A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jaws 2 is the 1978 follow-up to Jaws, which had once been the highest-grossing movie of all time. Just like the first Jaws, it almost goes without saying that there are shark attacks, only this one puts the teen characters as a whole in a lot more peril and panic than in the first one. There is some blood and gore in the attacks, and (spoiler alert) the shark is killed in dramatic fashion via electrocution. In terms of language, there is some mild profanity throughout, and it's worth mentioning that the phrase "for Christ's sake" is overused to the point where one can't help but notice the frequency in which it's used. There are also some teen shenanigans like drinking and sexual advances and boys talking about how a girl's breasts are comparable to a sparrow's. Chief Brody gets drunk after being relieved of duty. Cigarette smoking. Overall, this sequel doesn't really offer anything new, and whatever character development that was in the first one is forsaken in the interests of showing more scenes of a great white shark terrorizing teens.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As Amity tries to recover from the fatal shark attacks of the recent past and bring back the tourists for the lucrative summer season, two scuba divers are attacked and killed by what would appear to be another great white shark in JAWS 2. This same shark attacks a water skier and causes the motorboat she was skiing behind to explode when the driver tries to defend herself from the shark with gasoline and a flare gun. And once again, the local authorities, with the exception of Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), refuse to believe that shark attacks are behind the fatalities in the water. They even go so far as to relieve Chief Brody of his duty when he causes a panic at the beach by shooting his gun at what he believes to be a shark but is actually a school of bluefish. Regardless, the shark attacks continue, and everything comes to a head when Brody's sons are trapped when they sneak off with their peers to float out into the water. They must find a way to fend off the killer shark as Brody tries to figure out a way to stop the shark and rescue all the trapped teens.
Is it any good?
This sequel really brings nothing that the original Jaws didn't already have. The emphasis is far less on character development and far more on visual stimulation and horror movie violence, peril, and panic, especially among teens. JAWS 2 is an all-too-typical example of a sequel not being anywhere near as good as the original, something done more because it was a chance to continue the money-making of the first movie.
The moments of story seem merely structured to either set up shark attacks, or to provide a temporary rest between said shark attacks. There's a sloppiness to the dialogue as well, the kind that would allow characters to use the phrase "for Christ's sake" so often, it's impossible to ignore. And with this relative lack of real story compared to the original Jaws, the cheesiness of the 1970s special effects -- especially with the shark itself -- come across much more than if the movie had been of a higher quality. It's an unnecessary sequel if there ever was one, and a harbinger of horrible Jaws sequels to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sequels like Jaws 2. Why are they made, and why are they almost always never as good as the original?
How is the violence of a shark attack conveyed in the movie? Does the violence in these attacks seem necessary to the overall story, or does it seem forced in order to give the movie gratuitous scares?
Compare the behavior of these 1970s teenagers who either live on Amity Island or are visiting for the summer compared to teenagers today. What are the similarities and differences in terms of behavior, fashion, interaction?
- In theaters: June 16, 1978
- On DVD or streaming: June 14, 2016
- Cast: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
- Director: Jeannot Szwarc
- Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Ocean Creatures
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: August 20, 2020
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