It’s been a while..
Next year – July 17 2017 to be exact – it will be the turn of Jaws The Revenge to celebrate it’s 30th birthday. It’s the last chance you have to wish a movie from the Jaws franchise many happy returns. I have a sneaky suspicion that Universal Studios won’t join in the celebrations by releasing a ‘This Time It’s Platinum – Edition’ Blu-ray, neither will TCM’s Robert Osborne deliver a gushing 15-minute monologue praising the film’s nautical nuances. No. It’ll just be us Jaws The Revenge (JTR from here on in) fans sitting on the couch with a bottle of pre-mix Pina Colada in one hand and a Tuna Hoagie in the other.
I know what you’re thinking – “I’d rather wish Birthday Best Wishes to Platinum Dunes, the systematic murderer of Horror Franchises, than to this piece of Carp crap” – and you’d be well within your rational mind to (except for wishing anything other than financial ruin on Platinum Dunes).
I mean, let’s just look at the damming evidence that suggests JTR should be sailed out on the Nantucket Sound and thrown overboard with rocks in its pockets. Firstly JAWS 3D is a thing, and if ever there existed a third thing that indicates that there shouldn’t be a fourth thing, this is the thing. Secondly Sidney Sheinberg, the then Universal Studio Executive, was married to Lorraine Gary (aka Ellen Brody), the sole surviving actor of the franchise, and had green lit the project as a vanity piece for himself and the wife. Finally, and most damning of all, The Revenge plot point itself, the psychic connection between Mrs Brody and The Shark. This connection is not with THE Shark of course, as in the 1975 shark, It’s not even with the 1978 sequel-shark, and It’s certainly not with the floating cadaver that is the 1983 3D shark. These are all very much stone dead parrots sharks. Mrs Brody then is inexplicably experiencing psychic relations with an entirely new fourth shark meaning that JTR is either one long hallucination from the mind of a women suffering from extreme paranoid delusions or Ellen has developed a mind-meld with all living Great Whites.
For these reasons alone the popular consensus (0% on RT – zero!) is that JTR stinks worse than sushi garbage on a hot summer sidewalk. Much like receiving a Birthday Party invite from Pig-Pen (that dusty kid in Charlie Brown) why on earth would you accept, let alone agree to give it another sniff? I say you should sniff. Yes! Get your nose-poke all up in JTR’s biznez.
Just to be clear, I’m not condoning one of those smarky communal viewings where we all poke fun at a shitty movie like it’s a dog with a clown face who’s actually suffering from some kind of facial paralysis. Although this could very easily be done, except for the fact that you’d have to start the movie at around 17 minutes and 30 seconds. You see, for 17 minutes and 30 seconds JTR is very seriously an excellent Jaws sequel. That accounts for approximately 19% percent of the movie (20% if you remove end credits). Trim off that excess 80% fat and you have a wonderfully lean franchise epilogue.
JTR fans will by know where I’m going with this. For any JTR troglodytes or the unbaptized you’re about to have the sea fog cleared by the winds of truth. You see the opening 17 minutes and thirty seconds of JTR are franchise gold. It’s a sequence that’s so tight, so on point, so cannon, that it all in one accomplishes both the removal of JAWS 3D from your conscience and a direct return to the Brody/Amity narrative last seen when the credits rolled on JAWS 2.
We open the movie back on Amity Island (and yes the crew went back to Martha’s Vineyard – no cheap Californian coastal option here) and that all so familiar Amity look and feel. In short, Jaws fans are back home and fan service is dished out like shrimp at a Red Lobster bottomless-shrimp-bucket-buffet. It’s 17 minutes and 30 seconds that plays out like a ride on an Amity Island Universal Studios bus tour: “Hang out with the local Martha’s Vineyard background extras. Revisit with Polly – the Amity Police secretary. Look! There’s Mrs Kitner. Take a cruise on the Amity car ferry. Kids, keep an eye out for framed photos of legendary Chief Brody – spot two and win a roll of Quint’s piano wire”.
Did I mention that this opening takes place over Christmas? The streets and beaches of Amity look genuinely cold, the real snow adding a distinct visual difference to the familiar scenery we’re so used to seeing over the summer months. The filmmakers go hard in these scenes to create the feeling of Amity Island and JAWS cannon. JAWS 3D strayed too far from shore: Why is Sean a Cowboy? Why is Michael Dennis Quaid? Isn’t Sea World land-locked?
Perhaps the best decision of all is promoting Sean Brody to Sheriff, following in his father’s footsteps. In a bold move (spoiler alert) Sean is killed off early doors during a particularly bloody encounter with Shark#4. It’s Sean’s death that leads to the return of Michael Brody and therein the narrative device for getting Ellen (and us) off the island and away to the Caribbean; dropping the curtain on this stellar 17 minutes and 30 seconds. This of course is the movie’s downfall. From here on in we’re plunged deep into those Rotten Tomatoes and reminded of 3D Dennis Quaid sweat patches (watch JAWS 3D again, he sweats a lot). But what a 17 minutes and 30 seconds that is. Stop the movie right there. Disembark from your Amity Island Universal Studios tour bus, don’t forget to tip your driver, and we sincerely hope you enjoyed your trip down memory lane.
So what’s the point? It’s still a shitty movie where Michael Caine, during his brown period, Cockney’s his way around The Bahamas like an embarrassing uncle with a chub-on who just swiped right on Ellen Brody’s Tinder profile. The point is that we live In the age of the internets where we have the ability to repurpose film history a little to suit our wanton needs.
For instance, you know that Star Wars Machete Cut thing that does the internet rounds (It’s like parts 4, 5, 2, 3, 6 or something)? It’s meant to enhance the viewing pleasure of that franchise in an order that improves the Skywalker story arch. JTR provides us JAWS fans with a conclusion piece of sorts to the Brody Family story arch. Watch JAWS, JAWS 2, and the opening 17 minutes and 30 seconds of JTR. Follow the Brody family as the patriarch encounters a shark in 1975, the kids are endangered in JAWS 2, and the son pays for the sins of the father in JTR (opening 17 minutes and 30 seconds). It’s not perfect, and it sadly cuts out Ellen’s insane mutant mind skills, but it’s more satisfactory than stopping at JAWS 2.
So when July 2017 rolls around and JTR passes you a folded paper party invite at the High School lockers should you greatly RSVP in the resoundingly positive? Or should you say “Sorry JTR, I’d love to attend your Birthday Bash at The Frying Dutchman, but Sharron’s having her Bat Mitzvah”? Like a parallel universe Nancy Reagan I suggest that you just say yes. Open up your heart to JTR (opening 17 minutes and 30 seconds aka Epilogue) and let it swim in – but just the tip, or 20% to be precise.
Here’s to you Jaws The Revenge. 30 years young. Your mighty front-loaded tip is all the end I need.