If you're planning to visit New York, be aware that the forecast calls for Sharknado 2: The Second One.
This mega cheese-fest will be best enjoyed with a heaping helping of snacks, and brain checked firmly at the door. It's hard to put a finger on just what makes these low-budget, super-silly films enjoyable. The first Sharknado was a mix of B-movie plot, beautifully earnest acting from the cast (that's really what makes it—a combination of performances, from Ian Ziering selling it, to Tara Reid's wooden delivery of each. and. every. line.), plus laughable but quotable dialogue, like, "I hate sharks." Of course you do, you're in Sharknado!
Just how B-level are we talking? An 18-day shoot for the sequel. This is a notch above student film projects, but just barely. In the original, the effects are clumsy and cheesy, the day-for-night is noticeable, and in one scene where the city of Los Angeles is presumably abandoned (because SHARKS EVERYWHERE), you can clearly see regular old traffic carrying on along the freeway while our heroes recover from a harrowing rescue of a school bus full of kids.
The Syfy Network (U.S.) B-movie revival really took off with Sharktopus (starring Eric Roberts!), but Sharknado truly blew them out of the water when it debuted—thanks in no small part to the Twitter Sharknado of comments unfurling as the movie aired. If you have the luxury of putting your littles to bed and joining in to live tweet the inanity and the hilarity, it only enhances the experience. (During last summer's Sharknado zeitgeist, a local theatre actually screened the movie, during which the modest crowd took to yelling out at the screen, much like a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.)
The real fun of this kind of cheesy movie is gathering some friends (or older kids—there will, for sure, be some cartoon-ish violence, as well as people being chomped on by sharks. And chainsaws—can't leave out the chainsaws), turning up the volume, and laughing and commenting along with our poor, shark-beset heroes.
Sometimes, it's the experience of the movie that makes it great, not a billion dollar budget or critical acclaim—Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One will have neither, but they're definitely an experience.
You can order Sharknado from Amazon.
My review: 4 out of 5
Double feature: Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One air on Wednesday, July 30, on Space Channel in Canada. Set your PVR or watch for rebroadcasts throughout the month.
Instead of chewing on your fingernails, why not try these No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Drops to pop in your mouth during the scary scenes.
Looking for a more family-friendly movie? Check out this review for Planes: Fire & Rescue.
The whole family went to see a matinee of Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue. (In glorious 2D, because have you ever tried keeping the 3D glasses on a 3-year-old?) It was...OK. If you’re looking for an air-conditioned afternoon and a date with a big bag of popcorn, it will certainly do.
As a franchise, Planes isn’t the strongest offering DisneyToons has ever brought us, evidenced by the fact that the original film was meant to be a direct-to-video release. Fire & Rescue is clearly crafted for the theatre experience, with richer colour and the stunning I-can’t-believe-that’s-animated visuals that Disney-Pixar has made a hallmark. But the Planes movies always feel like...kiddie fare.
Fire & Rescue actually moves swifter than its predecessor, and due to a “medical” (mechanical? What’s the right term for anthropomorphized machinery?) issue, our hero from the first film, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), finds himself off the racing circuit and training to be a firefighter in a beautiful wooded national park. This is likely because the supporting characters from the first film were not interesting enough to be more than second banana on this outing.
The new cast includes yet another tough-guy teacher, Blade Ranger (Ed Harris, who can voice the telephone book if he likes), as well as an amusing throwback to a familiar-looking TV show about two police helicopters in California (one voiced by Erik Estrada, hint-hint), which is clearly for those of us who drove the van to the theatre, and not the ones in short pants.
It’s pretty much trope city all the way to the end—lessons are learned, characters evolve, the mighty (but poorly behaved) are put in their places, and after some dramatic tension, the requisite happy ending. No big laughs, nothing memorable, and not even a quotable line! My kids did manage to fight over the tiny Planes figure attached to their drink cups ALL the way home, so if you go, be sure to ask for the exact SAME figure for all the kids.
The 7-year-old’s review: “I liked it. It was better than the first one.”
The 3-year-old’s review: “I don’t like movieeees...can we go home?”
My grade: 2.5 out of 5
Run time: 83 minutes
Looking for more family-friendly films? Check out these Top 5 Retro Classic Family Movies For The Cabin . . . Or Plane, Or Train, Or Living Room.
You’ve been to the beach, the library, ridden public transit for thrills (hey, what thrills a toddler and what thrills you are known to be vastly different things). Most of us will pack up, head out, and make the journey to the cabin, or Grandma’s, or Any Place Besides Home Because The Driving Is Only Really Good Here Three Months a Year.
Despite your best efforts to peel little faces away from blinking screens, you’ll eventually be away from home and hard-up for family-pleasing entertainment on a rainy night or the longest train ride ever.
Here are the TOP 5 crowd-pleasing movies to take with you wherever you go:
1. Jurassic Park
One of the greatest fantasies ever filmed! What if dinosaurs could be cloned back to life and we could visit them in a theme park? What could possibly go wrong? (PG-13, 127 minutes, available on amazon or iTunes)
Semi-scary, somewhat-dated effects of ghosts and a giant marshmallow man for the kids. Innuendo and a love letter to New York for adults. (PG, 105 minutes, available on amazon or iTunes)
3. Back to the Future Trilogy
A few rainy days in a row and the whole trilogy becomes very watchable. And you have to respect a running poop joke that runs for three whole movies. (Part 1: PG, 116 min; Part 2: PG, 108 minutes; Part 3: PG, 118 minutes, available on amazon or iTunes)
4. Toy Story Trilogy
If you don’t know and love Buzz, Woody, and the rest of the gang from Andy’s room . . . go to your room immediately and watch all three of these movies. And don’t come out until you’re finished! (Toy Story: Rated G, 81 minutes; Toy Story 2: Rated G, 92 minutes; Toy Story 3: Rated G, 103 minutes, available on amazon or iTunes)
5. Forrest Gump
Sweet, funny, and quasi-educational, Forrest wanders through 40 years of American History with wonder and a kind heart. (PG-13, 142 minutes, available on amazon or iTunes)
Don’t forget to pack the popcorn!
For a movie-themed snack, try these easy and delicious Clone and Storm Trooper Cupcakes.
Looking to get outdoors? Check out the 10 Easiest Ways To Get Active With Your Kids.