Spring Break Shark Attack review by Mike Long

During Spring Break season, I imagine that a good question for parents would be "Do you know where your kids are?" But apparently a better question is "Do you know where the sharks are?"

Spring Break Shark Attack is truly a film whose title says it all. As the movie opens, we meet Danielle (Shannon Lucio), a young woman who attends college, but still lives where her domineering parents. Following a phone call from friends who are in Florida for Spring Break, Danielle decides to enjoy her life -- so she tells her folks that she's going to work for Habitat For Humanity, but instead heads for Florida. Once there, she's reunited with her old friends and begins to relax. Danielle also drops in on her brother, Charlie (Wayne Thonley), who attends college in the area. She soon meets two men who find her interesting; T.J. (Justin Baldoni) is a sleazy guy who initially came to the beach to make a "Girls Gone Wild" rip-off, but has instead set his sights on Danielle; Shane (Riley Smith) is a local who runs a charter-boat business with his mother, Mary (Kathy Baker). As both men vie for her affections, Shane by being charming and nice, T.J. by being boorish and overbearing, Danielle soon finds herself feeling overwhelmed.

Speaking of overwhelmed, Charlie, who's studying oceanography (I think) keeps finding more and more dead turtles along the newly constructed reef near the beach. He's convinced that sharks are attacking the turtles, but his professor doesn't believe him. Soon, Charlie's assumptions become a reality, as group of sharks attack the beach, putting the party-goers in jeopardy.

As a rule, made-for-TV movies have never been great. But, there was a time during the 70s and 80s when they were a somewhat respectable genre unto themselves. TV movies often featured B-and C-list stars (typically from television shows) and storylines which were usually watered-down versions of popular theatrical films. Few of these movies would be considered classics, but they were a staple of TV and if you lump mini-series (such as 'Salem's Lot) into this category, they account for some truly enjoyable programming. Today, TV movies still exists, but they aren't as prevalent, unless you count "LifeTime movies" and other cable fare. While today's younger audiences may not be as aware of TV movies, there are still fans who clamor for certain titles, such as Don't Be Afraid of the Dark to come to DVD. Instead, we get Spring Break Shark Attack.

Spring Break Shark Attack aired on CBS on March 20, 2005. Historically, CBS has been known as a conservative network, so a film with such a title was a surprising movie from "The Eye". Someone must have convinced them that this movie would be a good idea. I hope that this person has since been fired, as Spring Break Shark Attack may be one of the most ludicrous things ever shown on TV.

To be fair, the title of the movie isn't misleading, as it does contain both scenes of people enjoying Spring Break and it does show shark attacks, but there is a disproportionate amount of the former. About 85% of the movie is concerned with Danielle and her boy problems while the sharks play a very diminished role. In fact, if the film didn't open with a shark attack (which included a ham-handed spoof of Desperate Housewives), one would begin to wonder if they had tuned into the right movie. The result is a movie which contains a very generic Where the Boys Are-type story that just happens to contain a few shark attacks.

So, the bulk of the film is just plain boring, unless you really find yourself taken in by Danielle's story. This is unlikely as for the most of the movie Danielle is in greater danger of being date-raped than she is of being attacked by a shark. Then, in the last 20 minutes or so, the movie takes a turn towards the decidedly loopy as the sharks attack the beach. And when I say sharks, I mean like 20-30 sharks, attacking swimmers and partygoers right and left. As the movie aired at 9pm (Eastern), I can only imagine that they had to wait until the 10pm hour to really get things going, because the shark attacks are surprisingly graphic for network TV. Oh, they're tame when compared to something like Hostel, but we do see a fair amount of churning red water and many shots of screaming teens as they slide into the waiting jaws of a shark puppet. (The sharks are typically represented by fins only, but occasionally a questionable shark head will break the water.) The coup de grace occurs when a para-surfer flies into the mouth of a strategically placed shark.

Those who feel that TV is nothing but trash should use Spring Break Shark Attack as their Exhibit A. The movie promises a mix of bikini-clad coeds and killer sharks, and for once, a movie delivers on its promise. The problem is that this is an anemic made-for-TV movie and the result is hackneyed and boring. Even though things pick up in the finale, even it is poorly done, as the movie doesn't seem to know when to quit (or the writers simply didn't know how to end it). There are some unintentionally funny moments in the film, but even camp value can't keep it afloat. I can only recommend this movie to shark-film enthusiasts and they'd be better off with one of the seemingly endless Shark Attack series.

Spring Break Shark Attack chomps onto DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. (Kudos to Paramount for this move, as the movie aired in widescreen on the HD channels.) The image looks very good, as the image is very sharp and clear. This is virtually no grain here and the image shows no defects from the source material. The picture has a nice amount of depth -- so much so that we can see the mountains off the coast of Florida...wait a minute! The colors are good and the image is very well-balanced. The DVD carries a Dolby 2.0 Surround track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects are nicely placed, although they usually feature only musical cues or crowd noise. There are no extras on this DVD.

2 out of 10 Jackasses

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