The Shark is Still Working


Review by Scott Weinberg
When it comes to documentaries about specific movies, passion is a very important thing. That's why the finest DVD documentaries (like the one found on the 12 Monkeys DVD) are so well-regarded: Anyone can dust off some old posters and dig up a few deleted scenes, interview some people and write some adequate narration. But what makes a movie doco extra special is when all that information is filtered through a palpable sense of LOVE for the subject matter. A few months back I saw a fantastic fan-made documentary called "Done the Impossible," which documented the life and times of Fox's Serenity TV series -- and now comes a stunningly exhaustive and completely entertaining three-hour masterpiece called "The Shark Is Still Working," which is just about the finest movie ever made about one of the finest movies ever made. Let's put it this way: If, like every sane person in the universe, you love the movie "Jaws," then all you need to own is Universal's 30th Anniversary DVD -- and The Shark Is Still Working. Between those four platters you'll have the movie itself, Laurent Bouzereau's stellar two-hour documentary, and this brand-new 180-minute marathon.

Running the gamut from conception to production to reaction to long-lasting cultural impact, "TSISW" covers everything Jaws-related that you could possibly imagine: Production horror stories both well-documented and forever fascinating, the budget problems, the endless delays, the damn mechanical shark that never worked (and unwittingly helped to make a better movie), the editing process, the blockbuster release, the endless merchandising, the sequels, the fans, the parodies, the games and toys and websites and on and on and on... Frankly if you can think of anything that the TSISW guys missed, Jaws-wise, I'd love to know what it might be. And let's make one thing clear: Just because I call this a "fan-made" documentary, don't mistake my meaning: This is a handsomely-shot, well-edited, and entirely professional production all the way. Damn impressive is what it really is, truth be told.

I can't even imagine who wasn't interviewed for this documentary. If they had anything whatsoever to do with the production of the original "Jaws" on the island of Martha's Vineyard in 1974 (and they're still drawing breath), they were interviewed for this movie. Not only the big names like Steven Spielberg, Roy Scheider, Peter Benchley, Richard Dreyfuss, and Lorraine Gary or fan-familiar players like production designer Joe Alves, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, composer John Williams, cinematographer Bill Butler, and producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown -- no, the die-hard Jaws freaks who produced TSISW couldn't stop at just those folks. They had to scour Martha's Vineyard during Jawsfest 2005 and dig up only the most colorfully obscure of Jaws creators. And they didn't stop with the kid who played guitar in the flick's first scene or the woman who bitch-slapped Chief Brody for keeping the beaches open. No, these fanboy filmmakers also went to folks like Greg Nicotero, Eli Roth, Bryan Singer, Kevin Smith, and Chris Kentis to gauge precisely how "influential" a film Jaws is.

Well, considering that it's widely credited as the first "true" blockbuster of the modern age, that it's been scaring generations of bathers out of the beaches for over 30 years, and that it's just about one of the most effortlessly entertaining movies you'll ever see (not to mention one of the most "re-watchable"), there's little denying that Jaws is one of the most popular (and profitable) movies ever made. And what's great about TSISW is how it makes you want to grab your Jaws DVD off the shelf and spin the thing for the 23rd time. From the smallest contributor to the ever-gracious Steven Spielberg, everyone interviewed for TSISW seems to agree that it was one amazingly difficult production -- but I doubt any one of 'em regrets those hardships now. Regarding this superlative documentary, it's an absolute must-own for anyone who's seen Jaws at least 10 or 12 times. If you dig the movie that much, you're gonna love what's offered here. The Shark Is Still Working has earned a spot in my collection right alongside my beloved Jaws DVD ... and that's saying something.

For more info on the film, which isn't available for purchase quite yet, feel free to poke around the official site.