Monday, August 1, 2016

Sometimes What Happens In Vegas Should Definitely Stay In Vegas

There should not be four Sharknado movies. If I want to be 100% honest, there shouldn't be any Sharknado movies. There should be a sequel or some other extension of the Firefly/Serenity universe or another season of Parks and Rec or another Spy movie but that's not how the world works. SyFy has built part of its brand on low budget-ish, oddball "horror/sci-fi/creature/freak weather phenomena" movies (I don't really know how to categorize them) so something like Sharknado was going to happen at some point in our collective history. People like sharks; I don't but people do. People also like escapist television (I really do). It makes sense to combine both of these elements to create the pop culture zeitgeist that is the Sharknado franchise. And so we have Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens. Yes, that's it's actual name.

I try not to read too much about these movies before they happen. I enjoy being surprised by "celebrity" cameos, plot twists, and the inevitable shark-based puns. I'm still waiting for someone to put together the definitive list of ways sharks are killed in the movies. The cameos truly are the best part of any of the movies. My favorites all happened in the second movie; Downtown and Uptown Julie Brown, Biz Markie, and the cast of the Today show. Seriously, watching Matt Lauer kill a shark with an umbrella is the only time I've ever enjoyed watching him on the Today show. I take that back, my favorite cameo was George R.R. Martin in the third installment; he dies like all GoT's fans dreams of him ever finishing the series.

This year, for fun, the wonderful Neek Confessional (aka Jessica) and I decided to include a drinking game in our annual live tweeting/viewing extravaganza. Jessica was smart and took Monday off; I did not (new hires start on Monday so I have to be at work). Here's the game:

Next year, we should change puns to shark jokes but other than that, the drinking game worked well. I think I missed a lot of the cameos because I'm not up on my reality stars and MMA fighters. We also had a question of whether Fin's niece was being pouty or emo. I think we decided on pouty which is not the same thing. I finished my beer and a half and woke up just fine this morning.

So what does Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens have to offer us? We learned the why having the world's largest ball of twine is important. We learned that some things should really stay in Vegas. We learned that marrying into the Shepard family is a poor life choice. We learned that while we were in Kansas, we definitely weren't in Kansas anymore. But most importantly, we learned that you can just throw a word in front of "nado" and you have a new weather phenomena that sounds terrifying - that's what Sharknado 4 gave us. By my count there were 8 types of nadoes in this film: regular sharknadoes, firenadoes, sandnadoes, bouldernadoes, lightningnadoes, lavanadoes, cownadoes, and nuclear sharknadoes. I hope I didn't miss any of them.

Apparently, sharknadoes were not enough. We, and by we I mean the makers of these movies, decided that the only way to up the "suspense" and the action of these movies was to add more types of made up-nadoes because that's how movies work. The cownado was probably the most effective; between Gilbert Gottfried shouting about cownadoes (as he does) and the sharks eating the cows in the cow/sharknado, it was pretty spectacular to watch. The nuclear sharknado at the end of the movie was pretty amazing too. It looked exactly like a nuclear cloud from a 1950s horror movie had a baby with the bomb at the end of the tv movie version of Stephen King's The Stand so vaguely realistic and yet sort of like a child drew it. I feel like that description could describe most of Sharknado 4 but that also seems sort of mean to say out loud.

What did I like about Sharknado 4? I enjoyed many of the cameos this year but admit that I may have missed a lot of them since I'm not as up on my reality show stars as I should be. My favorite cameos included Cheryl Tieg as Fin's mom, Vince Neil as Vince Neil, Alexandra Paul and Gena Lee Nolin as astrophysicists but really there to recreate their famous Baywatch slow motion running, Patti Stanger as a report (asking a matchmaking question of course), Paul Shaffer randomly playing a keyboard during a sharknado attack, and Carrot Top as the most unlucky Uber driver ever. Vince Neil's appearance led to my only excuse to ever tweet about Vince Neil:

PS - the answer is yes except that it won't matter because sharks.

