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Shark bait

Nickey Hernandez

When it comes to vacation time, Americans are saps.We take the least amount of leave time among industrialized nations. And when we finally get the balls to flee the office, we haul along a laptop and Blackberry in case the boss calls.Europeans at least those smart enough to avoid over-time in Iraq enjoy six weeks off a year. The average Yank, meanwhile, accepts a mere 10 days away from the hamster wheel.This modern version of indentured servitude is great for corporate America, Wal-Mart and their Republican masters, but it sucks for working slobs who dream of exotic vacation spots, hard-bodied bikini babes and a dip in the comforting calm of the Caribbean.Course sometimes it pays to hang at the office. Such is the case in “Open Water,” an outstanding independent film that follows the sorry plight of two overly good-looking California swells, who break away from the grind for a fun-filled dive trip in the Caribbean.Sounds good, right?Wrong!Before you can say pass the conch shell, our bathing beauties are more than neck deep in shark-infested waters, swimming against the current without a paddle.”Open Water” is for everyone who got spooked by “Jaws.” Only this time, the sharks are real not mechanical, and crazy Capt. Quint isn’t around to save anyone’s ass.The film, which is loosely based on a real tragedy in Australia, centers on Susan and Daniel. These two high-energy, up-and-comers break away from the office to play in the sand. They sign up for a three-hour scuba tour, and end up in worse shape than Mrs. Howell following a six-day romp with The Skipper.Like typical arrogant Americans, Susan and Daniel swim away from their dive buddies. They surface to find the tour boat gone.What follows is a cinematic version of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of dying.Denial hits hard as the two make jokes, then play trivia games while they wait for their boat to return.”Oh, this will make such a funny story once we get back home,” they quip between gulps of salt water. “We wanted an ocean view. Boy did we get it.”The mood shifts after they drift into a school of jellyfish.Anger bubbles to the surface before sundown, as Daniel goes into a wild, profanity-laced screaming fit worthy of Bobby Knight, while the babe bitches in his wet ear.”I wanted to go skiing,” she gripes.Bargaining takes center stage after Daniel loses some tender shank to a hungry shark. Soon they are sorry for defying the laws of man and slipping away from work.Depression and acceptance quickly follow as the two battle sharks, tides, and the pitiless stare of the open sea.In the end, you have a marvelous, if brief, tale of the worst vacation money can buy. The film is extremely simple, but also very realistic. It will scare you out of your bathtub and make you pray for a 60-hour workweek. VTUntil next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the theater to troll for tuna.


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