Say no to film

‘Shark­nado 3: Oh Hell No!’ dead in the wa­ter.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE -

The pun is as fit­ting as it is in­evitable, so let's go ahead and get it out of the way: “Shark­nado 3” has def­i­nitely jumped the shark.

It airs to­day at 9 p.m. EDT on Syfy as the latest in what, be­fore now, was set­tling into a muchan­tic­i­pated sum­mer TV rite.

Be­ware: Seek guilty plea­sure else­where.

Two years ago, the orig­i­nal “Shark­nado” film de­picted a weather aber­ra­tion on the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia coast that caused blood­thirsty sharks to cas­cade on hap­less An­ge­lenos. But hunky beach-bar owner Fin Shep­ard (get it?) saved the day with a makeshift shark ex­plo­sion. Both as cin­ema and marine bi­ol­ogy, “Shark­nado” was glee­fully id­i­otic while sink­ing its teeth in the funny bones of ev­ery viewer in its path. A hor­ror spoof fran­chise was born.

For last sum­mer's em­phat­i­cally ti­tled se­quel, “Shark­nado 2: The Sec­ond One,” Fin was back. Again played by “Bev­erly Hills, 90210” alum Ian Zier­ing, he headed to New York for quiet post-shark­nado re­pose with his beloved, April (Tara Reid). But an even big­ger, bad­der shark­nado storm awaited him in the Big Ap­ple, where he ral­lied takeno-guff New Yawk­ers in a feisty coun­ter­strike. “Shark­nado 2” was a hi­lar­i­ous treat.

Now comes the in­cred­i­bly aptly ti­tled “Shark­nado 3: Oh Hell No!”

First prob­lem: the story cen­tres on a big­ger-than-ever shark at­tack along the en­tire east coast.

This sounds epic in the­ory, but in prac­tice only wa­ters down the ac­tion, with Washington quickly left in ru­ins be­fore the may­hem shifts to South Florida and points in be­tween.

Another prob­lem: The film for­got to be funny. Per­haps the most clever touch lam­poons the through-the-gun-bar­rel point of-with which ev­ery James Bond film be­gins (though here, it's through the gap­ing jaws of a shark), but that gag is over in the film's open­ing sec­onds.

As with its pre­de­ces­sors, the film is chock-full of odd-ball guest roles and cameos.

Mark Cuban is fright­en­ingly cred­i­ble as the pres­i­dent, with Ann Coul­ter his vice-pres­i­dent.

Frankie Muniz is on hand, try­ing for and fail­ing at a come­back. (He used to be so cute!)

Other semi-bold-face names in­clude Bo Derek, David Has­sel­hoff, Penn Jil­lette and Teller, Lou Fer­rigno and for­mer Con­gress­man An­thony Weiner, far less con­spic­u­ous here than he used to be on Twit­ter. But this flurry of fa­mil­iar faces seems more forced than funny.

The big­gest short­com­ing: The film and its story seem to have been cob­bled to­gether not to en­ter­tain the au­di­ence, but to serve the var­ied in­ter­ests of Syfy owner Com­cast as a mul­ti­pronged mar­ket­ing as­sault.

As be­fore, this film heav­ily pro­motes Syfy sis­ter net­work NBC.

The shark­nado siege is “cov­ered” by NBC News per­son­al­i­ties Matt Lauer, Sa­van­nah Guthrie and Al Roker. This was funny be­fore, but feels un­com­fort­able now as NBC News strug­gles to re­store its cred­i­bil­ity af­ter Brian Wil­liams' story-fudg­ing fi­asco. Maybe NBC News stars should try keep­ing a safe dis­tance from fish tales.

More brazenly, the film spends lots of time in a cer­tain Florida theme park owned by NBC Uni­ver­sal, which re­sults in “Shark­nado 3” serv­ing less as a com­edy than as a trav­el­ogue for Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Or­lando.

And it doesn’t stop there. The film even jams in a NASCAR event, with which Com­cast has a spon­sor­ship deal.

Packed like sar­dines as they are, the only prod­uct plug miss­ing, it seems, is Fin and April seen back at home en­joy­ing their XFinity ca­ble ser­vice.

Un­like the first “Shark­nado” film, which at­tacked with­out warn­ing, and the sec­ond, an in­stant campy clas­sic, this third out­ing is be­ing hyped as a ma­jor tele­vi­sion event. Far from it. It's prod­uct-place­ment chum. Don't take the bait.

AP PHOTO

In this im­age re­leased by Syfy, Ian Zier­ing por­trays Fin Shep­ard in a scene from “Shark­nado 3: Oh Hell No!” pre­mier­ing tonight.

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