ByBenjamin Marlatt, writer at

After the mysterious disappearance of his father, David Franks (Stephen Baldwin) and his girlfriend Laura (Vanessa Johansson) travel to Venice to learn more about what may have happened. What they discover is something far more sinister than what they’ve ever imagined.

Sharks… are in fact… in Venice.

While searching for the aquatic predator that took his father’s life, David stumbles upon the very thing his father was searching for – The Medici Treasure.

Wait a minute. What happened to the sharks?

Upon learning of David’s discovery, mob boss – I mean, “businessman” – Vito Clemenza (Giacomo Gonnella) tells him that the total treasure is worth $200 million, and is willing to pay him 10% to capture it all.

Or else he’ll kidnap his girlfriend and threaten to kill her, so no pressure.

Seriously… what about the sharks?

Shark in Venice stars Alec Baldwin’s younger, lesser talented brother Stephen “GIVE ME THE FUCKING KEYS YOU FUCKING COCKSUCKER MOTHER FUCKER AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!” Baldwin and Scarlett Johansson’s older sister Vanessa, who’s definitely not as talented or popular as her sister is, but the filmmakers here figured they get the same bouncy boobs at a cheaper price, so she’ll do just fine. Like any cheapo film with “shark” in the title, you expect those dorsal finned monsters to be flying around all over the screen any chance they can get, and at the beginning of the film we’re led to believe that will definitely be happening. There’s an underwater expedition led by Giacomo Gonnella, who’s sporting aviators and a mop top doo like he’s the frontman for a low-rent Italian ELO cover band, but then here come the sharks to piss on everyone’s cheerios that morning. Yes! It’s go time!

And then they disappear.

Every now and then, director Danny Lerner throws in a shark or two (by way of stock footage they must’ve ripped from a Shark Week special on Discovery) just so he can remind us that, like the title promised us, this is about sharks. But more often than not it’s an Italian version of National Treasure with sharks appearing as extras.

Yep, don’t let the title fool you. This is 90 minutes of Baldwin squinting, Johansson pouting and every Italian in the film acting like over-the-top Italian stereotypes.

“Hey!!!! Buongiorno!!!! Welcome-a to-a Italy-a! Pizza! Mario-a! Luiiiigi!!!! Frankie Valli!!!! Joe-a Pesci!!!! Spaaaaghetti-a! A spicy-a meat-a-ball-a!!!! Monica Bellucci!! Bellissima!!!! Oh-a no-a! Look-a!! It’s-a shark-a in-a the-a water-a!!!!”

I mean, you might as well expect Tony and Joe from Lady and the Tramp to come out bellowing “Bella Notte” when Baldwin and Johansson have a fancy dinner with mafioso Jeff Lynne wannabe.

Hey, wait a minute. What if “sharks” was just a play on words in reference to the mob? You know, like mob = loan sharks?


Okay, I’m done giving this film way more credit than it deserves.

Now, from a narrative standpoint, this is a ho-hum sleeping pill, that only shows signs of life by way of the odd Passion of the Christ knockoff soundtrack and the loud Law & Order-esque “Bum-Bum!!!!” any time Baldwin dramatically mentions the word shark. Despite that this film could put the Sandman out of business as a better sleeping aid, there are a few glaring technical mistakes, all of which stick out like a black man at a KKK rally, that need mentioning.

1) When David Franks is fighting off a great white, the shark at least makes off with a consolation prize by biting one of his legs off. In the next scene, while Franks is recuperating in the hospital, his leg looks perfectly fine. What this tells me is that…

* Franks is half-man/half-autotomic reptile.
* Franks is Wolverine.
* Franks is God.
* For only needing a few hours to make it look like absolutely nothing happened to it, the reconstructive surgeon did a bitchin’ job on that leg.

2) While riding down the Grand Canal, David and Laura seem to pass under the same bridge for three times in a row. So that means either…

* David and Laura have encountered a blip in the time and space continuum that ’cause them to repeat that instance at least three times.
* That gondolier needs to be competing for Italy in the summer Olympics ’cause he must be paddling the shit out of the boat.

3) ‘Cause they have nothing better to do and they apparently feel the Italian mob will just let bygones be bygones over them snubbing their offer, David and Laura go shopping and sight-seeing (that is, if you consider David pointing out famous landmarks as “that tower thingy” and “some other beautiful things” as sight-seeing) throughout the city. Having already bought Laura an orange scarf, he then appears to buy her the same orange scarf again. This tells me that…

* They encountered another blip in the time and space continuum.
* David has Alzheimer’s.

Bonus Round Drinking Game: Take a drink any time Stephen Baldwin purses his lips, or Vanessa Johansson refers to him as baby (which in one scene is about a thousand times) or sounds choked up while delivering her lines as if she’s on the verge of crying.

I recommend you buy a couple kegs or just clear out your nearest liquor store. You’re gonna need it.

Although the title implies you’re in store for some campy, stupid fun, Shark in Venice makes the big mistake in taking itself so seriously it makes an Ingmar Bergman film look like the Marx Brothers. Sure, it would’ve been nice to see a few more sharks in a film that has them mentioned in the title, but if it’s any consolation, director Danny Lerner instead offers you a low-budget take on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that’s on par with an elementary school recess reenactment. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can at least get a kick out of Baldwin #4’s utter bewilderment as he contemplates just what the hell happened to his career since The Usual Suspects.

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