Friday, July 19, 2013

Pass the (Microwave) Popcorn: Sharknado

What happens when you go to an extraordinary little lab school in New York City in the seventies? 

You get a kick-ass education, of course. But, 33 years later, you get something else too.

Classmate envy.

Okay, I'm no slouch. I've had a good career, built a business, won some awards. I'm a published author. My yoga's improving. I'm happily married and have a teenage daughter of whom I am immensely proud (and justifiably so, if I do say it myself). 

But, just take a look at some of the people I have to compare myself to:

- Two (not one, two) Tony-winning playwright/lyricist/composers
- A (multiple) Emmy-winning actress
- A world-class opera singer
- Countless journalists, authors and educators
- An Olympic athlete
- Doctors and lawyers
- Executives and philanthropists
- More than one rap star
- A U.S. Supreme Court Justice

And now? I've just learned that the brains behind a stunning new film also went to my school. I'm talking about one Thunder Levin, the writer of ...


(How can I possibly compete with this? Might as well hang it up right now.) 

Sharknado, produced for the Syfy Channel, is bloody brilliant. Really bloody, that is. I mean really bloody bloody. But, also brilliant. The title itself is such a quiet little gem of creativity. The English language simply wasn't complete without a word for a tornado made of sharks. Enter Thunder. Shark + Tornado = Sharknado. (As Sarah Palin will be the first to tell you, "Shakespeare made up words too.")

Last night, my daughter and I were sprawled on our family room couch. It was too hot to eat, too hot to move. Too hot, period. She was texting (surprise, surprise) and I was absent-mindedly zapping through our 57,000 channels ("and nothing on"). I had narrowed it down to Bull Durham and Ever After, both of which were halfway over, when I suddenly saw an enormous funnel cloud, off the coast of Los Angeles, with what looked like little black bits of confetti, squirming round and round. Gasp! They were sharks. Gasp, gasp! It was a ...


So much for Kevin Costner and Drew Barrymore. How could I resist? 

The premise of Sharknado is deceptively simple (from what I could tell — the movie was halfway through, alas alack, when I tuned in). A bizarre extreme burst of weather apparently floods L.A. This results in massive man-eating sharks circling school buses filled with desperate over-acting children. Secondary characters losing limbs. Geriatrics hobbling out of shark-filled swimming pools. Plus, the usual assortment of aerial rescues, stolen helicopters, pyrotechnics, car chases. Not to mention a budding romance and a father and daughter reconciliation.

But wait ... there's more.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water (so to speak), the extreme weather becomes even more extreme.  A number of funnel clouds build over the water and — for lack of a more meteorologicalish* term — sucks up all these humongous killer sharks, spins them around to thoroughly piss them off, and then hurls them down onto the city in a ...


So what, you may be asking, was my daughter doing through all of this? She was texting. Sometimes, she would look up, look at the TV, look at me, look back at her phone. Every once in a while she would comment, supportively. (Oh, did I say "supportively?" I meant to say "disdainfully.")

"Why are you watching this?"

or more often

"I can't believe you're watching this."

But, I did. And, as I've already asserted, it was bloody brilliant. Best line? "We're gonna need a bigger chopper." (Sorry if you don't understand why that's funny. My daughter didn't so I explained it to her, and got a lovely eye roll for the effort.) Best death by airborn shark? The guy who got his arm bitten off and even while it was spewing blood all over the place got his leg bitten off too. Best use of dramatic irony? The weaselly school bus driver who escapes the sharks only to be crushed by some big concrete thingy on a bridge (I think I was getting a Diet Pepsi during that scene because it didn't make a lot of sense). Best use of dramatic foreshadowing-coming-full-circle-stuff? Tough girl who survived a shark attack as a child and must now face her demons, quite literally, because she's riding shotgun and hurling bombs into the funnel clouds. (Don't ask.)

And, last but not least ... best unlikely happy ending ever? 

Spoiler alert! Stop now if you don't want to know.

Okay, I warned you. Picture this: huge great white shark falling from sky, mouth wide open, rows of teeth gleaming. Rugged man person pushes estranged daughter out of the way, raises his chainsaw and allows the shark to swallow him whole. Friends of rugged man are understandably bummed. But wait! Rugged man chainsaws himself out of the belly of the shark (because, I guess, there hadn't been enough blood already), then reaches in and pulls out tough girl who is unconscious but not yet digested. Lots of bloody kissing. The end.

Until ... bum, bum, bum, bum, bum bum, bum, bum ... Sharknado II.

* See? I can make up words. #ClassmateEnvyRedemption


  1. Excellent post! I'm a '79 HCHS grad, and professionally I speak about transforming emergency preparedness, so I'm LOVING Sharknado's awful greatness. I'm waiting for Manohla Dargis, New York Times film critic and fellow '79 HCHS grad, to review Sharknado -- that will be awesome! :-)

  2. Thanks, Ms Duct Tape! Manohla was a year ahead of me (as, I guess, were you). More Hunter pride!