While the idea of sharks as merciless killers of the sea is older than Shakespeare’s ‘ravin’d salt-sea shark’, the idea that sharks posed a risk to the land-dwelling general population is just over a century old. In 1916, between July 1st and July 12th 1916, five shark attacks occurred along the New Jersey shore which changed the way sharks were viewed in the public consciousness of America and, eventually, the world. The attacks shocked the shark experts of the day, causing them to reevaluate their views on the animals. The media’s reaction was more extreme, creating a hysteria around the idea of the ferocious ‘man-eater’ that would dog the species forever more. The attacks provided inspiration for Peter Benchley’s seminal novel – and Spielberg’s film version – “Jaws”.
This film has absolutely nothing to do with those events*.
As the residents of the New Jersey Shore’s Seaside Heights prepare for the Fourth Of July weekend, vibrations from construction works attract some albino sharks who begin to munch their way through the fake-tanned populace. Even ‘N-Sync’ singer Joey Fatone isn’t spared the indignity of a sticky end and it’s up to ‘The Complication’ (Jeremy Luke) and Nooki (Melissa Molinaro) to help save their town and their friends.
We can tell the sharks are bad guys because they’re albino sharks, very much the antithesis of our perma-tanned protagonists in this well-observed (I assume) parody of MTV’s “Jersey Shore”.
There’s a tacky charm to the shark-fuelled shenanigans that see our self-styled guidos face off against some country club chads for boardwalk supremacy and the affections of Nooki and her friends. The cast is rounded out by some recognisable faces who are either slumming it or just game for a laugh. William Atherton (“Die Hard”, “Ghostbusters”) may have the look of someone who just needed the money but Paul Sorvino and Joey Fatone are just having fun.
There’s plenty of bikini action and playful titillation but no actual nudity and while it’s good fun when it’s riffing on “Jersey Shore” it’s not so amusing when it remembers its meant to be a shark movie. The sharks are ridiculously cartoony and rendered even less threatening by the use of a terrible ‘fish eye’ lens effect.
Gory, goofy, stupid but occasionally sharply funny (hard to beat the very-“Jersey Shore” horror of the guy who gets his abs bitten off by one of the albino sharks), “Jersey Shore Shark Attack” is as authentic as the skin tone of its heroes, and every bit as classy.
* That’s not strictly true, there is an attempt to link the 1916 attacks to the events of the film.