'Sharknado 2' review: Taking a bite out of the Big Apple

Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) battles a shark on Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) battles a shark on a New York City street in "Sharknado 2: The Second One." Photo Credit: AP / Syfy

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REVIEW

THE TV MOVIE "Sharknado 2: The Second One"

WHEN|WHERE Wednesday night at 9 on Syfy

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) and April Wexler (Tara Reid) are world-famous, having stopped the shark/tornado menace, and are heading to New York. But Fin notices something outside the window on approach to JFK. Is that ... a shark?! On the ground, Fin sets about warning the world of impending disaster. His high-school girlfriend, Skye (Vivica A. Fox), and brother-in-law Martin (Mark McGrath) believe him. Soon, Fin reaches a sobering realization: "Even the sharknadoes are tougher in New York."

MY SAY "Sharknado" was recent TV history's purest expression of that trusty old William Goldman observation that nobody in Hollywood knows anything. Add a few sharks to some tornadoes, combine with a not-even-remotely-plausible story, along with dialogue to match. Next, hire some almost-well-known actors who need to pay the mortgage -- in fact, desperately need to pay the mortgage. Finally, get a title, which in that instance pretty much wrote itself.

Attention, or at the very least ridicule, seemed assured. Syfy got attention all right -- in one of the single biggest social media hits of 2013.

Of course this was unexpected. How could it be otherwise? But the net outcome nevertheless remains the same: The sequel has arrived and is officially loaded with expectations.

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Syfy had a couple of ways to go here. The obvious way was to make the sequel worse -- which is to say "better" -- by adding even more low-camp, more ineffably awful dialogue, more utterly clueless performances and at least one killer shot to exceed "Sharknado's" most memorable scene, in which Fin chainsawed his way out of a great white.

The good news is that "The Second One" often is worse (in a good way) and does boast at least one viral YouTube clip, starring the head of the Statue of Liberty. (Poor Lady Liberty.)

But "The Second One" is also more predictable, silly and self-conscious of the legacy -- absurd as it might seem to use the word "legacy" anywhere near a review about "Sharknado."

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It is also conspicuously comical. In fact, "The Second One" is set up as an homage to "Airplane!," the great disaster spoof that inspired so many other spoofs. Even Robert Hays stars in the pre-credit sequence, probably the best two minutes of the entire movie. Otherwise there are far too many cameos here -- also homage to "Airplane!," or maybe just a direct ripoff. Kelly Osbourne, Richard Kind, Judah Friedlander, Robert Klein ... The list goes on (and on), each here to essentially prove they're in on the joke, or to boost Twitter traffic. Most are pointless, a couple tedious and some blatantly serving corporate logrolling, foremost Al Roker and Matt Lauer (Syfy and NBC are both part of NBCUniversal), who at least gets to deliver one of the best lines: "Thank you for watching this special edition of 'Today.' We'll now resume our regularly scheduled programming."

The sharks? The 'nadoes? Sure, they are fine. But we've been there, seen that. Next ...

GRADES

For "Sharknado" fans: B-

For viewers with highly refined tastes -- or any taste -- and sharks: F+

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