"Jersey Shore Shark Attack" (2012) Movie Review
"JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK" (2012) - Directed by John Shepphird
***NOTE: Mild Spoilers May Follow***
The inexplicable success of MTV's "reality" show Jersey Shore proved to be a blessing and a curse to my (mostly) beloved home state of New Jersey. On the upside, the program's popularity gave a boost to tourism in Seaside Heights (where the show was filmed) which therefore helped the Garden State's perpetually-ailing bottom line. On the other hand, the show helped to perpetuate a stereotype that everyone from New Jersey was an out-of-control, party obsessed, drunken a**hole. I've lost count of how many times I've had to explain to an out-of-stater who brings up the show, "We're not ALL like that." (I should point out here that many of the Jersey Shore cast members weren't even Jersey natives; they merely came to visit the Shore on weekends from the surrounding areas. Around here, we call such folks "bridge and tunnel trash!") Like many native Garden Staters, I breathed a sigh of relief when the show was mercifully cancelled in late 2012.
The innate silliness of the Jersey Shore phenomenon naturally made it ripe for parody, and at the height of the show's popularity, someone at SyFy got the genius idea of combining Jersey Shore with their seemingly endless series of Z-grade shark-attack films (see: Spring Break Shark Attack, Sharks in Venice, Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus, Malibu Shark Attack, Shark Attack 1, 2, and 3, Swamp Shark ...need I go on?). The result was the 2012 SyFy Original Movie, Jersey Shore Shark Attack... a hilarious takeoff on not only the MTV series, but of Jaws and shark flicks in general. In other words..."Ayyyy yo, this is how we do a shark movie in Seaside, baby! Capiche? Fist pump!"
The July 4th weekend is rapidly approaching in Seaside Heights, and in our opening scene we witness some underwater drilling at a construction site run by a stuffed shirt named Dolan (William Atherton, aka "Dickless" of Ghostbusters fame), who plans to erect a massive country club and golf course complex right on the beach. The vibrations from the massive drills attract a herd of sharks from somewhere in the mysterious depths, and they make short work out of an unlucky fisherman and a pair of young lovers who picked the wrong place for a romantic swim. We are then introduced to our main cast, all of whom are not-very-subtle analogues to characters on a certain MTV program - "T.C." (Jeremy Luc), who goes by the nickname "The Complication" (because when girls see his six pack abs, "things get complicated"), Donnie (Joey Russo) and dim-bulb wanna-be Paulie Balzac (Daniel Booko) -- who isn't even Italian, but embraces "the Guido lifestyle" -- are over-muscled, heavily tanned and hair-gelled doofuses who share a Shore house and would like nothin' better than to get down to some serious partying with their "Guidette" pals "Nooki" (Melissa Molinaro), BJ (Audie Resendez) and J-Moni (Alex Mariello). Unfortunately, T.C. and Nooki have recently gone through a nasty break up, providing the flick's necessary romantic drama. Worse, the boys quickly run afoul of some odious preppies - Dolan's son Bradford (Grant Harvey) and his sneering pal Spencer (Dylan Vox), which leads to a barroom brawl that lands T.C. on the bad side of his police officer father, Captain Moretti (Jack Scalia). When the boys' Guido pal "J.P." mysteriously disappears, they take it upon themselves to investigate, and soon they discover a chewed-up corpse washed up on the rocks. Spying multitudes of shark fins in the water, the gang rushes to alert the proper authorities, but as anyone who's seen "Jaws" will know, their warnings will be ignored until more beach bums and bunnies meet gory deaths. Eventually a boardwalk concert by former N-Sync'er Joey Fatone ends in tragedy (Fatone either has a great sense of humor, or he needs to get a new agent!!), and a single shark is soon caught, prompting Mayor Palantine (Academy Award winner Paul Sorvino, dropping in for a quick paycheck) to declare the emergency "over" and announce that the July 4th festivities will go on as planned. This, of course, will prove to be an astoundingly bad idea. (Cue Jaws theme...)
Sharks 'N The Shore...
It's Chompin' Time...
Soon the feeding frenzy is on in earnest and lots of scenes of Scalia and his deputies screaming "GET OUT OF THE WATER!" ensue. As chaos reigns, T.C. and the boys mount a rescue mission to save Nooki, who has unwisely accepted an invitation to join Bradford and the preppies on a yacht cruise. Bradford's yacht is soon under siege by sharks, but fortunately T.C. and his boys arrive in the nick of time, well armed with heavy artillery and a harpoon gun passed down to them by bar owner Captain Sallie (Tony Sirico of Goodfellas and The Sopranos fame), whose grandfather used it to take down some man-eaters during an earlier, legendary Seaside Heights shark frenzy way back in 1916. Will that harpoon gun be called into play at the most crucial moment? Will Nooki be rescued and make up with T.C.? Will T.C.'s heroism help repair his troubled relationship with his father? Do I have to draw you a picture? Bada-BING, baby!
Summin' It Up...
Make no mistake, Jersey Shore Shark Attack is ridiculous, but I mean that in the nicest possible way. Fans of the MTV show will get a kick out of seeing their favorite reality show parodied, while the show's detractors (which include this writer) will also enjoy watching the stereotypical beach-bums acting like idiots and getting munched by the bucketload. The sharks are rendered in unimpressive CGI, which is not exactly a surprise, though honestly I've seen far worse in other SyFy movies. The acting performances are about as good as you'd expect from a film of this caliber, though I must give special mention to Melissa Molinaro, who portrays "Nooki" ... simply because she's WAY better looking (and far less annoying) than her counterpart on the "real" show. Speaking of which, a real live Jersey Shore cast member - Vinnie Guadagnino - got in on the Shark Attack fun by making numerous appearances in this flick as a newscaster who advises viewers to "Stay out of the water, bro's!"
Jersey Shore Shark Attack didn't do much to repair the Garden State's already-battered public image and it certainly didn't win any Oscars, but it definitely has the potential to become a cult classic down the road. It made this jaded Jerseyan critic laugh his head off, and that's the highest compliment I can give it. Jersey Shore Shark Attack still gets repeated fairly regularly on SyFy (usually during their weekend creature-feature movie marathons) and it is also available on DVD and Blu-Ray.. B-Movie fans, give it a try. This one has bite!!
© 2012 Keith Abt