I bet if someone were to ask you if you remembered the very first fish-heist-comedy you ever saw, it would take you no less than 5 seconds to be recalling that moment with great whimsy. Personally, I've always had a good memory and can remember even the most trivial things with ease. Believe it or not, I can vividly remember the first time I ever touched my own back! I know, it sounds ludicrous but the truth is, there isn't a single detail about that instance that I am unable to remember. I was 3 years old, sitting on the living room floor in my childhood home. Uncle Horn and Grandma Bear were there, arguing on the couch like they always did! Ha ha! My mother was fixing supper in the kitch-kitch. (That's what we were calling it that specific day.) I remember the very moment when I first felt the itch begin to coagulate underneath my skin and the rush I felt when I knew deep down something had to be done about it. I looked both ways before I attempted to scratch my own back. I knew I had to be quick because the latkes smelled as if the completion of cooking was closer than ever. The perfect moment arrived and I took advantage of it like hitting a baseball or something. I remember when my mother walked out from the kitchen and saw me scratching my back and screamed. She was worried I was going to dislocate my shoulder... I'll never forget the look on Uncle Horn's face...
The point is, there are a million moments in my life that I can recall perfectly. Even the most trivial of times with the most obscure details have stuck with me for years and years. But there isn't a single moment in my life that I can recall as well as the first time I saw my very first fish-heist comedy. It was in 1990, I was a junior in highschool. It was a glorious time... Peggy Lane and I were officially dating, I had a great drug dealer, and my best friend "Jumbo" had just recently had both of his parents die in a horrific wreck. They ended up leaving him their house and that was where I spent every night, every weekend, and every summer until graduation. On that specific day I remember walking Peggy Lane home from school, kissing her on the lips, and promising her I would love her till the end of time. It was right then that I received the phone call that would change my life forever. It was Jumbo inviting me to spend the night at his dead folk's house to watch a video tape he had rented. I really couldn't stomach the idea of watching yet ANOTHER video tape in my friend's basement while the ghosts of his dead parents haunt the other floors of the house, especially with all the head way I was making with Peggy. I told Jumbo I didn't think I was going to be able to make it, but Jumbo was not about to take "I didn't think I was going to be able to make," as an answer... Jumbo told me I had to come. He told me this wasn't any normal video tape, this was "Shrimp Nappers II". I remember thinking, "Shrimp Nappers II"? What the heck is that? A movie about kidnapping fish? Yeah, right, Jumbo! Maybe another time... But he insisted... He told me this movie would change my life.
I sacrificed losing my virginity to the girl I loved that night... I gave that up for a movie I didn't know a damn thing about...
And it was the best damn decision I ever made!
"Shrimp Nappers II", single handedly changed my life. Not five minutes after the film had ended were Jumbo and I on our way to the video store to pick up "Shrimp Nappers 1" and "Shrimp Nappers pt. 3". It was there that Jumbo and I realized we were way behind the times. Since 1988 the fish-heist comedy genre had around! We had no idea! We picked up a copy of "Blow Fish: where'd ya go fish?", "Marlin's Gold", and everyone's favorite "Stop! or my fish will shoot!". Within' a week we had seen all the fish-heist comedies known to man and you can bet your bottom we were on our way to the cinema a month later when "Shrimp Nappers: 4-Ever After" premiered.
And then something happened...
The genre I had grown to know and love was starting to fade away into the bottomless whirlpool of obscurity and sucking all the boats, fish, and coral with it... (That last sentence is a pretty deep metaphor. Sorry to those confused! :P)
i thought back in 94' i had seen the last of the fish/heist flicks with "Fish Robbers 2: citizens on brigade". I knew something was missing, but underneath the surface the spark that made fish-heist comedies what they were was still intact, it just recquired a little digging. It seemed to me that the genre was nothing more than a phase that had finally run it's course. I was pleased that they didn't run the idea into the ground too much. "Fish Robbers 2" was no "Citizen Fish" or "I Am Clown Fish, Hear Me Roar", but to me (and I've heard I'm mostly alone on this.), the genre was "sailin' off" on a high note.
And then something else happened...
