Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...
Year of Release: 1978
Running Time: 117 minutes (1:57)
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Roy Scheider ... Police Chief Martin Brody
Lorraine Gary ... Ellen Brody
Murray Hamilton ... Mayor Larry Vaughn
Joseph Mascolo ... Len Peterson
Jeffrey Kramer ... Deputy Jeff Hendricks
Collin Wilcox Paxton ... Dr. Lureen Elkins
Ann Dusenberry ... Tina Wilcox
Mark Gruner ... Michael 'Mike' Brody
Barry Coe ... Tom Andrews
Susan French ... Grace Witherspoon - Old Lady
Gary Springer ... Andy Nicholas
Donna Wilkes ... Jackie Peters
Gary Dubin ... Eddie Marchand
John Dukakis ... Paul 'Polo' Loman
G. Thomas Dunlop ... Timmy Weldon
David Elliott ... Larry Vaughn Jr.
Marc Gilpin ... Sean Brody
Keith Gordon ... Doug Fetterman
Cindy Grover ... Lucy
Ben Marley ... Patrick
Martha Swatek ... Marge
Billy Van Zandt ... Bob
Gigi Vorgan ... Brooke Peters
The horror is far from over! Four years after the great white shark terrorized the small resort of Amity, unsuspecting vacationers begin disappearing in an all-too-familiar fashion.
Only one man knows the truth. Academy Award winning producer Richard D. Zanuck ("Rules Of Engagement", "Deep Impact") brings the next installment of this frightening series with Roy Scheider reprising his role as Police Chief Brody.
Jaws 2. Some serious life lessons to be learned from this one. Lets just put it all out there. History repeats itself; yet, nobody learns a thing from it. People see what they want to. If it's bad, they pretend it's something else, when it's cryptic, they're sure it's their preference. Authority is worth denying, even if it means you'll probably die, you'll have died a big man. And most importantly, sequels almost always fall short of their predecessors, but they don't have to fall too short. But I'd like to talk about hysteria. People whipping themselves up into a state of uselessness. It's bad enough that they have to be screaming at the top of their lungs, as if they believe that if they're able to shatter a glass in the next room, all of their problems will go away. But not only are they doing nothing to help the situation, they're running a metaphorical cheese grater over everyone elses brain while they're trying to solve the problem. Basic survival instinct suggests that the rational people who happen to be saddled with these idiots should sacrifice them to whatever is causing the distress. Not only will that slow it down, but it'll buy them time to come up with something to save their bacon. But do they? No, no of course not. The strong must protect the mentally feeble. And who said chivalry is dead. There's a fine line between chivalry and stupidity. There are those who would suggest that it's the same line, but that's neither here nor there. This strategy is not doing any favors for Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. In fact, these white knights may well be trying to subvert Darwin. Prove he's wrong. Build more evidence for creationism. But anyway, what do you suppose happens to those brave souls who put themselves in danger on behalf of the dead weight? Well, historically, they're generally massacred or eaten by whatever it is that's stalking them. That part is, however, natural selection at work. While they may be preventing the sickly gazelle from being picked off, stupidity is just as high on the predator check list. An that's all I've got to say about that. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER MAN.
