To quote one of my all-time favorite Saturday Night Live sketches, “I’m not that strong a swimmer.” (It’s from 1984, kiddos, Google “Synchronized Swimming SNL sketch” and prepare to laugh your head off.)

I’ve always been content to stay on the shore and let others have fun in Lake Michigan or at the beach. Perhaps my fear of the water stems from one (or all) of these 5 movies …


Jaws – Duh. When a movie’s tagline is “You’ll never go in the water again” and it’s directed by Steven Spielberg, you know it’s going to scar people for life. It came out in 1975, a year after I was born, and has terrified generations of Americans ever since. Who wants to frolic at the beach when a man-eating shark could be waiting to have you for dinner? NOT ME. But if sharks versus humans is your thing, you’ll be happy to know Redbox also has Jaws 2, Jaws 3 and Jaws: The Revenge.


Open Water – One minute you’re scuba diving on a tropical vacation with your spouse, and the next you’re accidentally left behind by your tour group … in shark-infested waters, overnight. Based on a true story, this grim tale hit me hard because I’ve gone on similar group excursions and have seen how easily it is for someone to be overlooked. In the ocean, human mistakes can be just as deadly as sharks.


All is Lost – This was one of my favorite movies of 2013. It stars Robert Redford as an experienced sailor who wakes up on his boat to find that it has been damaged by a shipping container and is taking on water in the middle of the Indian Ocean. He’s by himself, and therefore the film has hardly any dialogue. But I assure you, you’ll be riveted from the first frame to the last.


 Adrift – Like Open Water, this movie is also based on a harrowing (and thankfully less gory) true story. It stars Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin as two expert sailors whose ship gets damaged in a Pacific Ocean hurricane. It’s an incredible story of iron will, love and determination, and Woodley is particularly excellent in it.


Anaconda  – I gotta end this otherwise depressing list on a funny note. Did you know Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez were in a horror movie together? Did you know Owen Wilson was also in that movie? This 1997 cult classic is a must-see in the “so bad it’s good” sense. Trust me. You don’t even need to know what it’s about — the title pretty much sums it up. (But not in the Sir Mix-A-Lot sense, for my fellow ‘90s rap fans out there.) Get your friends together and prepare to howl at the screen.


What other movies have made you think twice about going into the water?