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DVD Reviews for 3/17: Special Spring Break Shark Attack Edition

by Peter Sobczynski

In which your faithful critic drools over some comely Irish lasses, extolls the virtues of the best film of 2005 and finally breaks down and pens a few words on one of the biggest pieces of crap to ever appear on television (non-Matt LeBlanc-related division)

The fact that “Spring Break Shark Attack,” the cheesy TV movie that became an instant camp classic when it appeared on the tube almost exactly one year ago this week, is now available on DVD for anyone with $14.95 and the nerve to buy it in public to watch over and over again is frankly kind of stunning. Then again, I never would have expected that a major network like CBS would have had the cajones to produce and broadcast it in the first place–this is the kind of film that even the Sci-Fi Channel might have had quality-control issues with–so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that they believe that there is actually an audience waiting out there to purchase it. The sad and tragic thing is that they are probably right and it may well turn out to be a weirdo cult success after all.

Just in case you happen to pick up this movie on the assumption that it will be a serious and sober investigation of the tragedies that can occur when spring breakers at a Florida beach (unconvincingly portrayed by South Africa, a fact slightly suggested by the mountains that can often be seen in the background) are suddenly attacked by a gazillion tiger sharks, the opening scene should dissuade you from that notion. In it, a group of women, whom I believe are supposed to suggest the Desperate Housewives (which the filmmakers cunningly suggest by having the women refer to themselves as “housewives” and “desperate” while saying a toast to their dead fellow housewife), are attacked and killed by a group of sharks for no other reason than to allow the film to thumb its nose at its time-slot rival. It turns out (SPOILER WAR–oh who cares?) that failing resort owner Bryan Brown (apparently having come to the conclusion that “F/X 3" just ain’t happening) is trying to lure business back to his part of the beach by luring sharks to the new hot spot by throwing chum in the waters. He probably would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for a group of meddling kids, led by smart girl Shannon Orico, who figure out his scheme and manage to save the day, after the inevitable sequence of extended carnage, of course.

The problem is that even the most addled spring breakers are unlikely to return to the beach after seeing their pals chomped up by what appears to be a couple of hundred sharks, so the filmmakers have to delay the title attack for as long as possible in order to stretch the story out to fit a two-hour time slot. Although there is the occasional brief attack, most of the first three-quarters of the film is dedicated to such subplots as the smart girl quarreling with her overprotective dad, a couple of caddish date-rapists and an idiot who is trying to film his own version of “Girls Gone Wild” but who inexplicably turns the camera on himself to gloat at the exact moment when the bikini tops are coming off. As a result, watching the film at times feels like trying to watch a TV-edited version of “The Real Cancun” while someone keeps switching the channel to “Jaws” (okay, “Jaws 3-D”) every twenty minutes for a moment or two.

As a result, much of “Spring Break Shark Attack” is boring but I can still confidently recommend it to fans of ludicrous camp extravaganzas because it does contain more than its fair-share of jaw-dropping moments, the kind that almost make the “Desperate Housewives” bit look staid by comparison. There is the part where the smart girl, under the influence of a roofie, calls her dad, who doesn’t know that she has snuck away to “Florida,” just so that he can appear on the beach during the tearful reunion at the end. There is the sight of a half-eaten sea turtle that looks like something out of a remedial art class. There is the ludicrous sight of two CGI shark fins literally passing through each other thanks to the shoddy special effects. There is the moment when a guy actually parasails right into the waiting jaws of one of the sharks. Best of all, there is the moment where one of our heroes is shot through the arm with a spear and the smart girl decides that, instead of breaking it in half, the best way to remove it is to simply pull it out backwards so that the arrow point can do even more damage. (You have to admire a film where even the Smart Girl is dumber than a bag of hammers.) If the mention of any of these elements has brought a smile to your face, rush out and get this DVD (which, tragically, is as bare-bones as they get–a bummer for those hoping for a Bryan Brown commentary track) as soon as possible–I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

Written by James LaRosa. Directed by Paul Shapiro. Starring Shannon Lucio, Riley Smith, Justin Baldoni, Kathy Baker and Bryan Brown. 2005. Unrated. 88 minutes. A Paramount Home Video release. $14.95,


ANASTASIA-FAMILY FUN EDITION (Fox Home Entertainment. $19.98): After all, nothing screams “family fun” like the Russian Revolution, especially in a film that posits that it was caused, if I recall this silly 1997 animated musical correctly, by Rasputin and a cartoon bat. Buy your kids a copy of “Sympathy for the Devil” instead–it tells a more accurate version of the story and the music is better to boot.

