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‘Jaws’ Is the Perfect Blockbuster, Saying Nothing yet Signifying Everything

2020’s summer blockbuster season has been put on hold because of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the movies from the past that we flocked out of the sun and into air conditioning for. Welcome to The Ringer’s Return to Summer Blockbuster Season, where we’ll feature different summer classics each week. “Twenty-four hours is like three weeks!” That’s the complaint of a local woman (for no reason at all, let’s call her Karen) at a town meeting after she learns that the nicely gentrified beach community of Amity will be closed by the mayor’s office following grisly evidence of a shark attack; it’s a shrill, high-frequency whine that cuts through the scene’s bustling, multitracked sound design like an air-raid siren. For those of us who’ve seen Jaws more than a few times, even the film’s throwaway dialogue has been etched into our cerebral cortexes. For every one of the script’s enduring catchphrases—think “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” or “Smile, you son of a bitch”—there’s an exchange beloved by diehards: the idiot, bass-mouthed fisherman unable to comprehend that his friend’s latest trophy is a tiger shark (“A whaaat?”); the long-haired hipster searching in vain for his lost (and long since devoured) black Lab (“Pippit…. Pippit!”); the old lady complaining to Roy Scheider that the disenfranchised residents of a local children’s martial arts class have been “karate-ing the picket fences.

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