Yesterday was Sharknado Day.
What is Sharknado Day? If you have to ask, you’ll never understand. Sharknado Day is the day that the latest chapter in The Asylum’s Sharknado franchise premieres on SyFy. That’s the day when people like me cause twitter to go over capacity tweeting about the film. That’s the day good people all across America try to count the number of celebrity cameos while also trying to keep track of all of the homages and references to past movies that are always waiting to be found in every Sharknado Film. Yesterday was the sixth Sharknado Day since 2013 and, if we’re to believe our friends at The Asylum, it was also the last Sharknado Day.
Is it true? Was The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time truly the final Sharknado? Perhaps. But somehow, I have a feeling that the flying sharks will return someday. Critics have always underestimated the production savvy of The Asylum and I wouldn’t be shocked if, after a year or two of nostalgia, we saw Sharknado 7: A New Beginning.
But if The Last Sharknado was truly the final Sharknado, then it can be said that the franchise truly went out on a high note.
The plot — well, usually, the conventional wisdom is that the plot of a Sharknado movie really doesn’t matter. Usually, it’s assumed that all a Sharknado film needs is a lot of shark mayhem and snarky humor. And that’s true, to an extent. And yet, I still found myself getting caught up in The Last Sharknado‘s storyline. It all deals with Fin (Ian Ziering), April (Tara Reid), the head of a robot version of April (again, Tara Reid), Nova (Cassandra Scerbo), and Skye (Vivica A. Fox) traveling through time, hopping from period to period. Fin and April’s goal is to stop the first Sharknado and to save the life of their son, Gil. Nova wants to save the life of her grandfather, even though that might change history to the extent that she would never become a great shark hunter. As for the robot head … well, she develops an agenda of her own, one that really has to be seen to be believed.
The film has a lot of time travel and, of course, the journey from period to period allows for several celebrity cameos. When Fin ends up in Arthurian Britain, Neil deGrasse Tyson pops up as Merlin. During the Revolutionary War, a somewhat sarcastic General Washington is played by Darrell Hammond. Dee Snider plays a sheriff in the old west. Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott show on the beach in the 60s. Touchingly, the film even finds a way to include the late John Heard in the action. (Heard played a key supporting role in the first Sharknado.) I’m a history nerd, so I enjoyed all of the time travel. I especially enjoyed the film’s portrayal of Benjamin Franklin as a rather bitchy eccentric, largely because it’s often forgotten that Franklin was, in real life, a bit of a bitchy eccentric.
(Add to that, how can you resist a film the features both dinosaurs and flying sharks?)
The film takes a surprisingly dark turn during the second hour, as Fin and Skye spend some time in a dystopian future and Nova tries to change history by saving her grandfather’s life. When Fin points out that doing so will change history and that, for Nova to become a great shark hunter, her grandfather has to die, Nova calls him out for being self-centered. To their credit, both Cassie Scerbo and Ian Ziering play the argument totally straight and both give heartfelt performances. Amid all of the comedy and the shark-related mayhem, the film develops a real heart.
That heart is at the center of The Last Sharknado. To a large extent, the sharks are superfluous. They’re carnivorous MacGuffins. Instead, the film is about celebrating not only the bonds between Fin, April, Nova, and all of their friends but also the bond that’s been developed between the characters and those of us who have watched them over the course of six films. Towards the end of the film, when Fin talks about what his friends and family mean to him, it’s clear that he’s also speaking for the filmmakers. Just as Fin thanks his friends for sticking with him, the filmmakers take the time to thank the audience for sticking with them. It was a heartfelt scene and it was the perfect way to end The Last Sharknado.
To those who do not celebrate Sharknado Day, it may seem strange to say that I got emotional while watching the final scene of The Last Sharknado on Sunday night. Then again, is it any stranger than the idea of a franchise about a bunch of sharks flying through the air, spinning around in a funnel, becoming a major pop cultural milestone?
It’s a strange world and we’re all the better for it.