THE CORRS-LIVE IN GENEVA (Rhino Home Video. $19.98): Instead of spending St. Patrick’s Day stuck in a crowded bar watching short-hitters desecrating their shoes with recycled green beer, I’d prefer to sit at home and watch the lovely Corr lasses (yeah, there’s a brother in there as well) blast through a set of their catchy pop tunes (including tin whistles solos) for an appreciative Geneva crowd.

DEBBIE DOES DALLAS UNCOVERED (New Video Group. $19.95): Like “Deep Throat,” the other porn title known even by those who don’t watch such things, this infamous 1978 bit of hard-core nonsense has received the documentary treatment in a film that looks back at the controversy surrounding it (including the lawsuit filed by the Dallas Cowboys) and attempts to discover what happened to star Bambi Woods, who seemingly disappeared after its release.

DEUCE BIGALOW: MALE GIGOLO-LITTLE BLACK BOOK EDITION (Touchstone Home Entertainment. $19.98)[/i[: In what could well be the single most terrifying DVD bonus feature ever created, this reissue of the terrible 1999 Rob Schneider comedy includes a collection of deleted scenes. That’s right–scenes that were deemed to be not good enough to appear in “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.”

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (Warner Home Video. $28.95)
: Though my occasional jibes at “Crash” winning Best Picture might suggest that I was squarely in the “Brokeback Mountain” camp, my theoretical vote would have gone to George Clooney’s highly impressive and gripping look at Edward R. Murrow (a great David Strathairn performance) and his war of words with Joseph McCarthy that spilled out onto the nation’s airwaves in the 1950's.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (New Line Home Video. $28.98): Of course, if I actually had the chance to vote for the Oscars, I probably would have written in this brilliant, scary, darkly funny and thought-provoking work from David Cronenberg, by far his best and most consistent work since “Videodrome.” The disc contains an incisive Cronenberg commentary, a making-of documentary that is better than the usual fluff and even a deleted scene or two. However, it doesn’t include an explanation as to why Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen (as the seemingly normal small-town guy whose long-buried past comes back to haunt him) and Maria Bello (as the wife who discovers to her horror that she really doesn’t know a thing about the man she married) were somehow overlooked for what should have been much-deserved Oscar nominations. (On the other hand, William Hurt did get a nod for his brief and freaky turn that may well be the best ten minutes he has ever spent on screen.)

THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO (Dreamworks Home Entertainment. $29.99): Julianne Moore goes trolling for an Oscar nomination in a dreadfully misconceived biopic about a 1950's housewife who keeps her ten kids and drunken idiot husband (Woody Harrellson) afloat with the winnings she earns from a never-ending series of jingle contests. Even if “Freedomland” had come out last year like it was supposed to, this still would have been Moore’s worst film of 2005.

SHE SPIES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON/V.I.P.: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (MGM Home Entertainment/Sony Home Entertainment. $39.95/$49.95): Two contemporary riffs on “Charlie’s Angels,” featuring semi-ironic humor, plenty of explosions and fabulous-looking babes, make the journey from syndication to DVD with season sets. Though there is no real difference between the two, I would say that “She Spies” has the hotter lead (Natasha Henstridge vs. Pamela Anderson), “V.I.P.” has the hotter supporting cast and being caught with either on my shelf would cause me wild embarrassment.

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originally posted: 03/17/06 15:55:03
last updated: 04/24/07 08:44:49
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