Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Monday, August 12, 2013

An Exercise In Stupidity

Saturday was an evening of contrasts. On the one hand, here on Parliament Hill, we had the final evening of three nights of what's called Fortissimo, a military marching beat retreat ceremony. A group of marching bands plays music across the large lawn on the Hill, with a combination of brass instruments, bagpipes, and drums. Accompanying all of this are foot soldiers, cannons, horses, and the bells of the Peace Tower. Everything's done with such precision and skill, and it's the sort of ceremony that you should see, if you get a chance to attend one of these ceremonies. The central part of the evening is an arrangement of the 1812 Overture. It was a pleasant evening, and a fun one. The crowd enjoyed it.

Then I got home, and lo and behold, stupidity personified lurked on television.

Every once in awhile a film comes along that lowers the bar for monumental stupidity. There's a piece of cinematic refuse out there called The Room, a film often called the worst film of all time, which has no sense of consistency, logic, storytelling, or characterization. It was directed, written, and produced by one man, who also starred in it, a guy who looks like Ozzie Osbourne's dumber, uglier brother, a chap by the name of Tommy Wiseau. It's been called the Citizen Kane of bad movies. A rep theatre near my home runs it once a month, for some inexplicable reason.

I tend to avoid what obviously looks like a stupid movie when they turn up in the theatres. I might pick up a DVD if I see it on a library express shelf, but I won't waste dollars on it. Hence I've seen something like Battleship, which represents a couple of hours I'll never get back. That film saw Liam Neeson wasting his time, Taylor Kitsch playing a complete screwup Navy officer who somehow manages to step up at the last minute and become a commander, and Rihanna prove decisively that she's a horrible actress. Oh, and lest we forget, we're supposed to accept that an advanced aggressive alien race with Transformers technology wants to engage in naval war like a game. And the final act features the mothballed USS Missouri saving the day, commanded by Officer Screwup and manned by retired veterans. It's a sequence so stupid that it's a disgrace to the real Missouri. Of course, that fits in with the rest of the film.

Syfy in the States is a channel we fortunately don't have on this side of the border, though some of its movies turn up on our cable too. It has a policy of making profoundly cheesy films with horrible special effects, actors who pretty much need to take any role they can get, and shoddy writing and directing. Recently they came out with Sharknado, a film of such tacky stupidity that of course it went viral. The audience is supposed to believe that a tornado could scoop up sharks out of the ocean and onto L.A., wrecking havoc with civilians, particularly some characters played by actors desperate for a paying gig. I had managed to avoid it.

Last week, Discovery had its annual Shark Week. The channel here is much like the one south of the border,   with some Canadian content, but sure enough, plenty of shark related material. I'd use the word documentary, but Discovery has really set the bar low for the term documentary. It's mostly what we call Shark Porn (no, not sharks copulating, though it wouldn't surprise me). By Shark Porn, I mean rapid fire editing of sharks swimming through the water, chewing up whatever, banging into shark cages, baring their big teeth (side note to the editors at Discovery Channel: rapid fire editing is visual clutter. You people are idiots). And this goes on all week.

Well, the other night, to finish off the week, our Discovery Channel aired Sharknado. I was home late, but it started late as it was. I was watching something else, flipped channels during a commercial, and found this embarrassingly bad program going on. It didn't take long to realize... Ian Ziering turning up on screen confirmed it. I didn't linger to watch... just momentary looks during commercials was enough to leave me rolling my eyes. Horribly wooden acting, bad script, and a complete inconsistency in the story. One moment you'd have clear rain. The next moment, dry and somewhat sunny. And very confused characters trying to avoid falling sharks. All while trying not to look right at the camera and apologize for the bad effects and story.

I did see the end, which had my eye rolling going on hyperdrive. We're supposed to accept that a woman can be swallowed whole by a shark in mid air and survive the crash to earth (to be rescued a few minutes later). We're supposed to accept that an animal like a shark, caught up in the air in the heart of a tornado, would still be alive long enough to fall to earth (as opposed to being dead of massive trauma). Come on! If the shark found itself falling to earth, thrown out of a tornado, I'm more inclined to think it might be thinking something like this:

"I'm falling! I'm falling! I don't want to die! Oh, great Shark-Ra! By The Sacred Sharp Teeth, I pray thee, save your loyal servant from falling into the..." SPLAT!!!!!!

As opposed to, oh, hitting the ground, attacking a human, and getting in one more bite before their deaths. And seriously, are we supposed to expect that a guy with a chainsaw could cut his way out of a shark's body (and save the aforementioned woman who got swallowed whole)?

Ian Ziering, who years ago started out on Beverly Hills 90210, looked in the scenes I saw as if he was thinking, "You know, I wonder if I had never taken that role in the first place, if I might have had a chance to slowly build an acting resume of character roles, instead of spending years living down being a star of that show, not getting cast in anything, and being forced to star in a piece of dreck called Sharknado. Who knows? Maybe I could have been in Breaking Bad if I had passed on Steve Sanders. Damn, I hate my life..."

