When a shark plummets to earth, landing in President Lincoln’s sculpted lap, you can’t help but wonder if The Great Emancipator could’ve saved us from this as well.
So too, should Sharknado 3 be memorialized. It really is one for the ages, a cynical waterlogged stinker.
On this site, we’ve reveled in bad cinema. We’ve been charmed by Manos: The Hands of Fate. We’ve been oddly fascinated by John Travolta’s edifying spiels about “leverage” in Battlefield Earth, a film we’ve been both defended, even if our arguments aren’t buttressed with anything you might call solid facts. (As Mark Twain said, it’s important to get your facts straight so you can distort them as you please).
But make no mistake about it; the facts are that Sharknado 3 is an abomination.
Ian Ziering is Fin again, our indefatigable weather systems Paul Revere, warning the masses about the pitiless portmanteau that is sharks and tornadoes. He furrows his brow mostly, exhibiting none of the natural charm he oozed on 90201.
If you’ve ever wanted to see libertarian pundit Ann Coulter catch a wave atop a makeshift surfboard portrait of George Washington, you’re Ann Coulter. Or Thunder Levin. That’s the actual name (or the nom de plume) attached to this script. The late boxer Arturo “Thunder” Gotti earned that moniker, providing the sweet science with some of most thrilling fights in a generation. Someone should’ve thrown in the towel in this installment of Sharknado, as dull and devoid of interest as any film that’s ever been made.
It’s an amazing accomplishment that for a movie which went to great lengths to insert cameos of anyone who’s ever skirted along the margins of show business success — that none of these should produce even the tiniest, most fleeting speck of inspiration.
In the spirit of the lazy tenor that produced Sharknado 3, this reviewer is avoiding IMDb cast listings and operating solely from memory re: those cameos: There’s Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban, who, had he been pitched this as a venture capital play would’ve sent Sharknado’s producers away empty handed. He plays POTUS and offers Obama bromides about “beacons of hope.” Abandon all of it ye who enter here.
WWE wrestler Chris Jericho runs an amusement park ride. A send-up of the carnival world he occupied in tights? No, no reference made. He’s just there to be there even if he’s the gold standard of silver-tongued charmers at his day job. Few wrestlers apart from The Rock are as charming on the mic working a crowd. Jericho utters about three sentences here, one of which is calling out to someone who’s lost their cellphone.
The cast of The Today Show is eaten by sharks, perhaps a protracted metaphor for the obsolescence of morning television in the age of the web. In a baffling bit of casting, there’s two blink-and-you’ll-miss-him (a temporal approximation of his staying power, pop culturally speaking) of the human straight-man, disgraced congressman/pun meme Anthony Weiner.
Add to that the co-founder of reddit, Alexis Ohanian (why?). There’s Lou Ferigno, as a charming think tank lobbyist (just kidding, hired muscle), Kathie Lee Gifford and whoever that is who drinks wine with her, the Sugar Ray singer guy, and the ubiquitous Hoff, the quintessence of cheese, who’s a NASA bigwig who seems bored here. As well he should.
There’s a long tradition of disaster movies featuring alphabet-defying celebrities and D-listers making a living running away from building fires, floods, and avalanches. This peaked in the 70s with the likes of Airport, The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure — you could go on.
What separates Sharknado is its utter dourness, joylessness, cynicism, poor cinematography, lazy performances, and poor script. It looks and feels awful in every frame. It’s quite simply unbearable. We reluctantly grant it one star for some inspired opening credits and 30-seconds of amusement park-related sharky fun.
When principals hoist an Iwo Jima flag for a shark shish kabob, or one character claims they’ve experienced “PTSD: post traumatic shark disorder,” part of you dies inside. There are some species of shark that must swim constantly to process oxygen over their gills, or they’ll expire. Please stop swimming (and flying) Sharknado.
* (out of 5)
[Please see our list of the WORST HORROR FILMS OF 2015]