the Movie Club Annals ...

  
 

Jaws: The Revenge

 
 

Rating: 10 Wedges

 

 

Reviewed by Carl R.

 
 
 

The Wedge

  

"Better to have a wedge and not need it than to need a wedge and not have it."

Caspar Weinberger, 1987

 

   

If you are looking for an enriching viewing experience, look not to Jaws: The Revenge (J4)J4 is cinematically bankrupt of  redeeming values, save one notable exception; it sets out to frighten its viewers, and succeeds in doing so in grand fashion. But this sole gratification comes saddled with a disparaging asterisk, for the primary source of fear in J4 is supposed to be the sinister, vengeful, misbegotten shark of Jaws renown, but instead turns out to be the sinister, vengeful, misbegotten "wedge" coiffure of Ellen Brody.  
 
To put it gently, Ellen Brody has matured rather awkwardly in the 12+ years between J1 and J4. Aside from her unnervingly gaunt appearance, she comes across as a poster-child for the worst of all the bad 80's fashion trends. There is, of course, her previously-mentioned wedge-do bouffant. But added to that are her Flashdance-inspired knee-length sweaters, her elephantine shoulder pads, and her windshield-sized sunglasses.
 
As for the sweaters, they probably weren't needed in the 100-degree tropical heat, and Mrs. Brody could have spared herself some embarrassment by leaving them back in Amity. She probably could have left the shoulder pads behind too, unless, as we suspect, they were actually surgically implanted silicone piano benches.  The sunglasses may have been a blessing of sorts, but further comment on that is best left to the imagination.  
  
But so it goes, the scurvy tale of J4, a tale so perverse that the title creature is upstaged by a mutant haircut and some rogue accessories. Let us proceed ...
 
  
 

jaws_revenge_wedge_side.JPG (13715 bytes)

jaws4_shark_ns.JPG (58176 bytes)

Scary

Not Scary

  

A giant styrofoam shark (genus Meglafoam) of unexplained ancestry and gender takes issue with the Brody Bunch for killing its parent shark in Jaws 3D, its grandshark in Jaws 2, and its great-grandshark in the original Jaws. Apparently, the widely accepted theory that sharks cannot reproduce after they are dead is being put to the test here.  Barring the possibility that our Meglafoam shark is the love child of two consenting Sealy Posturepedic mattresses, we are left only with the possibility that it was conceived of some sort of immaculate distension.    

   

 

 jaws4_meglafoam.JPG (69195 bytes)

Meglafoam in Action

 
Almost immediately following the opening credits, Meglafoam appears and eats the local sheriff, who happens to be one of the Brody Bunch boys. His father, Sheriff Brody Sr., has inexplicably died by now, as is signified by his billboard-sized portrait in the Amityville police station. The Brody Bunch spends about two minutes grieving for their recently-eaten kin, after which they fly off to the Floribbean Islands for some rest and relaxation.  Meglafoam, being of the telepathic ilk of synthetic predator, senses that the Brody Bunch is trying to escape, and tracks them over their entire 4000-mile airborne journey until all involved converge in the Floribbean Islands.  
   
 

jaws4_brodysr_portrait.JPG (15729 bytes)

Chief Brody Sr. Enshrined

 
While on the plane ride to the Floribbeans, Mrs. Brody meets and falls for the pilot, Hoagie (a.k.a. "Hokey"), portrayed by none other than the lazy, shiftless, disinterested, philandering alcoholic, Michael Caine. For most women, such a pairing might be considered less than ideal. But for the wedged one, her romantic options being somewhat limited, sheer joy abounds.  In fact, the wedged one and Hokey are so happy they literally dance in the streets, creating a scene so undignified as to actually subvert Michael Caine's previously-held celluloid low point in "Blame it On Rio".

  

 

 jaws4_caine_wedge_dance.JPG (59697 bytes)

How Low can You Go?

 
Once settled in the Floribbeans, we find that the remaining Brody boy has secured a multi-million dollar grant to study the migratory habits of conks. Yes, you read that correctly. Once settled in the Floribbeans, we find that the remaining Brody boy has secured a multi-million dollar grant to study the migratory habits of conks. This particular aspect of J4's storyline is of a rather 'gelatinous' foundation, even in relation to its already unsound backdrop. 
 
 

 jaws4_plane_lap.JPG (16341 bytes)

jaws4_migrating_conks.JPG (16644 bytes)

No Comment

Migratory Conks, in Formation

 
 
But J4, not satisfied with mere incredulousness, has given the surviving Brody boy a physical irregularity to further distract us from whatever other thin plot tripe might be lazing by at the moment, lest the wedge-effect begin to wear thin in that respect. The Brody boy has legs so long that even we who inhabit size 40W x 29L chinos can credibly ridicule his pants size, estimated to be 28W x 78L.  Perhaps the Brody boy used his wedge-mom's shoulder implant surgeon to have radical knee extension surgery done.  Perhaps the camera really does add ten feet.  Perhaps he is just a stupid ugly idiot whom we will now christen as "Brody Long Legs".  

