“All men are drawn to the sea, perilous as it may be” – I think Hemmingway wrote that or maybe it was the Chinese dude from Pirates of the Caribbean.
The great beyond has always tortured and inspired man, weather he is hypnotized by an undulating ocean at dusk or gawking upon the flickering constellations at night. Curiosity and the inability to fathom something you’re surrounded by tugs at the soul. It latches on like a bad case of the scabies and eats away until you’re old and bitter, finally content with not knowing, only caring about your garden or coin collection. The world itself becomes an unfamiliar prison that terrifies you, so you seclude even farther inland, like a Russian army in retreat, burning their own crops along the way. This is the eventual fate of every man who evades an accidental death or terminal illness. By the time death comes to deliver your elderly coils into that great beyond, you won’t even care. You’ll be too tired to appreciate being transformed into something different, even if it’s only dirt. Wonder, amazement, and youth must be milked for all they’re worth. That is why there are no stupid questions. There are no ugly babies. And most importantly, there are no bad movies about sharks or aliens.
The deep blue has killed more curious men than AIDS and Everest combined, which is why it’s the perfect setting for a horror/revenge flick. The original masterpiece, Jaws I, was never about the shark: It was about the ocean. That’s why the most powerful scene didn’t even include the thirty foot man-eater: Three diverse souls, a motley crew consisting of a law man, a science man, and a seaman (haha), all bobbing up and down, floating on that unexplainable void, all sharing the same underlying fear and anticipation. Perhaps it’s not how we view the unknown which shapes us, but how we use that view to connect with our fellow man.
What the first movie got wrong was the land setting. Dreary New England: where the water is brown, and all the chics wear a one piece. They finally smartened up by 1987 and sent Jaws off on a tropical vacation to the Bahamas, but before he leaves squaresville, he kills Sean, Chief Brody’s son. Sean is some kind of boat sheriff and starts fucking around with some floating telephone pole that Jaws just happened to be using as a chew-toy. And here comes Sean, trying to take it away from him, typical douchebag cop move. Jaws promptly bites off his arm, sending Sean to ball up at the bottom of his boat, screaming away. Jaws just lets him suffer for a while, mocking his futile cries, letting him come to grips with his future one-armed life. When it’s evident that Sean now accepts his permanent disability and will make the most of his crippled existence, Jaws pulls a total fuck-you move and eats him anyway. What an asshole, but you gotta love him.
Jaws is tired of the drama, chucks up the deuces, and takes a vacation to the Bahamas. Guess who shows up: Sean’s mom (A.K.A. Brody’s widow). And guess who already lives there, Michael Brody, (Chief Brody’s first born) and get this, he’s a marine biologist. We all see where this is going. And here’s where things just get crazy: Michael’s best friend is Mario Van Peebles (MVP as he will be referred to henceforth) who’s Bahaman accent is about as believable as a televangelist’s healing cloth.
But this is to be an article defending this masterpiece, which has been regarded by critics as, “laughable,” “dismal,” and “an endless sea of incompetence.” I will now provide you with the top ten reasons why Jaws 4 remains a great movie:
10.) The women of Jaws: all sex symbols in their own right.
The Widow: Chief Brody’s wife, she was a total piece of ass back in Jaws I, but has degenerated to a granny-type, a beat up sack of old bones whom nobody would tap. I think she’s the same lady Flava Flav married. I like looking at her because one day (unless we’re super rich), we’ll all have to nail women that old, so we might as well accept it.
Carla Brody: Michael’s hipster, nympho wife. She wears overalls and berets and makes abstract metallic sculptures because traditional forms and likenesses actually require talent. The Bahaman government pays her for some twisted piece of junk that looks like something Optimus Prime would shit out after eating a bad energon cube. She does put out though. I’ll give her that much. There is one scene where she wields an acetylene torch while wearing little goggles and gets boned in a shed. It’s at best a 4 on the boner scale, which isn’t bad for a movie about a shark.
Lynn Whitfield: the sexy native Bahaman temptress shackled to that doofus of a man, MVP. While MVP dresses like a child and talks like a fool, it’s Lynn whose soulful eyes mute the incomprehensible dialect of her on-screen boyfriend and make us all want to run away to a land where stupid shirts aren’t stupid.
9.) Jaws’ magic realism: Jaws died in the previous three movies, but he never stays dead. He always comes back, hell bent on getting his life straight until some jackoff from the Brody clan gets in his way. He even haunts their dreams like Freddy Kruger. Michael and his mom routinely awaken, looking sweaty and disheveled, like a 4th quarter Andy Reid because Jaws has just murdered them in their pajamas. Cowards die a thousand deaths. Soldiers die just one. Jaws is a soldier. I’ll let you figure out who the cowards are.
