"Jaws 3-D," in which the Amity horror swims south to Florida, looks a lot like a Poligrip commercial, what with its extreme close-ups of the Great White's artificial chompers.
When Bruce strikes, he doesn't bite -- he crunches his victims like an undersea nutcracker. Sometimes he swallows them whole, like Biblical hors d'oeuvres.
In all instances, it's a blessing to be rid of them. I was sorry stars Bess Armstrong and Dennis Quaid weren't eaten, too. They play a pair of perky lovers who have a high old time of it on the job at Sea World. In scene after scene, they gaily feed the porpoises, already so full they can barely stay afloat. Sometimes the poor things just let the proferred fish fall from their lips and sink to the bottom of the tank.
As characters go, I preferred the villain -- Simon MacCorkindale as an undersea swashbuckler who wants to skewer the shark on TV to get publicity for Louis Gossett Jr.'s new undersea theme park. Gossett, as the owner of Undersea Kingdom, is an unholy mix of Lee Iacocca, Stepin Fetchit and Simon Legree.
The Great White Shark enters his Kingdom through a damaged seagate that separates the park from the rest of the ocean. When the shark rams one of the undersea walls, a group of tourists is stranded and for a moment we expect to see Shelley Winters swim past from "The Poseidon Adventure." There are also bits of "Beach Blanket Bingo," Fa and La, this and that in this all- wet script by Richard Matheson and Carl Gottlieb.
Only Joe Alves, debuting as a director, rivals their incompetence. His credits include designing the original shark for "Jaws" and cartooning for Walt Disney Studios -- a background of things, not people -- and he focuses on the lousy effects and the fish, not the characters. There are some fair underwater shots, and when it's not murky, which it usually is, the fish seem to be hovering over the seats in front of you.
But Alves can't visualize suspense, while his editors can't produce terror. Menacing musical "da-dumps," in fact, recall "Saturday Night Live" parodies, and you find yourself laughing heartily when Bruce sneaks up on a pyramid of squealing waterskiers. If only he'd nipped one.
But "Jaws 3-D's" teeth have been pulled. It's a false adventure. JAWS 3-D -- At area theaters.