So Jaws 2 begins with some under water photographers snapping some pictures of the now waterlogged Orca (the boat they needed a bigger one of in the original), 4 years after the fact. While they're taking pictures a marine Cuisinart gets the drop on em an brings an abrupt end to their photography session, and the rumblie in its tumblie. Meanwhile Mayor McSleaze from the first movie is giving a remarkably irrelevant speech at the high school, generally for the benefit of all the yuppy parents whose snowflakes that were raised by "the help" are going to graduate shortly. I think. Like I said, really irrelevant. Anyway, Brody shows up late, but not too late to be bored to tears in a matter of moments, makes some inane small talk with the mayor and his wife's boss, an clears out. Then all the little yuppy high school kids go out on their boats an pelt each other with water balloons an talk about how great it'll be when their parents die so they can collect their inheritance an spend it all on hookers an blow. Elsewhere, a mother an daughter are out water skiing until Razorface shows up an sinks his teeth into the daughter an uses her ski to pick the blonde chunks out from between his teeth. But then mom gets all nosy an Jaws has to put his nosy through the side of her boat to teach her a lesson. Then they play ring around the nosy. She tries to hit em with a gas can but mostly just saturates herself an the boat with fuel an shoots a flare gun at em, unfortunately she went to the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy an hits the boat an within moments the boat's nothing more than flaming debris. Then some of the yuppy kids find a rotting orca carcass on the beach with a bite mark so big that the marine biologist is able to positively identify it as either that of a great white shark, or Steven Tyler. So Brody sticks his son with a menial labor job an grounds him so he won't turn into a human chum bucket, then goes to talk to the mayor about getting the beaches closed again. But we're at least one corpse short of the mayor agreeing to that, so he says no way and for some reason, Brody is still surprised. Then Brody heads down to the beach, sees a piece of floating wreckage an heads in after it, only he gets more than he bargains for an a char broiled Barbie doll pops out an tries to make out with him.
The next day, Brody climbs up to his tower where he should be picking off the mayor and people with enough cellulite to block out the sun, but mostly he's just there to watch for the shark. Before too long he thinks he's got his quarry in his sights, so he calmly and rationally runs screaming down to the beach waving his gun around, scaring the bejezus out of the entire beach populous an emptying his pistol into the shadow beneath the waves. Much to his chagrin, he realizes he's shot up a school of fish, nobody's much interested in swimming anymore, and the mayor puts on his disappointed face an walks away without so much as a word. Then the deputy realizes that thing designed to steal people's souls that fell to the ocean floor when the two photographers got swallowed by the living meat tenderizer earlier in the movie might have some pictures in it. So he gets em developed an Brody takes a somewhat cryptic image over to the city council, makes a scene, tries to convince them that the thing that looks rather like a shark is in fact a shark, fails, gets his walking papers, gets hammered, an makes it home with just enough time to spare before he passes out. All in a day's work. So while Brody's sleeping off the drunk, his oldest sneaks out to risk his life sailing because he thinks there's a chance he might get some tail, but the youngest catches him an blackmails him into taking him with. So the yuppy teens head out to sea, but Big Pointy is hot on their trail, stopping only long enough to gnaw on a group of divers looking for lobsters. Meanwhile, Brody's heading to the office to clear all the beer bottles off his desk so the new police chief will have a place to set his personal effects when he spots an ambulance an just can't shake the feeling that all those mutilated bodies showing up have to mean something. The divers tell him that a big nasty white trash disposal tried to eat them, an that a group of young punks passed by their boat just before the shark turned their buddy into squashed tomatoes.
A couple of the yuppy kids go off on their own to rock the boat, only Jaws rocks it for em an puts the OMNOMNOM on the male that falls in. The girl hunkers down an makes noises like her daddy just cut her out of the will until Brody, his wife, an the deputy show up. Brody sends the extras back to shore an heads out to rescue the insolent little brats from the situation they've gotten themselves into, despite being off the clock. A few minutes have passed since Chewy got ahold of the diver an he's having a major Big Mac attack, so he wanders on over to the yuppies' pitiful little boats an turns a few of em upside down an makes the girls do their best Jamie Lee Curtis impression an bonks the elder Brody child's head into a mast an pretty quick he's doing his buoy impression. A couple of the little shits pull him out an decide to head for shore to get help. They run into big Brody on the way an he tells em to get their shit heel asses back to shore an go tell their daddies what they've done. But Brody's about had it with everyone thinking he's nothing more than a paranoid with post traumatic stress syndrome, an he heads out to rescue the incapacitated dependents. Meanwhile the Harbor Patrol has come across the missing yuppies an lands his chopper so he can get a rope to em an tow em back to town an impound their boats. But Big Hungry has other plans an he latches onto the chopper an drags it under an gives all the yuppy kids a terminal case of sad face. While Brody's lost at sea, Jaws uses the ole nasal battering ram on the boats a couple more times until another tasty morsel drops into the drink an he runs her through the meat grinders. Then, after a lot of hysterical crying, whining, blubbering and an occasional smattering of blood splattering, the tide has actually carried the yuppies to within reach of the shoreline. About this time Brody shows up an just when it seems their three hour tour is about to come to an end, Big Angry pops up one more time, scares Brody so bad he crashes his boat onto the shore, an makes sure he'll never get his deposit back. By this point Brody's had a pretty shitty week an he's about had it with this fish fillet from Hell, an he's got a plan to send the bastard over to Long John Silver's where he belongs. End attempted humor/spoilers.
