By now, the Sharknado franchise is so immersed in parody, self-awareness, silly cameo appearances, and product placement that it seemed doomed to enter a decadent phase of self-swallowing shark-snark. Credit writer Thunder Levin with surmounting this danger by keeping Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, premiering Wednesday night, lively, action-packed, and occasionally quite funny.
Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are back as Fin and April Shepard. Fin is ripped and ready to rumble; April is pregnant and ready to pop — both with a baby and an artificial hand that doubles as a shark-killing blade. Bo Derek appears as Tara Reid’s mother, looking considerably less haggard than Tara Reid.
Warning: Spoilers follow for details of Sharknado 3 stupdity.
Propelled by theme music that mimics a frantic Ramones song, Sharknado 3 succeeds on the strength of its speed. Beginning with a shark-storm that savages the White House, containing President Mark Cuban and Vice President Ann Coulter, it quickly becomes a job for Fin, who contradicts the Secret Service leading the president to a protective underground bunker: “Water flows down, this is a bad idea!”
Better they should listen to a head of the National Weather Service, played by scandal-politician Anthony Weiner. Weiner manages to last longer than most of the celeb cameo players, even if the wobbly direction by Anthony C. Ferrante finds Weiner sometimes delivering lines while the back of his head is facing the camera.
From there, Sharknado 3 becomes a non-stop tour of properties owned by Syfy overlords Comcast-NBC Universal: Many news reports from every member of the Today Show team (I won’t spoil it, but Al Roker gets the best line); a trip to the Universal Orlando theme-ride park; a showcase for Kim Richards of Bravo’s Housewives dynasty; and repeated shots of the Comcast Xfinity logo at a NASCAR race. (As long as we’re listing things, cameos range from Michele Bachmann to Frankie Muniz to Robert Klein.)
Yet it’s all in the service of entertaining viewers — the plugs don’t slow things down. And by “things” I mean a mascara shotgun, an armored shark-hunting mobile home, and — well, let me quote co-star David Hasselhoff here (word emphasis his): “Sharks… in… space!!!”
Viewed on the terms of its own idiosyncratic idiocy, it all holds together. I wouldn’t say I ever want to see a sequel, but if Levin were to write one called Sharknado 4: The Bachelorette Quartet, I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted.
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! airs on Wednesday, July 22 at 9 p.m. on Syfy.