A few years ago, longtime readers may vaguely recall, I piggybacked on Discovery’s Shark Week with a week’s worth of shark movie reviews. Due to no popular demand, and because I’ve long since run out of ideas, it’s time to do it again!
No cable network has feasted on sharks quite like Discovery, but SyFy must be the (distant) runner-up. The “originals” division of the annoyingly-spelled science fiction channel has been churning out cheaply-made shark movies for years now, and they don’t come much cheaper than Jersey Shore Shark Attack.
There was an actual Jersey Shore shark attack in the summer of 1916, when what is believed to have been a rogue great white killed four swimmers and seriously injured another. The incident was the inspiration for a little-known ’70s shark movie called Jaws, but although it’s referenced in Jersey Shore Shark Attack, this is not a Boardwalk Empire-style docudrama based in truth. Rather, it’s a contemporary, tongue-in-cheek tale of tanned, greasy, fist-pumpin’ young people saving their town from an invasion of albino sharks.
Yes, as you might have guessed from the first two words in the title, the movie is a broad parody of The Jersey Shore, featuring characters named The Complication, Nooki, and J-Moni, with a dash of The Sopranos for added bada-bing (Tony “Paulie Walnuts” Sirico is on hand as bar owner Captain Sallie). Shoreline drilling on the construction of a new luxury resort has the unintended effect of luring a pack of badly-rendered CGI sharks to the beaches of New Jersey. A group of self-proclaimed guidos with few interests aside from A.S.S. – alcohol, sun and sex – are the only ones who believe the waters are shark-infested, even after body parts start washing up on shore. JSSA rips off the entire Jaws plotline about the mayor keeping the beaches open on the 4th of July weekend, although this mayor, played by Paul Sorvino, doesn’t have nearly as snazzy a jacket collection as Amity’s Mayor Vaughan.
The mayor can’t close the beaches because of the big 4th of July concert featuring Joey Fatone, formerly of N Sync (which is how he’s introduced at least three times throughout the movie). The trailer above gives away the movie’s best gag, although it’s a joke any of us would pull if we had “special guest star Joey Fatone” in our shark movie – give him the Deep Blue Sea treatment. Still, credit Fatone for being a good sport, at least.
Other than that, the humor rarely approaches the level of parody found in vintage issues of Cracked. The thrills are nothing to write home about either; I’ve seen more convincing sharks doodled on cocktail napkins. Jersey Shore Shark Attack does feature a stirring monologue by Tony Sirico about the real 1916 attack, just in case you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to replace Captain Quint with Paulie Walnuts. And you know you have.
– Scott Von Doviak