As sequels go, Jaws 2 is pretty good. But as sequels also go, it's missing elements that made the first movie better. What cripples Jaws 2 worse than anything is the lack of enjoyable characters and how they interact with each other. In my review of Jaws, I mentioned how much was added to the movie by the interaction of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. And how without that, no special effects could make the movie great, strictly upon the strength of the special effects. So here you go. It's really not that much different than the first movie, but those two characters are now gone and it must rely upon the special effects to carry it. The shark is almost as good as it was in the first movie, not quite, but close. So little has changed on that front, but it's obvious that something's missing. That something is the character interaction. Roy's really the only character we give a hoot about. In the first movie we gave a damn when Jaws was attacking the orca an threatening to gobble up one of the characters we enjoyed, but here, these teenagers all run together an it's more or less Friday the 13th on the ocean, with Jaws standing in for Jason Voorhees. (Yes, I realize Jaws and even Jaws 2 came first, save the emails) They're just body count fodder, which is fine in Friday the 13th or Halloween, but with the original setting a precedent for having characters that matter, it's disappointing to have to eat crow. Other than that single point, the rest of the movie is perfectly adequate, as sequels go. A lot of sequels lose critical elements on a wide range of subjects, so running Jaws 2 into the ground for losing just one (particularly when one of the main characters from the first movie was killed near the end of it) is simply an unacceptable way of looking at it. The shark still looks good, the shooting locations are still there, good soundtrack, good acting from the characters that require it, and overall a plot that's good enough for a sequel, but that's lacking in many of the little touches that made the first movie's plot so good. As a personal hero of mine, one Joe Bob Briggs would say, there's a lot less plot getting in the way of the story, when compared to the original Jaws.
Overall, a worthy sequel. This is probably where they should have stopped in the series, as there's a serious quality decline after Jaws 2. But I guess the title had enough marquee value that they wanted to keep the steady flow of minimum wage money rolling in. It's not comparable to say, Friday the 13th, Halloween, or Nightmare on Elm Street, because those movies were never intended to become blockbuster hits. There's really no reason why those series shouldn't have churned out sequel after sequel with little regard for quality because first of all, it wasn't too hard to keep up with what they'd done in the first film, as they didn't really require much to make. Matter of fact, from my perspective, both Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street have sequels that are better than the originals. But anyway, the point is, it's usually not a good idea to make sequels to big budget, blockbuster type movies. And if you do, always stop at two. The 3rd time's a charm, if your intention is to slander the legacy of the original. The 3rd movie in a hit series does this without exception. Jaws 2 is just a tad on the "meh" side. Perhaps if Spielberg had directed again it would have had a little more of what it's missing. Or perhaps that would have just been less money to pay for special effects, I tend to think the former, but it could just as easily be the way the screenplay was written. It really could have used a new Richard Dreyfuss, or maybe they could have elevated the importance of Brody's deputy, SOMETHING. Roy Scheider does the best he can on his own, but there's just no way to go from the chemistry the three characters had in the first movie to this without a serious drop in the quality of the end product. I realize I keep harping on that, but it's really the crux of why the movie is only decent and not great. The worst part is that Spielberg and Dreyfuss were only held back by the fact that Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind was running behind in its production schedule. I guess that's as good a reason as any, because Close Encounters is the better movie. But would it have been if Spielberg and Dreyfuss had been able to participate here? Too close to call. Jaws 2, stupid people versus giant garbage disposal, round 2, good enough for a blind buy.