Syfy’s “Sharknado 2, The Second One,” is everything you’d expect … and less.
The film, premiering Wednesday, is of course the follow-up to the Syfy channel’s runaway 2013 hit about swirling tornadoes of live sharks attacking Los Angeles. This time, the action is in New York, which gives Syfy’s parent company, NBC Universal, a chance to allow Matt Lauer and Al Roker to make complete asses of themselves.
In fact, I would say that Roker’s appearance tops his “I pooped my pants” confessional to Nancy Snyderman. As for Lauer, I know he’s not a real newsman, but this is just embarrassing.
The sequel begins on an airliner that hits major turbulence as it approaches New York City. The pilot is played by an uncredited Robert Hayes, who was the pilot in “Airplane!” Nice in-joke. Wish the others had been as funny, but the shark chomping down on Kelly Osbourne’s lavender-dyed tresses isn’t bad. She plays an airline attendant.
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Anyway, sharks in the air, slamming into the engines and through the windows of the plane, taking out the pilot and another flight attendant, all lead to Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) piloting the powerless plane to a safe landing.
But there’s no safety on the streets of New York as the big shark-filled storm approaches. The rest of the film is about Fin; his ex-wife, April (Tara Reid); and his sister and brother-in-law (Kari Wuhrer and a woefully bad Mark McGrath) teaming up with Viveca A. Fox to keep two and then three swirling columns of sharks from meeting over the city to form a super-sharknado.
The effects are terrible, of course. That was part of the fun in the first film, but the effects here are worse – cheap and boringly bogus. This thing was thrown together so carelessly, the crew couldn’t even wait for overcast days in New York to shoot location shots. While average New Yorkers go about their day in bright sunlight in the background, the actors seem to be caught in a very small weather front, kind of like Joe Btfsplk, the Al Capp cartoon character who walked around with his own personal rain cloud hovering over his head.
There are limp attempts at humor here and there, such as a “jump the shark” inside-TV joke, and there are a good number of cameos, including Andy Dick, Downtown Julie Brown and Billy Ray Cyrus as a doctor. Judd Hirsch plays a taxi driver, and Robert Klein plays the mayor of New York.
Usually, follow-ups to goofy films like the first “Sharknado” suffer because the makers are too conscious of the original. In this case, though, they just don’t seem to give a shark.