Four years after the events of the original "Jaws", the town of Amity suddenly experiences series of mysterious boating accidents and disappearances. Chief of Police, Martin Brody, fears that another shark is out there, but he is ignored by the townsfolk. Unfortunately, he's right - there is another Great White in the sea.Written by
There are five scenes edited from the theatrical cut of the film that were re-added to the Television Version:
Ellen, adding wine to the fruit punch, and tells the waitress to smile and look cute.
Brody, given Peterson a parking ticket because, he was parking at a "No Parking" zone. Peterson tries to talk Brody out of giving him the ticket, and a half-exasperated half-joking Brody tells Peterson to just "pay the two dollars."
The Council argues about the incident at the beach before Brody turns up with the photograph. Len Peterson wears down Vaughn until he agrees that action needs to be taken against Brody.
The Council goes into Mayor Vaughn's office to take a vote to fire Brody; Mayor Vaughn alone votes against Brody's firing.
The shark attacks the helicopter pilot, after capsizing it underwater.
'Jaws' was the first summer blockbuster, and so, naturally, it is among the first examples of a great film being followed up with a cynical, B-grade commercial flick intent on exploiting its predecessor's success.
The first tip that something is amiss is the absence of director Steven Spielberg. The second item missing-in-action is Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper. Rather than re-casting the character, script-doctor Carl Gottlieb (who also re-wrote Peter Benchley's original screenplay for the first 'Jaws', and appears in that film as Meadows, editor of the Amity newspaper) wrote Hooper out completely, having the character far away and out of radio contact off the coast of Australia on the Aurora, the 'floating asylum' for shark scientists Dreyfuss's Hooper mentions in the first film.
One of the most appealing aspects of 'Jaws' is the buddy-relationship between Brody (Roy Scheider) and Hooper, so 'Jaws 2' starts off with a huge disadvantage, even for B-grade schlock. Fortunately, the script does not employ a replacement for Quint, the mad shark hunter who meets his end in the original, but there is some attempt to enlarge the character of Deputy Hendricks (Jeff Kramer) as a sort of surrogate for Hooper. But in 'Jaws 2' Brody is pretty much a man alone, and you can't help but feel a little sorry for Roy Scheider, who, unlike Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss, has been mostly confined to roles in B-movies like this one and supporting roles in independent films since the gargantuan success of 'Jaws'. He's a great actor and a good sport in 'Jaws 2', playing Brody with as much conviction as anyone could muster for such a silly story.
The premise, of course, is utterly ludicrous, though it might have been easier for an audience to swallow back in the late 70's, when 'Shark Week' on the Discovery Channel had yet to temper the broad public ignorance about the habits and lives of Great White Sharks. The film implies that, somehow, the killing of the shark in the original has inspired a much bigger, even more crafty cousin to wreak havoc off the shores of Amity Island. So if suspension of disbelief is important to you at all, leave this one on the shelf.
Even if we accept that, for some possibly metaphysical reason (demonic possession of a killer fish?), a shark might eat people out of revenge (the much more laughable 'Jaws: The Revenge' invites us to believe that Great White Sharks have a specific grudge not against Amity but against the Brody family), it's difficult to buy even for a second that the islanders keep ignoring the obvious, explaining away incontrovertible evidence of the shark's presence as 'boating accidents.' Only Brody can see what's happening, but everyone tells him he's being paranoid. Haven't these people learned their lesson?
Perhaps to make the townspeople a little less apparently moronic, Mayor Larry Vaughan (Murray Hamilton) is more of an ally to Brody than the antagonist of the first film. In to play the heavy is excellent B-grade character actor Joseph Mascolo, best-known as longtime villain Stefano DiMera on TV soap opera 'Days of Our Lives.' Mascolo plays Len Peterson, a greedy real estate developer who has the hots for Brody's wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary). Unfortunately, Peterson doesn't have a weird, vaguely European accent like Stefano, but he manages nevertheless to overrule the Mayor and get Brody fired so he can keep the beaches open and enable the shark to munch on helpless, hysterical teenagers.
Consequently, the movie becomes a vehicle for various B-movie death scenes and gross-outs: here comes a water-skiier--oh no! there's the dorsal fin! duh-nuh-duh-nuh-duh-nuh-CHOMP! Bye-bye! Look! The boy fell off the boat into the water! Time for an eat-attack!! OH-NOOOO! Can a shark eat a helicopter? Apparently so--look out, Coast Guard man!! It's like Friday the 13th on the water, with teenagers getting systematically consumed by the E-vil shark, which seems perpetually hungry for its preferred diet of hot, horny young-'uns.
Brody's kids--seventeen year-old Mike and middle-schooler Sean--are the vehicle for serving up the high school smorgasbord, and there are some minor romantic entanglements for Mike, who goes against his Dad's orders and takes his sailboat out so he can impress the new girl in town (Sally Field look-alike Donna Wilkes). But that all devolves pretty quickly once Big Whitey starts in on the feeding frenzy, and ends up coming across as a pretty obvious exploitation device.
Fortunately for the stupid kids (didn't they hear the music?), ex-Chief Brody--despite his fear of water and his total cluelessness about boats--hijacks the police launch and heads out to save his sons' asses, along with the rest of the teen-moron patrol, who have all managed to capsize or destroy their catamarans and man-o-wars and are gradually drifting out to sea, with Whitey trolling behind, picking off the seemingly endless supply of idiots who keep falling off the wrecks of their boats and into the water.
Twenty-five years later, this one is actually good for a laugh, but it was a major bummer during its initial release because the first film was so widely acclaimed. Thanks to the likes of 'Jaws 2', we're now conditioned to the crappy, exploitative nature of most sequels, and, of course, action and horror movies in general have been mostly lame over the past ten years, so the curve on which a film like 'Jaws 2' should be judged has dropped considerably. It's a shame to see a great actor like Roy Scheider stuck in such an unintentionally funny piece of junk, but hey--I'm sure he was well-paid, so feel free to ridicule without guilt.
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