Man at His Best

Opinion: What's The Deal With Stupid Films Like Sharknado?

Fin Carew wonders if he's sick of stupid films because he's grown up, or because they suck.

BY Fin Carew | May 26, 2016 | Film & TV

Recently, I stumbled along the trailer for Shark Exorcist. Cos, y’know, sharks plus [insert literally anything] equals funny, right? It’s not like we’ve had to sit through 2-Headed Shark Attack, Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark, Sharktopus, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, Dinoshark and Mega Shark vs Coming to Terms with Mental Entropy, is it? It’s probably no surprise that only one of those is made up. Now I hear Dead 7 is coming from Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter—featuring boyband members fighting zombies—making me think, “Jeez, isn’t it time we grew up a bit?”

As the slew of student-style, inexplicably budgeted movies keeps getting more “quirky”, big-budget franchises want to move in the other direction. DC, for instance, thinks we should be taking superheroes more seriously. The Blu-Ray release of Batman v Superman will be a more violent, darker version, which really suits a film with a title character wearing kawaii bat ears. DC thinks we should grow up, but if that were really possible, we’d put down the comic books and go get a job, or pay taxes, or something. The problem isn’t about maturity or growing up, but stagnation. Films like Sharknado aren’t stupid because they exist; they’re stupid because they centre on an unoriginal, tired, old joke. The setup may be different, but the punchline is the same.

We can’t stop these weirdoes from making stupid films, but even if we could, we shouldn’t. At some point (albeit not at some point soon), there will be a discussion where someone says, “Hey, I think the giant shark with octopus legs fighting a fire-breathing, flying tampon is a bit cliché”, and a blanket of silence will descend upon the room as all present realise the shark idea has jumped the… y’know. That’s when new ideas from weirdoes will start coming. What did we get when low-budget, weirdo rejects scrounged together enough funds to make a low-budget, student-style movie in the ’80s? We got Bad Taste, a fantastically bizarre adventure in pointlessness pushing forward the career of director Peter-effing-Jackson.

Besides, what’s so important about growing up anyway? If Toy Story 3 taught us anything (other than it’s totally okay for grown men to cry), it’s that we can’t easily grow out of things that had such a huge impact on our childhood. With movie adaptations of Power Rangers, Where’s Wally, Barbie and My Little Pony on the way, we’re not being let go anytime soon, even if we wanted to. Also, please pretend I didn’t include the latter two on that list.

The indie film scene receiving regular funding is a great thing, and Singapore especially needs as much encouragement (both financially and creatively) as possible to get out there and keep making stuff. But being low budget doesn’t excuse low quality. El Mariachi had a budget of USD7,000. No doubt a larger budget will be sourced for Mega Shark and Michael Fassbender Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Zombie Godzilla.

From: Esquire Singapore's May 2016 issue.