Weighty affairs will just have to wait: The inevitable sequel to “Sharknado” airs tonight.
Timing is everything, and the timing couldn’t be better for “Sharknado 2! The Second One.” Ebola outbreaks, continued attacks in Gaza, ever-escalating tensions over Ukraine, adolescent refugees seeking safe haven across our border, a bar fight between Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber. So a movie in which a rain of sharks takes a bite out of the Big Apple? Bring it on.
I was late to the “Sharknado” party, but then, so was much of America. The initial broadcast only netted 1.4 million viewers. But the marketing savvy SyFy cable network took advantage of the perfect social media storm that greeted the film (it generated a reported 5,000 tweets per minute, among them NBC’s Chuck Todd, who tweeted, “I follow about a thousand folks. Every one of them tweeting about ‘Sharknado.’”). The film’s legend and status as America’s go-to guilty pleasure grew with subsequent broadcasts and it became a cultural phenomenon that “Snakes on a Plane” could not achieve. Forbes reports that the movie’s third airing was the charm, attracting 2.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched encore for an original movie in Syfy channel history.
And now, the sequel which reunites the original C-list cast (Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, whose careers were inexplicably given a new lease on life), along with some cheeky celebrity cameos, including Robert Hays, star of the classic disaster film spoof, “Airplane!”, as—what else—a pilot, Matt Lauer and Al Roker, Judd Hirsch, star of the classic sitcom, “Taxi” as –what else—a taxi driver, and Robert Klein as the mayor of New York. “When something bites us, we bite back,” he thunders at one point, according to one of the surprisingly positive reviews “Sharknado 2!” has received.
“A hilarious must-see treat,” says The Tampa Tribune. “Cheesy as ever,” proclaims Variety. I think they meant that as a compliment. “Intends to be nothing more than dumb fun, and it succeeds well enough at that,” observes The New York Times. I think that, too, was meant as a compliment.
I’m violating the comedy rule of three with this next one, but it bears noting. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Really is that much better in a bad way (or that much worse in a good way, depending on your perspective) than the original."
It occurs to me: I somehow have not seen “Schindler’s List,” “12 Years a Slave,” or "Tokyo Story" (third on the august Sight & Sound critics poll of the top 50 films of all time). But I have seen “Sharknado” and will probably be watching the sequel tonight. I’m vaguely embarrassed by that.
Will lightning strike twice for “Sharknado?” Will it become a trilogy? Both questions are welcome distractions from all the terrible problems in the world.
Welcome back, “Sharknado.” Boy, do we need you now.