Thursday, July 9, 2009


WHAT THE MONSTERS TAUGHT ME: Where’s your shark messiah now, Stephen Baldwin? Meaaah!


Stephen the B-Movie Actor (the ‘B’ is for Born Again), Geico Caveman: Mafia Villain, thatsa spicy grease-a-ball henchmen, one silly accent short of a Peter Sellers fan convention, all the Italian authenticity of the Olive Garden, locations by the Vegas Venetian, and a scrumptious sharky abondanza!

More details here.


David Franks (Stephen Baldwin) is some kind of professor/smart guy/dude in a lab coat whose father has vanished in Venice while treasure hunting for sketchy scuzzball Don Clemenza (Giacomo Gonnella). Upon receiving the news, he rushes to Italy to search for him with his amply bosomed fiancée Laura (Vanessa Johansson) in tow. He uncovers a web of lies surrounding his father’s disappearance as the police appear to be covering something up. Turns out Dad was killed by a shark that is prowling the canals of this ancient city and if news about his death made the papers, there would be a panic, economic damage, and a plunge in demand for gondolier hats. Franks learns that his father was seeking the gold, jewelry, and riches of the Medici family that has been lost for centuries. Cue historical flashback with silly narration and overblown choir orchestration. He is then strong-armed into helping mobster Clemenza locate the treasure that supposedly lies somewhere beneath the canals. His minions kidnap Laura and hold her ransom until he complies and Clemenza reveals that the sharks were bred by him to use as “watchdogs” against people trying to seek the fortune. Meanwhile, the sharks are enjoying an unlimited Italian buffet to the tune of fake Dean Martin songs against poorly rendered matte paintings. With little assistance from the calzone-crunching cops, Franks has to take on Clemenza, the stinky dangers of the Venetian sewers, and a very hungry CGI shark ready to form his own man-eating cosa nostra.


May the Film Lord forgive me, but man do I love bad movies, and after all, monster movies are a constant revelation. The truly bad ones are the cinema version of WYSIWYG – What You Read Is What You Get. Read, as in the title. Sounding like either like an international quantum leap for shark movies or a 90s Roger Avary caper film, Sharks in Venice delivers what the title promises, albeit briefly. Yes, there are sharks. And yes, they are in Venice. The Italy one. I think. It’s also a gloriously appalling sorta/kinda monster movie meets fortune-seeking adventure. Part National Treasure, part Megashark, all baaaad. And they don’t come any more dreadful than this example of typical terribleness from the fine folks at Nu Image that probably pumps out more poopy turkeys a week than Butterball at Thanksgiving. Baldwin turns in his typical workman-like effort, borders on ridiculous, and is able to contain his facial hair for ninety minutes. Johansson’s assets prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is related to sister Scarlett. But it’s homicidal goon Gonnella who steals the show as the disastrously-accented bad guy whose performance approaches Roman Moroni territory. I prayed for dialogue like, “Immonna killa dose fargin sharks bastages! Son-a-ma-batches!”. With a bigger role for Gonnella, this movie may have been called Mob Goofballs in Venice. Despite the lack of sharks swallowing gondoliers (an opportunity for cinema gold wasted), Sharks in Venice is barely a monster movie, barely a caper movie, but a complete stinker for bad movie lovers who can’t get enough Goddamn shark silliness.

No comments: