Review: “Ghost Shark, Swindle”
Oh sure, we could have ignored two TV movies being trotted out in late August — “Ghost Shark,” on Syfy; and “Swindle,” from Nickelodeon — but in terms of content, the Web is as hungry as a made-for-TV, poorly animated shark. And since both involve teenagers and were produced in color….
Although Syfy is still a little drunk over how “Sharknado” became its own Twitter meme/media sensation (even repeating it as a lead-in to “Ghost Shark” on Aug. 22), the channel appears unlikely to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Not that “Ghost Shark” isn’t equally awful; it just isn’t awful in a fabulously promotable way.
At the risk of revealing a familiarity with “Spring Break: Shark Attack,” the plot essentially mirrors that, with teenage kids in bikinis (the gals, anyway) providing the main fodder for the title character, a Great White Shark killed by a fisherman in the pre-credit sequence. For reasons too silly to recap, the shark lives on as a ghost, magically returning anywhere there’s water to seek vengeance on, um, whoever. So if “Jaws” made people afraid to go into the ocean, “Ghost Shark” one-ups it by adding swimming pools and toilet seats to the roster of dangerous locales.
Yet for whatever reason, “Ghost Shark” never approaches the laughably bad stage, settling for just plain ol’ bad. That includes a cameo by “Night Court’s” Richard Moll, who chews even more scenery than the ostensible spectral-finned star of the show.
As for “Swindle,” which will air Aug. 24, it’s sort of the Justice League for Nickelodeon stars — or “Ocean’s Eleven,” if by “Eleven” you mean people who are roughly that age.
The movie brings together Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande (“Sam & Cat”), Noah Crawford and Chris O’Neal (“How to Rock”), Ciara Bravo (“Big Time Rush”) and Noah Munck (“iCarly”) in an adaptation of Gordon Korman’s book, about teenagers who seek revenge against a collector who has conned them out of a $1.2 million Honus Wagner baseball card.
If you do not have posters featuring any of these young actors on your wall, you are probably well advised not to tune in without being accompanied by a minor.
It’s all an excuse for an elaborate caper comedy, with Crawford playing the role of ring leader, who unites a disparate assortment of classmates to undertake the “Mission: Impossible”-type espionage. (Although no sharks are involved, there is an old-fashioned food fight.)
Now, to be fair, both of these movies are produced for very specific audiences, and by that measure “Swindle” is the more tolerable, if only because “Ghost Shark” is so cheesy — even by the standards of its genre — it would be bad for a shark’s cholesterol.
Then again, sharks have been profitably chomping on teenagers since “Jaws 2,” and it’s hard to blame either network for trying to sneak in a late-summer original before the crush of September premieres kicks in.
Now everybody, out of the pool.