This could get me in a lot of trouble with some of my movie loving friends and even people in general who just love harmless, dumb fun. I’m going to criticize the “Sharknado” films.
Making fun of the “Sharknado” movies is dangerous territory. So it feels like critiquing a toddler who plans to enter a MMA fight with Chuck Liddell. You know it’s going to be ugly but you’ll be dammed if you’re not going to watch it until the very end.
It’s difficult to criticize because it’s just trying to deliver joy and that gives it the appearance of innocence. It can’t be critiqued like a traditional, big budget action epic. Such a movie would be overkill. Just making fun of the style and delivery of “Sharknado” or “Sharknado 2” feels inherently mean like Rex Reed calling the failed nuances and missed cues of a 3rd grade musical recital “the reason that there’s so much evil in the world.”
The SyFy Channel movies in general are the kind of mindless, violent fun that movie goers have craved since the first line of celluloid rolled off the assembly line. They are the diabetes inducing, sweet stuff of cinema. They don’t dick around with healthy ingredients like strong plots, heady characters and realistic special effects. Blood, gore and body parts make up the bulk of the recipe. They’re the Arby’s of movies.
I enjoyed watching both the “Sharknado” movies for the same reason anyone else would. They’re loud. They’re dumb. They’re obnoxious. They give you something to talk back to on the screen as if you’re sitting in a darkened theater on the outer edges of space with Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. They are begging to be made fun of because they are so gleefully bad and the people who make them don’t care if you think they’re good or not. It’s not made for critics. In fact, it’s made just to spite them. It’s made for the movie goer who just wants one movie where they cut out all the BS of movie making that people like Michael Bay and Brett Ratner shove into their movies in the hopes of being seen as something more than cinematic Viagra.
The part that bugs me is when some fans put them in the “so bad that it’s good” category of movies. Yes, your chances of seeing “Sharknado” pick up an Oscar nomination are about as good as Pauly Shore getting a Pulitzer Prize for commentary. However, “so bad that it’s good” is a very narrow category and “Sharknado” and “Sharknado 2” don’t belong in it.
Visionaries like Edward D. Wood Jr., and M. Night Shyamalan are pioneers of the genre of the “good bad movie” because they actually set out to make a good movie. They had every intention of bringing the public something that they thought they wanted to see and failed miserably over and over again. The “Sharknado” films know that they are dealing with a ridiculous premise and an audience that wants hokey dialogue and a complete disregard for the laws of physics and they succeed because they give them exactly what they want. They are the parents in the grocery stores who get their kids to stop pitching a fit in the cereal aisle by shoving a funnel in their mouth and pouring down all the Waffle Crisp their tiny stomachs can hold.
Take, for instance, the king of the “so bad it’s good” movies, Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” It has a slightly more complicated premise (which isn’t saying much) about a race of aliens hoping to enslave Earth by enlisting an army of the dead (aka three people who look like they came from any swap meet in America) but it fails even harder than “Sharknado” because it fails on just about every level. Scenes switch from night to day in the blink of a frame. The scenery is cheap and flimsy. The dialogue sounds like it was written by one of Sarah Palin’s joke writers and they are delivered as if the lines are still written on their hands. For all of its faults and cringe inducing moments, it becomes good because you can tell that Wood tried to make the best movie he could with the low resources and talent that he had. We take a shine to it because we can’t hate the guy for at least trying to go after his dream.
It’s hard to imagine the people who made “Sharknado” of having the same kind of dream. Sure, they want success and a foothold in pop culture like any artist but it’s hard to imagine that anyone would hope that their magnum opus would be a movie about a shark storm starring one of the guys who barely anyone remembers used to be on “Beverly Hills 90210.” If they did, then Michael Bay’s entire career and Arby’s would make a lot more sense to me.