You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Joke: Jaws Spoofed

JAWS, whilst having its light and humorous moments can’t exactly be referred to as being a (three) barrels of laughs, but being such an iconic cultural touchstone, not just classic film, has meant that it has long since been part of our subconscious. As such, over the years, that means that Jaws has been ripe for the comedy bullet, smile you son-of-a-bitch indeed.

The Keith and Paddy Picture Movie Show is the latest to spoof or pay comedy homage. 

If the previous instalments are anything to go by (Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters and Return of the Jedi) it will be a mixture of lovingly recreated shots played for laughs, interjected by the usual rude and sweary tomfoolery. But it is all done with reverence as these are films loved by Lemon's alter ego, Leigh Francis, and Paddy McGuinness.

And of course, this is far from the first time that the iconic Jaws has been spoofed in TV, film or magazines.

 

Saturday Night Live (1975, 2015, 2016)

If you are going to be the first film to make $100 million then you are going to make something of a name for yourself and Jaws got the Saturday Night Live treatment just four episodes in to the now legendary TV show.

The sketch moots a sequel to the original (as if) called Jaws 2: Land Shark and features Chevy Chase as the shark who goes round knocking on doors for dinner, all of which still sounds more plausible than most of what happened in Jaws the Revenge.

Jaws would keep retuning to SNL in various guises over the years, including in a Bill Murray sung ballad, love theme from Jaws, as part of the show’s 40th anniversary singing as lounge singer Nick Ocean, with accompanying Jaws on a loop in the background.  

And the (proper) Jaws theme returned to SNL during the US election during one sketch of Trump skulking up to Clinton during one of the debates. Even after some 40 plus years both Jaws and Saturday Night Live both prove they still have satirical bite.

 

Mr Jaws (1975)

Someone beat Murray in the Jaws song stakes though in the form of Mr Jaws by Dickie Goodman. Well, I say song, it’s more of a fake interview with um Mr Jaws, Brody, Hooper and Quint, with answers given in the form of song samples from 1975. Think Jive Bunny meets The Barron Knights but less so. Probably hilarious if you were a kid, probably. Not that I’d like to prove that and get my name into the National Geographic or anything.

Clearly 1975 really was the year of the shark. Even that song generated a sequel upon the release of Jaws 2…Mrs Jaws.

 

MAD magazine (1976)

The actual film, the score and the poster are iconic, so it was no surprise there were numerous homages to the classic Roger Kastel poster design. One of the first and most memorable had to be Alfred E. Neuman swimming above ‘Bruce’ sticking his tongue out in disgust in an issue from 1976. 

And with memes, that tradition continues today. Who hasn’t seen the Claws poster with a kitten, the Star Wars riff with Jawas or the one with the iron, Chores. 

 

Gums (1976)

Gums, a shark worse than his bite, first appeared in Monster Fun in February 1976, his header image clearly mocking the classic Jaws poster motif, minus his gnashers. Again, taking a bite out of the popular shark market he was a huge hit and immediately could be found on the cover.

Although he is, like our Bruce, a villain he is a pretty hopeless one as he keeps losing his teeth when trying to eat Bluey, a surfer. But, to even things up Tom and Jerry style, one week would try to eat the surfer and fail, with Gums ending up sans teeth, and the next the boy seek to steal Gum’s er jaws only for him to get them back by the end of the strip. Such fun continued until 1984, by which time the shark had jumped into Buster with his dentures.

 

 

1941 (1979)

What makes the Jaws spoof in the mad cap World War 2 comedy unique is two things. One, it is from the Director of Jaws, Steven Spielberg, and two, it features the same actress from the original scene it is spoofing. That actress in question is Susan Backlinie and that scene, of course, is the opening attack.

Both start out the same, a young woman goes swimming naked at night, suddenly she feels something pulling on her leg. Another shark?  Not this time, it’s the conning tower of a Japanese sub surfacing.

What’s great about this is that it starts just like Jaws with her running across sand dunes before she hits the water. Spot on.

 

Airplane (1980)

A night’s sky, the tops of clouds fill the screen and the ominous Jaws theme begins to play as an airplane’s tail fin slices through the clouds, as the infamous theme gets louder so does the tail fin until it is interrupted by the plane roaring across the screen and the film’s titles.

This is the opening joke of the film and lets the audience know that this spoof of disaster films, as well as hits of the day, had its tongue firmly in cheek.

It’s always great to hear William’s music interpreted by other famous musicians; in this case it is The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape composer, Elmer Bernstein. Latterly, he was also proved rather adept at raising tension and scoring terror with his work on An American Werewolf in London and Ghostbusters.

 

Caddyshack (1980)

This golfing comedy features an hilarious scene where a chocolate bar is mistakenly dropped into a packed swimming pool that then sees it floating to the splashing, happy crowd of bathers a la Jaws with the partly submerged camera creating that perfect ‘Jaws’ angle as it edges ever closer as the faux Jaws score builds and builds until a girl spots it and shouts ‘doodie!’

Cue scenes of panic like the Fourth of July evacuation as everyone leaves the pool sharpish. Perhaps the biggest laugh though is when the pool has been drained it is being cleaned by Bill Murray’s character who pic of the ‘doodie’, sniffs it and then takes a bite out of it. Cue fainting woman.

Like some of the best moments in Jaws this was adlibbed by Murray, who only worked in the film for a total of six days. 

 

The Secret of My Success (1987)

Michael J Fox’s yuppie comedy features one scene where he is preyed upon by an older woman, who just so happens to be his bosses wife...oh and his Aunt, but she doesn’t know it yet. 

The scene culminates in a swimming pool where the Aunt goes in for the ‘kill’ removing Michael J Fox’s boxer shorts dragging him under the water screaming bubbles and arms flailing just like poor Alex Kintner. 

 

Blades (1989)

We’ve had a Jaws spoof in a golfing comedy, now how about a Jaws spoof that is set entirely on a golf course replacing a killer shark with, that’s right, a killer lawn mower! That is the whole premise of this Troma film, which is daft as a brush but pulls off aping most scenes from the original, right down to the ‘Quint’ character going legs first and ‘Brody’ having to stop the killer sha…I mean lawnmower swinging a golf club hitting golf balls to make the murderous mower explode. 

Not sure what Greg ‘The Great White’ Norman makes of it.

 

 

Back to the future Part 2 (1989)

Michael J Fox again, this time arriving in the (then) futuristic 2015. One of the first things he sees in the new Hill Valley is the Holomax cinema advertising Jaws 19, with the tagline of ‘This time it’s really personal.’ Marty McFly has his back to the cinema, suddenly the Jaws music starts to play and a 3D image of a shark appears and seemingly swallows Fox whole. He screams only for the shark to vanish. He composes himself and shrugs proclaiming that the shark still looks fake.

The film in question was directed by one Max Spielberg, son of Steven. The latter also Executive Produced the Back to the Future trilogy.

And in 2015 the joke came full circle when Universal released a spoof trailer for Jaws 19…sigh, back in 1989 we still hoped it may have been actually possible, well a couple of sequels at least. A man can dream can’t he? 

By Dean Newman

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