   

 

 jaws4_brody_long_legs.JPG (17671 bytes)

Brody Long Legs

 
Moving along to Captain Brody Long Leg's conk-tracking boat, we meet his conking partner, Jake, a purported Rasta portrayed by Mario van Peebles. Jake, a.k.a. "Faux Rasta", delivers his lines in an accent so unintelligible that he manages to elude being understood even a single time throughout the entire movie. But this may be important. Perhaps Faux Rasta's lines are the key to an otherwise cryptic storyline. Perhaps Faux Rasta has important things to say. Perhaps Faux Rasta is just a stupid ugly idiot who's biggest contribution to J4 is delivering an incomprehensible vacuum of dialogue into a destitute void of a plot.   
  
 

 jaws4_fake_rasta_spear.JPG (20300 bytes)

Faux Rasta

 
This brings us back around to Hokey and the distasteful memory of him planting a kiss on Mrs. Brody.  An unpleasant memory for us, anyway, as His Drunkenness probably has no recollection of it.  One wonders how many ounces/gallons of alcohol must be consumed before the wedged-one begins to look appealing. Only Hokey knows for sure, but we'll trust that he thoroughly tested these limits, and we'll leave it at that.
 
 

 j4_caine_wedge.JPG (18963 bytes)

Right Before the Kiss

 
As J4's plot plods along, the wedged-one begins to sense the presence of Meglafoam.  No one believes her, probably because of a haircut-induced credibility problem, but Meglafoam soon turns up at the local beach and snacks on a bather or two. The wedged-one becomes particularly incensed at this, and shows it by wedge-walking to the nearest pier and stealing a sailboat so she can go out and confront Meglafoam on a wedge-to-shark basis.  
  
Once in the open sea, the wedged-one issues a challenge to Meglafoam; "Come and get me, you son of a bitch."  Meglafoam obliges, and lunges out of the water directly at her. Right at that moment, Hokey buzzes the stolen sailboat in his plane, and the wedged-one, not wanting to damage the plane, quickly ducks out of the way, causing both Meglafoam and the plane to miss her by mere milliwedges. 
 
 

 jaws4_come_get_me.JPG (13747 bytes)

jaws4_fin.JPG (21342 bytes)

jaws4_just_miss.JPG (61110 bytes)

Come and Get Me ...

Not a problem ... 

Saved by the Buzz!

 
 
Here begin the various plans to save the wedged-one from Meglafoam;

Hokey tries to choke Meglafoam by feeding it his his plane after crashing-landing it into the ocean. It doesn't work, and Hokey, presumed dead, has to rescue himself in a mad-dash swim to the stolen sailboat. Upon reaching the sailboat, Hokey is miraculously bone-dry.  Perhaps he is a fast swimmer. Perhaps he got a piggy-back ride from Brody Long Legs. Perhaps he is just a stupid ugly idiot who is too inebriated to care about blatant continuity errors.
   
 

 jaws_hokey_dry.JPG (19487 bytes)

Bone Dry, After a Swim

 
Faux Rasta, seeing that Hokey's brilliant plan failed, steps up next. Faux's plan is to throw an alarm clock - and himself - down the throat of Meglafoam in hopes of choking old Meg with a stock of ticking dreadlocks. Meglafoam takes the bait, but Faux Rasta's plan is a bust. Within seconds, Meglafoam, the alarm clock, and Faux Rasta uneventfully disappear beneath the surface of the water, giving the viewer the faint hope that Faux Rasta has finally embarked on the eternal search for Bob Marley.  
 
Even the wedged-one has a plan, which is to sit on the deck of the stolen sailboat and repeatedly shift a mysterious lever until ...? We don't know what this was supposed to accomplish, but we do know that Meglafoam survived the wedged-one's attack, completely unscathed.  

  

 

 jaws4_wedge_lever.JPG (20016 bytes)

The Mysterious Lever Maneuver

 
Finally, enter Brody Long Legs with a plan so cunning, so shrewd, so ingenious, that not even the writers of J4 could understand it. Brody Long Leg's plan is to throw an explosive alarm clock down Meglafoam's throat, taunt Meglafoam into breaching like a whale, use the ship's broken bow spar to ram Meglafoam's stomach in the precise location of the previously-swallowed explosive alarm clock,  cause a catastrophic explosion, and reduce Meglafoam to a cloud of fine shark dust.  Bingo. It works. Brody Long Legs, heir apparent to the Brody Bunch, has pulled the pillow tags off Meglafoam for good. 
 
 

 

Meglafoam, at the Precise Moment of Impact

 
J4 concludes with the wedged-one flying off into the sunset with Hokey in a plane that no longer exists because it was eaten by Meglafoam earlier in the film. This is a trivial detail in the grand scheme of things, and after 87 long and painful minutes, we are anxious to move on to the next project.  
 
For all its glorious deficiencies, J4 simply transcended the relevancy of rank-and-file continuity errors, and thus undeservedly escaped magnitudes of otherwise apropos criticisms.  Rather, J4 was a premier example of style over substance, the style being the wedge, and the substance being styrofoam. 
 
CR
 
 
 
 
 
Interesting quotations:
   
"Sometimes I let interesting people sit on my lap."
Michael Caine (Hoagie Newcomb), 1987
 
"Come and get me, you son-of-a-bitch."
Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), 1987
 
"Zero Stars…Jaws: The Revenge is not simply a bad movie, but also a stupid and incompetent one…The screenplay is simply a series of meaningless episodes of human behavior, punctuated by shark attacks…." 
— Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, 1987
 

"Why don't they all just move to Oklahoma and forget about the whole thing?"
Liz C., 2004

 
"I am still trying to find any redeeming values with J4. It wasn't even funny, like The Bees."
Karin F., 2004