8.) Seeing a dickhead in flip up glasses get eaten by a big plastic shark. MVP, wearing a button down from the Matt Cale collection, fashions a Pringles can to a Zach Morris phone and stabs Jaws with it. The thing transmits back to an EKG machine on the boat so they can hear Jaws’ heartbeat. Apparently magic realism extends to the humans as well. He then turns a flashlight into a bomb and throws it into Jaws’ mouth. That was the last straw. J-dizzle catches air and plucks him from the bow like Larry Fitzgerald hauling in a sixty yarder. And with MVP clutched in his teeth, kicking and screaming, Jaws swims away from the boat like an arrogant dog who decided to just keep the frisbee.
7.) Jaws being the only shark on earth with vocal chords. Hearing him roar was about as funny as seeing Air Bud dunk or any woman throw.
6.) Jaws represents the American spirit: He can’t be killed. He’s always eating. He turns his irrational fears into irrational hatreds, which causes things to get a little out of hand occasionally, but he means well.
5.) Jaws’ swagger. When he first sees Michael driving this little mini-submarine, he swims up right next to him, and I swear he grins as if to say, “Soon.” Also, every time Jaws decides to go topside, he’s got all the dexterity and grace of a legless war vet, yet he always seems to shake some unlucky fool into his jowls by doing this cute little shimmy. One time, he goes to the beach to chill, and apparently some lame random pissed him off, so he decided to eat her in front of everyone. Most sharks suck a person down under and munch on them. Not Jaws. He holds her up so the entire beach can see and proceeds to bite down slowly. Everyone screams like little bitches. That got them out the water faster than a turd in a hot tub. Another one of my favorite Jaws moments was when he busted through the door of this underwater house and was all like, “Here’s Jaaawsy!”
4.) All the human shit happening on the land is kind of boring. I think this is a deliberate device to cause the viewer to drift off and start thinking about Jaws. How come Jaws can’t die? Is he a ghost shark? Is he just a manifestation of the Brody family’s fears? Is this whole thing in their heads? Is this like Fight Club but with a shark? If he is a real shark, I bet he comes from a big family. I bet he has a twin retard brother named Sawj who can only swim sideways and loves to bite his own fart bubbles. Maybe Jaws isn’t evil, and he is killing all these people to feed to his mentally disabled brother whom he loves dearly. Maybe he’s not a shark at all? Maybe reincarnation is real, and he’s some murderous dictator reborn in a shark’s body? Maybe he’s Hitler?! Maybe Hitler came back to earth as a shark and just decided to start killing Jews. Is Brody a Jewish surname? Jews and Jaws are only separated by one letter! That has to mean something! Sharks can’t sleep, but I bet if I was turned into one, I would find a way to sleep….How big is a shark’s dick?
3.) Michael Caine plays an airplane driver. To call him a pilot would be to call a Taco Bell cashier a chef. He lets a little girl with no flying experience fly his plane. And later, just to impress Flava Flave’s wife, he lets her take the wheel too. I think the airplane is a close second behind the guitar as inanimate objects that help socially inept guys get laid. This goofball hilariously crashes his plane into the water on purpose in order to swim to a stranded boat that Jaws is circling, a boat that has the granny on it. Jaws, between laughing his fins off at this lame act of chivalry, finds time smash the plane to pieces just to be an asshole. Classic Jaws.
2.) Watching people pretend to be scared of a giant rubber fish propelled by a lawn mower engine. If you watch it from that point of view, it’s really fascinating. All these people pretending, and doing such a horrible job at it; it’s thought provoking. You really start to appreciate when you see superior acting, like on Thats So Raven.
1.) Fear. You could watch it from an entire different perspective, and let yourself become immersed into the fear. In addition to the ocean being scary, sharks are inherently frightening. I’ve always had a primal fear for two things: Sharks and hobos. Now I’m not trying to be funny or ironic, the way some people pretend to be afraid of midgets or feign mistrust of gypsies. I actually am scared of hobos. My uncle used to live next to a rail yard. Once, as a young boy, me and my cousins were playing hide and seek. I decided to hide in some bushes and ended up stumbling upon a nest of hobos who were waiting for the next train. I screamed. They screamed. We did not all scream for ice cream. Instead, I booked it like the dickens. I thought they were going to kill me. Later I went back with an all-adult posse to see where they had made a fire and took dumps. I remember seeing ashes, empty cans, and hobo droppings. It was pretty surreal. My family told me that hobos killed kids all the time and to stay away from them. I eventually grew up and realized that’s not true; however, a healthy fear of them still exists. Sharks were the other fear. As a child, Jaws always scared me, but it wasn’t until I’d actually seen a shark fin while swimming that I realized I could be eaten. The worst thing was seeing the adults’ faces become terrified with fear, watching some of them petrified, afraid to even start swimming towards shore. I think when something scares you that much as a child, you maintain a sick fascination with it and can summon those fears at will. That’s another reason why watching a Jaws movie can always prove to be an engaging experience. While watching Jaws II a few months ago, I called my mom and girlfreind on a commercial break just to tell them I loved them. Life’s short. You could be eaten by a shark when you least expect it. It happens all the time.