Welcome to the world of Jaws 3! Originally released as Jaws 3-D (a 3D feature), this was a movie that I saw at the theater three times, one of them for my birthday party as a young elementary school student. Sound like a scary movie for kids? You should’ve seen the movies we watched at our slumber parties! Hey, it was the ’80s, and at that point in the wonderful world of film, there were two ratings: R and PG. This one was PG. Despite its poor reviews, Jaws 3 is a fun romp of a movie, perfect for summer, and filled with ’80s style…
Setting the Stage
Get ready for a world of water park wonder and questionable green screen shots (see above–although it probably looked much better in 3D). As the film opens, it’s prep time for SeaWorld Orlando’s opening weekend. The movie’s characters are busy with random yet fabulous jobs, like using small-scale models of the park to explain its features to the press. Anyone have the urge to build a diorama?
There are tropical flower arrangements to be made and dispersed. Here’s a shot of SeaWorld Orlando’s head honcho, played by Louis Gossett Jr. If he had anything to do with those flowers, he knows how to run a theme park!
Also in preparation for the big opening, there are animals to be trained. Ah, the ’80s…when SeaWorld’s biggest PR problem was a great white shark infiltrating the park.
And most importantly, as opening day approaches, there are windsocks to be displayed. Lots and lots of windsocks.
Seriously, this film has so many windsocks:
…and so many obvious green screen shots. But I already mentioned that, didn’t I?!
Before we continue, why don’t we meet the rest of our main players?! First up, there’s Kay, played by Bess Armstrong. A SeaWorld senior marine biologist, she always seems to have the animals’ best interest at heart. She can also rock a color-blocked sweater. Not to mention, she has the quintessential ’80s bob haircut that manages to be sleek at all times. And these were the days before straightening irons, folks:
Kay is in a relationship with Mike, played by Dennis Quaid. He’s a dashingly handsome SeaWorld engineer, he’s seriously devoted to Kay, and he’s playful in all the right ways, like when he tells her, “I’ll have your beeper beep my beeper.” Yes, these were the days before cell phones, folks:
Mike’s younger brother Sean comes to visit and quickly meets Sea World water skier/performer Kelly, played by Lea Thompson. Here are the lovebirds:
Sean looks troubled because he’s afraid of the water due to his previous experience in the realm of shark attacks. Yes, Sean and Mike are the sons of Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider, from the previous Jaws films). It’s a good thing Kelly tries to get him over his childhood fear by forcing him to enjoy a long ride on the bumper boats, putting him in a position where he witnesses another brutal shark attack, and enticing him to swim in a quiet lagoon…that looks like the site of a chemical spill. I think they were a bit heavy-handed with the fog machine in that scene:
…and while we’re on the topic of main players, let’s not forget Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life. Just kidding. But she does have Charlotte Rae’s hairdo!
The Plot Thickens
After a series of shark attacks on characters we could care less about, the great white finally starts to threaten our main cast. And the entire group of tourists visiting SeaWorld Orlando on opening weekend! Yikes! And things seemed to be going so well… Audiences were happy as they watched the animals perform:
The water skiers were in top form:
The windsocks had never looked better:
But soon it’s evident that the baby shark isn’t the one causing all of the damage around the park. It’s the little guy’s 35-foot-long mother! And she’s out for blood! Good thing Mike and Kay (Bess Armstrong and Dennis Quaid) are there to warn Calvin (Louis Gossett Jr.) that SeaWorld Orlando is about to be ravaged by a killer fish. To break the bad news, they find him in the swanky undersea lounge also known as The Neptune Room. Let’s take a closer look at this ’80s design masterpiece…
There are mirrored wall murals and tall branches covered in hanging votive candles. There are indoor trees and underwater views. There are Deco-style pedestals, as well as seating in shades of salmon and mint:
It’s almost enough to make you forget about the dire circumstances. But Mike’s reaction to the approaching shark jolts us all back to reality!
Now he must run through the park and somehow convince everybody to get out of the water! He and the rest of the crew will stop at nothing to keep everyone safe, even if it means stealing a popcorn vehicle (the snacks will have to wait), punching a belligerent beer-guzzling tourist in the face, and pushing a show announcer into the water in order to snag his microphone. Will the shark succeed in eating all of the tourists? Or will Dennis Quaid and the gang somehow put an end to the chaos? I guess you’ll have to watch the movie and see for yourselves…
For every shot in this film that raises eyebrows (anyone else concerned that you can see through the metal reinforcements on this tunnel?), there’s a shot that is quintessentially ’80s, making it all worthwhile.
And let’s not forget those fabulous undersea images, which were extra stunning in 3D!
Maybe one day they’ll re-release this in theaters. And pass out those cardboard 3D glasses so we can relive the magic.
Until then, wishing you a colorful summer, yet one far less eventful than opening day at SeaWorld Orlando in 1983. XOXO, Kate