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The Most Hilariously Awful Things About Jaws: The Revenge!
by: Dr. Boogie

Sometimes in show business, you hit upon an idea that really resonates with the audience (to wit, Jaws). When that happens, you've got to milk it. You've got to squeeze. Squeeze it, squeeze it hard, extract every last ounce of value out of a property until you can't squeeze no more (Jaws 2). Then, you grab both ends and twist it until you wring a couple more drops out of it that you really should've left alone (Jaws 3D). Jaws: The Revenge is what happens when you take that thoroughly-juiced husk, the cinematic rind, and try to get even more out of it, but all you wind up getting is some pulp and a dry wheeze.

Jaws: The Revenge. This time it's personal.

Jaws: The Revenge is nearly as famous as Jaws, but for entirely different reasons. As part of my karmic punishment for some manner of unspeakable villainy in a previous life, I will spare you a viewing of the film by parsing out the incredible inanities that feed into each other like an uncontrolled fusion reaction of ass. Let's begin:

#1 The Plot!

The very premise of Jaws IV demands that you roll your eyes at the film even before it begins.

Ellen Brody is the focus: her son Sean took over the mantle of Amity Sheriff after his father's death (and after the death of the other Sean Brody who worked as a marine biologist in Jaws 3D). After Sean gets killed by a shark, Ellen becomes convinced that the shark is stalking her family as revenge for the shark killing they've been up to. In this way, the shark is sort of a combination of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and a giant shark that has absolutely no motivation for revenge nor any means of tracking a single family because IT'S A FUCKING ANIMAL!

Ellen's other son, Michael, convinces her to come stay with him in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, in addition to being at least as smart as the guys who wrote this crap, the shark can swim fast enough to make the 2000+ mile trip to the Bahamas in time to continue menacing Ellen and the other Brody's shortly after they arrive by plane. If Aquaman could control a shark that smart and powerful, he would be hands down the greatest superhero!

But all that was just the beginning: forget that the shark has some means of identifying anyone named Brody that enters the water. Forget that the shark would have traveled fast enough to create a tidal wave in order to reach the Bahamas in time for Brody-fest '87. Forget that Great White sharks prefer colder temperatures (this one is the hardest to forget because the characters won't stop reminding you of how impossible this particular point is). The movie also wants you to believe that Ellen shares some kind of psychic connection with the shark so that when it attacks, she gets a premonition. This bit is actually a holdover from a deleted plotline in which the Brody's are having a feud with a witch doctor (those damned New England witch doctors!) who summons the original shark from Jaws to take revenge. That's right: there was actually a part of the story that was considered too dumb to make it into the final product.

#2 Hoagie!

Filling out a cast of otherwise unremarkable players is Michael Caine. Here, he plays a respectable actor who's slumming it in a movie with an incomprehensible plot involving a globetrotting shark. The memo on the sizeable paycheck he received reads "Hoagie".

Hoagie is a pilot who helps Ellen mostly forget about her son being devoured by a shark by taking her on dates all around the allegedly sharkless Bahamas. They eat at nice restaurants, go dancing, take in the local culture, and look like they had a fun time shooting this flop.

Ellen's son, Michael, does not approve of them dating, presumably because it comes across as padding in a film that is nearly two hours long. For one excruciating half hour, it seems like maybe this is going to develop into some kind of conflict. Instead, Michael is too busy fighting with his wife and his research partner to do much of anything about it, so the subplot trails off and dies, like a shark dying of exhaustion after swimming from Amity to the Bahamas in a day.

Did I mention Michael Caine is playing a character named Hoagie? Because he is. Michael Caine is named after a sandwich in a movie that most would likely describe as a shit sandwich.

#3 The Shark!

Wow, this shark sure is a great character, isn't he? He can swim super fast, he can hold a grudge, he can do most anything! I mean, the shark in Jaws had to get by simply as a cold, emotionless killing machine whose existence was nothing more than finding food and eating food. Meanwhile, this shark can process complex human emotions like the desire for revenge, and the idea of things being personal this time! What CAN'T this shark do?

Well, he can't really bite.

When he goes to attack Michael Brody's boat, all he can do is pop up and sort of nibble on the deck a little. The crew isn't even that scared. They're just in awe of the strange sight of a Great White worrying a spot of deck with its rows of sharp teeth. We're let to believe the shark can bit because we saw him kill Sean. Well, we kind of saw it...

I think there's a shark in there somewhere.

Okay, the camera very rarely captures the shark biting anybody, but that doesn't mean the shark looks like shit.


