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‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ review: Way over the top, yet still entertaining

Tara Reid, left, and Ian Ziering are back

Tara Reid, left, and Ian Ziering are back for the fourth installment of Syfy's Sharknado movies. Credit: Syfy / Tyler Golden

THE TV-MOVIE “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens”

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 8 p.m. on Syfy

GRADES For discriminating viewers; shark lovers; sharks; meteorologists: F

For “Sharknado” fans: B


WHAT IT’S ABOUT Megabillionaire and high-tech guru/playboy Aston Reynolds (Tommy Davidson) has saved the world from the sharknado menace by inventing something called a “nuclear astro pod” which subverts the low pressure inside tornadoes by infusing them with isotopes — or something like that. But on the eve of his opening a grand new hotel in Las Vegas, something goes terribly wrong. Coincidentally, Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) is in Vegas for a little R&R, along with his cousin Gemini (Masiela Lusha), also to attend the wedding of his son, Matt (Cody Linley) and girlfriend Gabrielle (Imani Hakim). Before long, April Wexler (Tara Reid) rejoins her family, along with Fin’s dad, Gil Shepard (David Hasselhoff).

Spoiler alert: April — presumed dead in the third installment, “Oh Hell No!” — is back and has been technologically enhanced by mad scientist (also her father) Dr. Wilford Wexler (Gary Busey). As usual, expect lots of cameos, including Cheryl Tiegs, Carrot Top and Duane Chapman.

MY SAY An ice-cold fear may suddenly grip you while watching the fourth installment of “Sharknado:”

What if there’s a fifth “Sharknado” installment?

Then the fear grips a little tighter, along with its twisted, cruel, possibly ineradicable logic — what about a sixth, seventh or eighth one? There’s probably no stopping them now. Sharknados beget more Sharknados. The spawn will continue unabated. It took “Friday the 13th” a full dozen or so installments to finally consign Jason to hell. (Literally: “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.”)

“Sharknado Goes to Hell: The Final Sharknado,” circa 2025?

The shark night of my soul arrived while watching a scene with the Hoff struggling to get out of a car — 35 years in front of the camera may not have made him a better actor but certainly a less agile one. The car is subsequently sucked up by a tornado and then caught midair by Tara Reid’s April who does a double-flip beforehand. How will “Sharknado” 5, umm, improve on that? The reasonably ironclad law of sequels is that each successive sequel must top its predecessor until such time as every last shred of narrative comprehension and audience gullibility has been vaporized. With breathtaking record speed, that actually arrives in “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens” even before the opening credits.

Yes, “Sharknado” is now officially far over the top and far over the rainbow too (And do try to catch all “The Wizard of Oz” refs). The first installment back in 2013 had a vague air of plausibility: There are such things as sharks and such things as tornadoes, and all “Sharknado” did was go the extra step of combining them. But that got old fast. The second movie destroyed New York, the third demolished Orlando’s Universal Studios, and the fourth takes out every other city in America left standing. And not with just plain old water sharknados either. Here we have sand tornadoes and oil ones. There are even huge balls of yarn stuffed with sharks. One of those crushes Paul Shaffer — apparently struggling to find work after the “Late Show” run.

But what’s best about “The 4th Awakens” — like the previous three, also directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, based on a semi-coherent script by Thunder Levin — is that it never loses sight of the stupid. Every single scene, and just about every line, will remind you that this is an unapologetically, gloriously idiotic enterprise. “How’d you get down?” Finn asks Gemini after she bungees off a towering inferno in Las Vegas. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” she slyly replies.

In another scene, Gilbert Gottfried, who plays a news reporter working his first big story for a major morning show, says: “I’m proud to join ‘The Today Show.’ ” Given the context, and the “big story,” and the guy saying it, that may be the single funniest line in “Sharknado” history. There’s a glimmer of hope for the future here after all.

BOTTOM LINE Over the top — beyond way over — but still entertaining.

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