My daughter is three years old. It seems like just yesterday she was a wide-eyed, scared-looking blob with a misshapen head that just laid there all day. Now, she’s throwing temper tantrums and developing a sense of independence. I miss the helplessness some days. I think the part I miss most is that newborn baby scalp smell. Man that was good. You other dads know what I mean.
Anyway, my formerly sweet smelling daughter went through a phase all last summer where she was addicted to Jaws (4): The Revenge. I’d heard from different people beforehand that toddlers get hooked on weird things, but I never would have imagined I’d sit through Jaws 4 more than any other movie I have in my life by a landslide.
It was a daily ritual in our household. My daughter would wake up and like clockwork demand to watch what she simply called Shawk. Being the enablers we were and still are, my wife and I would fire up Netflix and scroll through for the movie. Before we could even click play, my daughter would run up to the TV, impatiently jump up and down, poke at the artwork, and repeat the word “Shawk! Shawk! Shawk!”
What fascinates me the most is that she chose to latch onto Jaws 4, which is considered by most to be the worst of the series and a big pile of shit. Now and then, I would try to be sly and play 1, 2, or 3, but she always knew right away and would bolt upright and wag her finger at the screen with a disapproving “No, no, no, no.”
My daughter watched Jaws 4 so much that she memorized it. There were certain beats she anticipated. She never failed, for example, to point out the police horse in the background of the opening scene, or the unbecoming sobbing Ms. Brody does out at sea — “Daddy, look, she cwy.”
Her favorite parts were the kills, though. At first, this concerned me. Now, not so much. I’ve been told by my own mom that I acted the same way at that age and was apparently even addicted to Jaws 1 myself, and I like to think that I turned out ok, if not for the fact that I spend an inordinate amount of my time watching bad (and worse) movies.
My daughter’s favorite kill in particular comes at the sixty-eight-minute mark. Jaws Triple-Jr. snags a woman from the back of a banana boat in slow motion. Each and every time this would happen, my daughter would pump her itty fists in the air and shout “Got ha!” (which of course was meant to be “Got her!”). The moment excited her so much that she’d bounce up what looked like a foot from her toddler chair while she celebrated. The satisfaction she got from watching Banana Boat Lady get dragged under was absolutely unparalleled. Nothing else in her world elicited such a reaction. I’d never seen someone look so alive! Her sheer elation at the poor woman’s demise was and still is the cutest, most delightfully warped little thing I’ve been witness to. I wish I’d gotten it on video.
As the shark swam away, my daughter would wave and say “Bye, shawk.” as if seeing a family member to the door, then ask us to repeat the scene five to ten times. After maybe the forty-fifth replay, I admit that I grew to love the scene too. I started to respect how stiff and unnatural the shark looked. Even I became addicted there toward the end.
Then it happened. We all knew it was coming, but nothing could have prepared us. The movie stopped airing on Netflix. My wife and I ordered a DVD copy from Amazon, but by that point my daughter had already lost interest. It felt like the end of an era. Bittersweet, in a way. I had watched Jaws: The Revenge every day, multiple times a day for so long that going back to my pre-Jaws: The Revenge way of life was a challenge, a true test. I’m not going to lie, I was scared. But with Lady Luck and some big-time support from my loved ones, I weathered the storm and came out alright.
For reasons I can’t wrap my adult head around, my daughter has moved on to the decently-90s-ish but otherwise majorly forgettable Mirror, Mirror (1990) with Karen Black, which she calls Monster in Mirror Movie. I’m hoping this summer’s addiction doesn’t spiral out of control like the last one, but I’m also hoping it does because I treasure family time no matter what we’re doing together.