Thanksgiving is that magical time of year when my countrymen and I embrace gluttony with wild abandon. Prep for this most wondrous feast usually involves a few trips to the grocery store. Most of us just have to worry that the store will sell out of our favorite brand of cranberry sauce. The characters in Bait have to worry about getting eaten alive by sharks.
The first 20 minutes of the Australian import Bait are spent giving us some backstory on the main characters, all of whom have enough combined angst to fill a U-Haul. First up is Josh, a lifeguard whose best friend is nommed by a shark (a run-of-the-mill ocean shark, not a grocery store shark) in the first few minutes. Josh’s howls of anguish are comedically overdone, but he does teach us how to properly express grief while on a jet ski.
A year later we find Josh working at a grocery store where he conveniently bumps into his ex-fiancee (the chomped best friend’s sister) and her current boyfriend. We also meet the shoplifter Jaimie, who is working through the grief of losing her mom through lifting sunglasses and what appears to be shampoo (Pantene cures all ills, after all). The cop called to deal with Jaimie is, of course, her dad. There are also the robbers Doyle (Julian McMahon, Dr. Doom from Fantastic Four) and his partner Kirby who has strong armed Doyle into robbing the joint. We also meet the store manager, Jaimie’s boyfriend, a couple of yuppies, and a pomeranian.
And so our motley crew valiantly scales the grocery store shelves, blissfully unaware of the shark swimming placidly among the canned peas. At this point, I’d officially like to nominate the grocery store manager for the Worst Day Ever Award. I mean, who catches a shoplifter, has a gun pointed at his head during a robbery, survives a tsunami, and then has to fend off sharks? That has to be some kind of a record.
As if having Josh & co trapped on the grocery store shelves wasn’t enough to keep us occupied, we also get to follow along with three people and a pooch trapped in the carpark (where there is also a shark). Two of these folks have the most waterproof car in the universe. Seriously, you could drive that thing to England.
The people on the shelves eventually realize they’re not alone. The water is rising, but slowly. Through various, and occasionally hilarious, plans to escape/ensure their safety, these people practically throw themselves into the waiting jaws of the great white. If you ever find yourself trapped in a grocery store with a shark, take a lesson from Bait and for the love of God, stay on the shelves! (I was reminded of the In Living Color “Stay in Your Car!” sketch from years ago.)
(What could possibly go wrong?)
Bait is not earth-shatteringly good, nor does it suck. The premise is ridiculous, there’s lots going on, and the actors try a little too hard to play it straight. That said, it’s a fun way to kill a Friday night. And anyway, it has sharks in a grocery store. You know you want to see that.
Stay tuned for next week’s review of Grabbers, or: Irish Tentacle Monsters from Spaaaaace.