Looking for a little drinking game? Every time you spot an actor you recognize in “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” tip a glass.
By the time Matt Lauer turns up, you should be sufficiently buzzed to enjoy its campy, over-the-top brand of action.
Stuffed with celebrity cameos (from Billy Ray Cyrus as a language-mangling surgeon to Judd Hirsch as a taxi driver), the sequel to last year’s Syfy surprise is sure to provide the kind of fun you used to get at drive-in theaters.
On their way to New York, Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) and April Wexler (Tara Reid) encounter strange weather aboard a doomed airplane. Sharks and tornados are attacking, suggesting they’re in the same dilemma they faced in the original “Sharknado.”
Forced to land the plane (when an oh-so-recognizable pilot is sidelined), Shepard hits the ground running, alerting others about the impending sharknado.
Lauer and Al Roker pick up on the problem; folks at CitiField realize they’re in for a blizzard – in the middle of summer. To stop the onslaught of sharks, Shepard makes like MacGyver and gathers the necessary tools (yup, even a chainsaw) to do battle.
April, meanwhile, is in the hospital recovering from a fairly serious shark bite. She, too, knows she had to spring into action – consequences be damned – and leaves well before she’s healed.
Working their angles, Fin and April cover plenty of New York turf. He does battle on subways and streets; she hits hot spots.
Director Anthony Ferrante shows so many landmarks he could almost pitch this as a travelogue. He even manages to include a “heads will roll” sequence that spares no expense – or cast member.
While it isn’t as much of a surprise as the first “Sharknado,” this one manages to up the ante and take advantage of its pop culture standing. When fairly big names spout Thunder Levin’s tongue-in-cheek words, you know it isn’t TV’s idea of “Airport 1975.”
Ziering acts like he’s the next Bruce Willis; Reid looks like she was born in Aaron Spelling’s 1970s. Together, they’re a low-budget director’s dream team.
While some of the special effects are iffy, they get the story from A to B and let Levin toss in some wincingly funny one-liners. Ziering and Reid get one of those “jump the shark” moments at the end, which should open the door for a third outing.
“Sharknado 2” isn’t the best film of summer. But it sure makes a summer that bites a little more palatable.
“Sharknado 2: The Second One” airs July 30 on Syfy.