Remember the hot blondes from those old Double Mint commercials? Gorgeous twins like that make folks silly for something and it might as well be chewing gum. Sure Kimmi's a corporate lawyer and Bambi's an exotic dancer, but danged if they don't LOOK exactly alike. That's Jaws and Jaws 2 (1978, 117 minutes). Steven Spielberg's original was a transcendent piece of cinema, and while its twin pales cerebrally, Jaws 2 still sells out three shows a night at Cheetahs.
The movie: When last we found Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) he was dog-paddling his way back to Amity as seagulls were angling tiny chunks of the first fearsome Great White down their gullets. Nearly five years later, divers are exploring the wreck of the Orca when surprise, surprise ANOTHER toothy beast stops by for dinner. But the poor fella is horribly burned when, after swallowing down an Olympic skier, he attempts to have the speed boat and its remaining occupant for dessert and the whole thing BLOWS UP in his snout. Ouch! Naturally, pre-chewed lunchables start washing up and Brody starts seeing great big sharks everywhere down to the milk in his corn flakes. Being a movie, no one believes him and -- presto -- we have suspense. Well, actually, there's a heckuva lot of SAILING going on. Beautiful montages of vast open ocean with hormonal teens cruising and cavorting among the waves. But there's always that DA-DUM! DA-DUM! music to remind us the big guy is lurking nearby and still smarting over his charcoal mug enough to want to settle the score. So, as one might guess, Martin must once again suck up all his fears, or just wait for Jaws to swim home after eating his fill of surf 'n' turf. Various members of the Brody clan would also face Bruce the Shark Puppet in Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenge (starring Michael Cain!) Part 3 had a nifty floating arm that horrified me as an 11-year-old, and the flick joined a batch of third-part forays into the wacky world of cardboard shades during the '80s -- namely Amityville 3-D and Friday the 13th: Part 3. CineSchlockers should note that Miss Amity (Tina played by Ann Dusenberry) expanded her craft from parading around in short-shorts to fully showcasing her gifts in a handful of other movies. In fact, Ms. Dusenberry got nekkid with Roy Scheider in The Men's Club.
Notables: No breasts. Seven corpses. Water-balloon attack. Exploding boat. One dead whale. Lobster harassment. Pre-diddle sharkus interruptus. Boozing. Pesky little brother.
Quotables: Tina proves beauty queens are high maintenance, "Get out the blankets. I've got black and blue marks all over my butt, and my mom's starting to get up tight about it!" Chief Brody emotes, "He's out there alright! And he's a BIG mother!!!" and "Come on you big bastard! Open wide!!!"
Time codes: Giant extension cord dredged up from ocean floor (25:30). Sharks love rap music (30:25). Eureka! A highly detailed photo of the face on Mars! (50:30). One of the yellow barrels from the first film (57:20). Scheider sticks out his tongue (1:09:50). Rescue helicopter becomes a very expensive Big Gulp (1:30:50). Donna Wilkes completely looses it (1:42:30).
Audio/Video: The widescreen (2.35:1) print is generally pretty good, but there are a fair amount of artifacts present throughout. The utilitarian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is crisp and serves John Williams's score reasonably well.
Extras: A 45-minute documentary about why making mechanical shark movies is really, really hard. It's clip heavy, but features fairly candid interviews with the producers, director and screenwriter. CineSchlockers will more likely appreciate the 8-minute interview with Keith Gordon as he's played a skinny dork in great genre pictures like Christine, Back to School and a personal favorite Combat Academy. That's the TV-movie where he and a fellow prankster are court-ordered into a star-studded military school and hijinks ensue. Apparently Keith was the only actor from Jaws 2 they could scare up for the disc. As a member of the teen cast, he hints about on-set romances over the protracted shoot, but stops short of any juicy details. In another interview, composer John Williams swears to us that he really did write NEW music for the film. In an amusing segment, director Jeannot Szwarc explains how the flick's title had to be changed in France to avoid an unfortunate play on words. About four minutes of mostly forgettable deleted scenes, but the underwater shot of Bruce attacking the chopper pilot is fun to see. There's also gobs of production photos, storyboards, shark facts, cast bios and theatrical trailers.
Final thought: A retread sequel that delivered what audiences wanted, without insulting them in the process. With less sailing, more blood and some gratuitous bikini slippage -- we'd be talking about an all-time classic. Highly Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.