In 07' the next "wave" of fish-heist flicks "washed up on the shore". I was so hesitant when I first heard the rumors of what us fish-heist comedy fans were calling "the resurfacing of christ-fist." I couldn't help but imagine what time would have really done to my beloved movie genre. How would the humor hold up? Would all the dry wit of the early installments be "washed away" by fart humor and boob jokes? Then there was the announcement that no real fish would be used in future fish-heist comedies. That really angered the community of loyal fans this genre had. There was clearly a lot going on in the ways of opening up the "pond" to a new "school" of fans by changing was the genre was really all about to begin with.
Despite all of this, I went to the premier of "Fish Bong" in 2007. And it was worse than I could have ever imagined. Between the CGI fish, the poop humor, the gratuitous male nudity, and lack of character development, I was forced to leave the theatre sobbing. I laid in bed for ten straight weeks. Nothing could get me out of that funk I had fallen into. At one point, my family resorted to contacting Jumbo to try and turn my spirits around. They thought if Jumbo could come into town for the premier of "Fish Bong 2: Here we Bong Again", we could see the movie together, have fun, and maybe I could have the realization that none of this was worth it. So Jumbo came over, sat at the end of my bed, and pleaded with me to get out of bed and go to the cinema with him. I refused. This is the only memory in my life that I ever tried to block out, and for the most part it's worked. I don't recall what was said at all, but I remember yelling on my part. I remember Jumbo's face, not even being able to look at me as I screamed at him. A single tear rolling down his cheek. Then he was gone.
My mother came into my room that night with awful news. Jumbo was dead. He was shot and killed by a thief at the cinema that night. She told me he was targeted because he was the only person in the entire theatre seeing the new fish-heist comedy without a friend.
The first time I had left my bed in months was to attend my friend's funeral. Everyone there seemed to know the story of what had happened. The dirty looks and stares from everyone in attendance couldn't be avoided. After the service had ended, and my friend was buried, I remained in the cemetary next to his gravestone. I didn't cry. I couldn't cry. I just sat there, remembering all those damn fish-heists we used to laugh at so much.
It was at that moment I realized I wasn't alone.
I looked up from the grave to see Peggy Lane, my old flame from highschool, standing across from me. I stood up and looked into her eyes. Something happened right then. I had been looking at people all my life, always making eye contact, but this was different. When I looked at this woman, right in eyes, I could see more than that. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. For the first time in my life, I was looking into something other than a TV with some fish on the screen. I was looking into a person, and in doing so looking right back in to me. It was as if I was seeing what she was seeing.
It was at that moment I realized I would never be alone.
Peggy and I were married the following spring. We bought a house, settled down, had some kids... We even got that white picket fence everyone always talks about! Can you believe it?
Everything has been perfect! And all it took was seeing a bad movie, getting depressed because of it, having your best friend die because of THAT, and then ultimately rekindling a romance with a girl you dated in highschool. Sounds great, right? Gets even better! Peggy and I have not only rewatched all my favorite fish-heist comedy video tapes, but we've actually watched all the new ones that I missed while I was depressed as well.
There's something in those new movies, I definitely wouldn't call it good, because it isn't. It's gotta just be some good old fashioned nostagia, for me at least that makes it possible to sit through those ridiculous things. Also, every once in awhile you catch something worthwhile in one of them. I mean, sure, i cried when Lenny got eaten by Krill in "Big Shrimp", and yeah I laughed when Joe and Mikey got their weiners bitten by cat fish in the infamous scene from "Zebra Muscles 2". But I haven't really felt anything from these new movies without having to seriously try. I used to just be able to watch these movies and let the feelings come. Now, I have to sit down and not only prepare myself to experience fake emotions but also prepare myself to fake entertainment.
i really do believe the genre has run it's course. It's hard for me to say those words, having literally all the most important decisions in my life stem around a certain film genre, but it needs to be said! I will always have these early video tapes and video discs of my favorite fish-heist comedies, and that's all I need. Nobody has ever had a gem that turned into a horse which eventually got killed and beaten repeatedly and have that dead horse turn back into a gem again. (Another metaphor! Sorry, I couldn't resist!)
The inventor of fish-heist, Gorben Zorbson, even said it himself: "Sure, we caught something great and it made millions of people happy, but i'm a firm believer in catching... and releasing..."
I say we throw this genre back in the pond!
I say we throw this genre back in the pond!
in loving memory of
and his parents