My least favorite cameo was that of Stacey Dash as the mayor of Chicago. Now, if this was 1995 and we were discussing Clueless there would be no problem but it is 2016 and Stacey Dash has become that "celebrity" that needs to go away. I cannot with her. I can suspend my disbelief for literally everything else that happens in Sharknado 4, including that time April used sharks as a makeshift defibrillator, but I cannot and will not accept Stacey as the mayor of Chicago. Somehow this morphs into her being the Wicked Witch (a la The Wizard of Oz) including wearing striped socks AND having a house dropped on her. I get that most of the cast of every Sharknado movie is stunt casting but this just seems so wrong for so many reasons. She does ask the question that plagues these movies "Is Fin responsible for the sharknadoes?" It's a mildly valid question but I don't think we'll ever get the answer to this since it's been asked in three of the four movies without an answer.

We also find out the fate of April. If you remember from Sharknado 3 after she gives birth in the belly of a shark during her reentry into Earth from space (just go with it), April is possibly killed by spacecraft debris. Fans were invited to decided whether April lived or died; I voted firmly on the side of "April should die" because April is the worst. But apparently, the "April should live" camp was more vocal and won. Now, I say she's alive but she's not really. Her mad scientist father, played by Gary Busey (of course), has turned her into a cyborg. Not just any cyborg, a cyborg that somehow has a built-in reference to every sci-fi/fantasy/comic book movie made in the last 30 years. There's definitely a nod to the Star Wars franchise (some on Twitter even referred to her as a Sharknado Jedi - I'm so, so sorry Star Wars fans), there are references to Star Trek, the Terminator series, and at some point, April becomes a weird Iron Man without the suit but with some of the toys. April's entire existence reminds me of that Kristy Swanson movie from the 80s called Deadly Friend; there's something super creepy about her in the entire rest of the movie. Keep in mind that her husband and children all think she's dead so her reappearance as a sharknado fighting cyborg is traumatic to say the least. Her youngest child, the child born in the belly of a shark, refuses to recognize April as his mother. He says a shark is his mom. In fact:

It's not until the entire Shepard family decides to face the nuclear sharknado as a family (because "family rules" as Fin tells us), that Little Gil (seriously) decides Cyborg Mom is okay. He even pulls a chainsaw out of a rock (in a nod to Excalibur) to save his family when they've all been "eaten" by sharks Russian nesting doll style. The youngest Shepard has now battled sharks and won so he's truly one of them.

I'm going to admit that only about 15% of the movie makes any real sense. This sequel was so fast paced and moved through so many states that it was hard to keep up with where the family was, how many cameos I missed (we haven't even discussed Dog the Bounty Hunter and his weird Deliverance-like family of chainsaw aficionados), the "science" of why the sharknado and specifically the nuclear sharknado keep coming back (thanks to Al Roker for the explanation), and why Fin has a niece all of the sudden and she's hanging out with him, base jumping to safety, and generally kicking ass. I have no idea why she's here except that Nova is missing and there has to be a hot woman who's not Fin's daughter or wife because that's how these movies work. I thought it would be Fin's son's wife but she dies, setting us up for the end of the movie and the return of Nova.

Yes, Nova returns at the very end (literally the last 30 seconds) riding on top of the Eiffel Tower. I'm not even joking about this. She's been in Paris, as Fin's daughter so helpfully tells us (or maybe it was the niece). I wanted to believe she was there on vacation and finding her one true love but no, apparently, she's been fighting sharknadoes.

I guess this means there will be a fifth Sharknado movie and it will star Nova. Maybe she only appears in odd numbered movies (she was in the first and third installments). Maybe she (the actor) realized this one was a lost cause and held out for a movie where she is more of a central character. Maybe once and for all she will get her Shepard dude (I'm guessing it will be the older son since that's what the first movie told us would happen). Or maybe the next chapter of Sharknado will be free of the freaking Shepard family and Nova will be able to finally avenge her grandfather's shark attack death in the way she has always shark annihilation.

I'll be here for you because I watch these movies so you don't have to.

Sharknado poster
Drinking game image by Jessica 
Tweet images by me (from my account)
Tweet image from @SharknadoSyFy


  1. Blue-Haired Rob suggested drinking for references instead of puns. Also, while he didn't make that suggestion until the end of the movie, apparently he was yelling "drink!" for references instead of puns for a significant portion of the second half, which is why I drank way more than 1.5 bottles =D
    Cheers to another great Sharknado Party! These movies really shouldn't keep happening, but I do love our Twitter nights!

    1. Maybe Blue-Haired Rob should create our game next year since there clearly will be a next year (5 Sharknado movies seems crazy).

      What else could we live Tweet?