Last night, about twenty minutes into the latest SyFy shark movie, I declared the following on twitter:
The scene in question took place on Christmas Eve. Lovable Poppa (Ritchie Montgomery) is fishing out on the bayou and drinking from his thermos of eggnog when, suddenly, a shark jumps out of the water and eats him. It happens rather suddenly, so suddenly in fact that you only barely notice the fact that the shark has red eyes. It’s only as the shark is swimming away that we see that Santa’s hat is sitting on its fin. And, if we listen really carefully, we can hear the sound of jingling bells.
From the minute that people learned that SyFy was going to be broadcasting a movie called Santa Jaws, the question became just how literally we should take the title. Would Santa actually be a shark? Or would it just be a shark movie that happened during the Christmas season? And there was one question in particular that we were all wondering:
Well, the answer is yes. Santa Jaws does take place during the Christmas season. While Santa Jaws may not literally be Santa-turned-into-a-shark, he still brings a family together, just like any visit from Santa should. And yes … the shark wears a Santa hat on his fin.
The film deals with Cody (Reid Miller), a teenage outcast and comic book artist. Cody is not having a great holiday season. Not only is there no snow on the ground (the film does take place in Louisiana, after all) but his family seems to be more proud of his athletic older brother, Josh (Arthur Marroquin), than of him. On top of everything else, he’s been grounded because of a less-than flattering picture that he drew of his school’s principal. Cody’s mood would probably improve if he knew that his next door neighbor, Jena (Courtney Lauren Collins), is also into comics but Cody can’t even work up the courage to speak to her.
Cody, however, has received one early Christmas present. Poppa gives him a magic pen, which a frustrated Cody uses to draw a picture of Santa Jaws while complaining about how he wishes his family would just go away. Cody, of course, doesn’t mean what he says. Anyone who has ever been a teenager and who has ever had a bad day will immediately understand that. However, the magic pen doesn’t understand that and soon, Santa Jaws has not only come to life but it’s after Cody’s family!
Now, you may be getting the feeling that Santa Jaws is not meant to be taken too seriously and, in that case, you would be correct. As far as Misty Talley shark movies are concerned, Santa Jaws has more in common with the cheerful meta comedy of Mississippi River Sharks than the dark horror of Zombie Shark. With the exception of one unfortunate elf who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, there’s not a lot of blood in Santa Jaws. However, there are plenty of puns, courtesy of Cody’s best friend, Steve (Hawn Tran). (My favorite was when Steve said that the shark was “gill-ty.”) This is the type of film where, when the comic book store owner (Scott Allen Perry), gets his hands on the pen, he promptly draws a Russian girlfriend, a nice car, and several million dollars. Though a lot of people are eaten over the course of Santa Jaws, neither the film nor the characters lose their sense of humor.
It’s a fun movie and on that delivers exactly what it promises and a whole lot more. It’s a film that gives you a shark with a Santa hat on its fin but it also delivers clever dialogue and committed performances. Reid Miller and Courtney Lauren Cummings are likable protagonists and Hawn Tran and Scott Allen Perry provide effective comedic relief. Arthur Marroquin turns big brother Josh into a nicely rounded character while Jim Klock, Carrie Lazar, Miles Doleac, Haviland Stillwell, and Ritchie Montgomery all have a good moments as the members of Cody’s family. In the end, you really do hope that the family will still manage to have a merry Christmas.
And, of course, there’s the shark. The shark loves Christmas, as we all do. The shark has glowing red eyes, the better to guide your sleigh at night. And yes, the shark wears a Santa cap on its fin.
Santa Jaws was a lot of fun and I’m hoping SyFy will be smart enough to show it every Christmas. At the very least, we need a sequel. Santa Jaws Conquers The Martians, anyone?