And of course, Syfy is already making a sequel to this stupidity. So more actors desperate for any part will feature prominently, more lapses in common sense will ensue, and more horrible writing and directing will result. And since such production companies have never heard of doing too much of a bad thing, expect even more stupidity to come. Perhaps like some of the following?


  1. I saw Sharknado--it's one of those movies you've got to see for yourself to find out if it's REALLY that bad.

    Personally, I think they should title the sequel Sharknado 2: Jumping the Shark!

  2. I've been bitterly disappointed with Syfy. There is nothing but garbage I will not watch. What ever happened to that wonderful science fiction shows (and some movies) of long ago?

  3. If Corgies can do it so can chihuahuas!! LOL

  4. Oh, my gosh. Too funny! Soooo glad I never saw that movie, though I've heard it's so bad it might just be good. LOL! Never understood that phrase, really.

  5. I had no desire to see sharknado. I mean the title alone just says it all.

  6. You've summed up perfectly why we don't have TV!
    We'd love to see the military displays on Parliament Hill...would bring back memories of drill practice.
    Jane x

  7. Nice to have my opinion of a movie (that I deliberately avoided) confirmed!

  8. OMG ! the movie was....
    I watched it sorta of but I was cleaning the studio. I would just look up every once and a while. Never lost the story line because the story line was sharks in sky.
    I was "lineing" my family through out the 2 (?) hours and cracking them up.
    I did a post about it and came up with some great movie ideas in the comments.
    But shame on you about the Corgnando ! It should be those yappy horrible awful snappy chihuahuas they could take on a shark any day.

    cheers, parsnip

  9. Corgnado :)))))) I'm still laughing William. I'm guessing these films must appeal to a certain audience (?) or they wouldn't keep making them..but really :)) If some of these script writers lived on a coastline like ours here in WA where people actually do get attacked by sharks on a regular basis, then it might not all be such a big laugh.

  10. @Norma: it already jumped the shark in the first one!

    @Mari: they have too many marketing chimps running the network.

    @Eve: unleash the chihuahuas!

    @Kimberly: what I saw was excrutiating!

    @Kelly: yes, the title speaks volumes.

  11. @Jane and Chris: it's usually in August, when they do it, and it's well worthwhile.

    @M.R.: isn't it perfect?

    @Cheryl: I couldn't have sat through the whole thing!

    @Parsnip: I'm sure someone's come up with a Chihuahua pic by now!

    @Grace: what we need to do is feed some of these script writers to the sharks.

  12. Oh yeah it's totally ridiculous, but sometimes that's the fun of it. We need to remember not to take ourselves so seriously. Not that I've seen any of it. I dont get SyFy, but I can tolerate a B movie now and then just for brainless kicks. :D

  13. Wow. There is a lot of scary stuff going on on your blog. You better put an age tag to it ;-)

  14. I actually heard of this movie and cannot believe Discovery broadcast it! Though maybe I can. Too bad you couldn't watch that beautiful ceremony on Parliament Hill *after* Sharknado, it would've cleansed the soul!:)

  15. Discovery used to be one of my top 5 favorite channels. Other than Mythbusters, I can't remember the last time I turned it on. As for SyFy, they've been going downhill since long before they took science fiction out of the title.

  16. One of the STUPIDEST movies I've seen lately was the latest Die Hard movie. I love the whole franchise, except for this one. I tried to watch it three times before I realized it wasn't me, it was the movie. Avoid like the plague!

  17. I have no idea what you are talking about... I am movie-challenged!
    I can't tell you when last I've seen a movie on the big screen... maybe about 3 years ago...

  18. Hah! Okay, the Baboonami has me rolling! I try to avoid these obviously bad movies at all cost (and I loath Nicolas Cage), but every once in a great while they're worth a good laugh :)

  19. I hate stupid movies! I went to one once, not thinking it would be stupid. At the end, I wanted my money back! Of course I knew I'd never get my money back--or the two hours I wasted!

  20. I can't do Syfy movies. Some of them are just too stupid. I think I sat through Dinocroc. No idea why. The characters are more ridiculous then the monsters.

  21. @PK: my idea of a fun B-movie might involve Bruce Campbell.

    @Angelika: you think?

    @LondonLulu: I think it would have!

    @Mark: some of those movies end up on our Space channel, for some inexplicable reason.

    @Cathy: I think the biggest problem with that last Die Hard movie was the actor playing John's son. There's no way John and Holly could have brought someone that clueless into the world.

    @Michelle: you're not missing much!

    @Meradeth: Cage was meant to be hated!

    @Maria: stupid movies are, after all, a pestilence...

    @Auden: they really are worse than the critters!

  22. I love the StarTrek shark. Otherwise, the happy hoopla that often abounds usually goes right over my head. Shark who?
    Only kidding.

  23. @Christine: they could use this sort of film to question suspects. "turn it off! I'll tell you everything, just turn it off!"


Comments and opinions always welcome. If you're a spammer, your messages aren't going to last long here, even if they do make it past the spam filters. Keep it up with the spam, and I'll send Dick Cheney after you.