 2012, while only 11 humans were killed by sharks. Surprising and extremely unbalanced. Fourth, I would much rather spend 90 minutes watching the sharks than the humans.
The trailer captures the high caliber of the film:
“Jersey Shore Shark Attack” is available on Amazon.