And it gets worse when you consider the shark's track record: by the time the movie is more than halfway through, the shark has killed exactly one person, and made a clumsy attempt at Michael. If we take what Ellen says about the shark targeting Brody's to be serious, then you wouldn't expect the body count to be that high. But then the shark goes after Michael's daughter, and instead bites some random woman who just happened to be near her on a banana boat. On the plus side, Jaws attacked a banana boat.

Is he losing focus on account of he hasn't eaten since he partially devoured Sean back in Amity? Or did his elaborate spy network just give him the wrong intel about which human female was a Brody? Oh, there will be hell to pay in the Jaws office if he winds up looking like a chump in front of the other monster sharks.

#4 The Ending!

Generally speaking, the third act is when things build up to a conclusion that ties up loose ends and gives some closure to the story you've just witness. At the end of Jaws IV, the awfulness is turned up to 11.

At this point, the only two shark fatalities have been Sean at the beginning and the random aforementioned banana boat woman. Ellen is so upset about her granddaughter almost getting eaten by the shark with a vendetta that she steals Michael's boat and heads out into open water to... have a duel with the shark, I guess. Hoagie offers to take Michael and his partner, Jake, in his plane to look for Ellen. They manage to find her right as the shark is closing in on her, so naturally, Hoagie crashes into the ocean.

Despite not being a Brody, the shark still takes a bite out of him. At least the shark is getting closer to fulfilling the notion of being Brody-centric by going after someone affiliated with the family.

Michael and Jake manage to swim to the boat and climb aboard while the shark is chewing up mom's boyfriend. Ellen laments the loss of Hoagie for about a minute before he climbs aboard, completely unscathed. When I saw this, I had to think that maybe the random woman from earlier might be okay, too. I mean, we KNEW Sean was dead because they recovered his corpse, but with everyone else, we're just using the honor system. Maybe the shark wore his teeth down when he was chewing on Michael's boat.

Jake comes up with a harebrained plan that involves making a bomb, shoving it down the shark's throat, and electromagnetism, something something something, movie science bullcrap. Interesting side note: Mario van Peebles improvised most of his lines in the movie. If the producers had let him, I'm sure he could have improvised a better explanation for the shark being in the Bahamas than "it's after the Brody's for revenge!"

Incredibly, Jake's plan of getting a giant shark to run him down and leap at him results in... him getting eaten. Who could have seen this coming!? At least he managed to cram the bomb down the shark's throat, so his death wasn't a completely pointless and avoidable tragedy.

Phase two of the plan involves using a strobe light to make the shark jump out of the water because electromagnetism or some shit. This also causes the shark to roar, as sharks have totally been known to do. Somehow all of this will make the bomb explode. Ellen steers toward the shark and things start to get weird.

Ellen starts having sepia-toned flashbacks to events that she never witnessed, including the climax of the original Jaws where Martin Brody shoots a scuba tank and blows up the shark. As the boat nears the shark, the flashbacks get worse until finally...

"Smile you son of a..."

By the way, remember earlier when I said the model for the shark looked like shit? Well, that thing looks like it was made by Industrial Light and Magic compared to the model they used for the explosion:

After completely undercutting the suspense by playing the climax of the original, the shark is impaled on the bowsprit... and explodes. The explosion destroys the boat and the reputation of the special effects director. The shark dies, and unfortunately the others die in the explo- ah, I'm just kidding. Not only do they not die, but Jake appears, wounded but still alive. Seriously. This is how we last saw Jake:

And now he's back, and doing pretty good for a guy who was carried off in the mouth of a Great White. I guess the shark just tossed him in his live well? Despite having his torso ripped open by a shark and in spite of stuck in the water miles from shore, he lives. In fact, I'll bet the other woman lived, too. And I'm not entirely sure Sean died, either. Maybe he just fainted because he's scared of sharks. That explanation is just stupid enough to belong in the script.

(Note: There was an original ending that didn't go over well with test audiences, so they used this far worse one instead.)

I can't really explain what happened in this movie. It seems like someone wanted a vacation to the Bahamas and created a shooting script to justify the trip. Then, when the end of the movie came up, they just spliced in some footage of a much better movie as though they could build tension through osmosis.

This is easily the worst movie Michael Caine has ever been in and, thanks to the ending, the worst movie Roy Scheider's ever been in. Not only that; it features the least successful shark in the franchise! A banana peel in Billy Madison killed more people than this shark!! Meanwhile, this Jaws couldn't even kill a banana BOAT!!!

The movie's only real claim-to-fame is that it inspired one of the least awful LJN games for the NES. All said, though, I do wonder what that game would've been like if they had kept the voodoo stuff....

Probably something like this.

So what do you think are the most absurd things about Jaws IV (or any Jaws movie for that matter)? Drop a comment below!

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