*. In which what started as a joke movie title becomes a franchise. I won’t call it a cult because none of the films has any staying power. I referred to Sharknado as click-bait and while I rate The Second One a bit higher than The First One, mainly because the family stuff isn’t as painful and there’s more action, it still has that instantly forgettable quality.
*. The tone is set early, as the pre-credit sequence (or “teaser”) is an extended (12-minute) riff on Airplane!, right down to having Robert Hays as the pilot. There’s also a long nod (director Anthony C. Ferrante calls it “paying homage” on the commentary) to the classic “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” Twilight Zone episode that I didn’t think they needed to bother with because it doesn’t go anywhere interesting.
*. I say this opening sets the tone for a few reasons. In the first place there’s the switch to a direction that is more obviously and directly comic. Ian Ziering is still playing Fin as straight as he can, but we know we’re in a funny movie now. Or at least a movie that’s trying to be funny.
*. The second point is that this is a movie that’s going to have a lot of in-jokes. The plane, for example, is part of the Santa Mira fleet. There’s a whole lot of stuff like this, but it made me wonder if they could really be called in-jokes. I mean, what’s the joke? It’s more like playing a game of movie trivia.
*. The final thing the opening prepares us for is that this is going to be a movie built around cameos. I think this fits that click-bait quality I mentioned. Celebrity names just show up, are recognized, and then disappear. I guess you could also see them as being like the allusive bits and pieces from other movies. It’s a movie listicle.
*. A number of the cameos made me think of how the celebrities on tap might have even less staying power than the Sharknado franchise. I recognized a few. Judd Hirsch as a taxi driver, though his role is actually more than a cameo, was the highlight. Andy Dick drops in as a skeptical (and highly improbable) cop and Billy Ray Cyrus is a doctor.
*. Other names I felt bad about being able to identify and some I missed entirely. The larger point though is that of shelf-life. Surely it won’t be long before names like Jared Fogle, Kelly Osbourne, and Perez Hilton will be forgotten entirely. And then how will people view this movie? Which is a rhetorical question, since I think the point is that they won’t be viewing it at all.
*. Another movie where a bunch of media types are brought in to provide play-by-play. Not quite as embarrassing as how half the staff at CNN whored out in Batman v Superman, but still a pretty bad look. But I suppose their defence would be that they’re not really journalists or news figures. Matt Lauer and Kelly Ripa are just television hosts. Though it does make you wonder how they think people see them in their day jobs.
*. A curious continuity with the previous film: in both movies Fin, who is divorced from April, pairs up with a very attractive other woman who is then discarded as he continues to carry a torch for his ex. It doesn’t sell because there’s zero chemistry between Ziering and Tara Reid and both Cassie Scerbo in Sharknado and Vivica A. Fox in this movie are much more attractive alternatives. But at least Scerbo got Fin’s son as a consolation prize, and is allowed to live. After her noble self-sacrifice and confession of love for Fin, Skye (Fox) is horrifically dispatched via “the twister with teeth.” What was up with that?
*. It’s all still a joke, and a pretty shoddy piece of work, but it’s more fun than Sharknado and I think a better movie all around. Ferrante has a better sense of what he’s trying to do and Ziering has taken over the role of Fin, with a terrific game face that he manages to keep throughout everything the CGI department can throw at him. If you want to dip your toe in these waters I’d advise skipping Sharknado and starting off with this movie. You won’t be missing (or gaining) much.