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Idiotic shark-storm TV movie takes a big, hilarious, deliciously entertaining bite out of the Big Apple

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Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard in Sharknado 2: The Second One.

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Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard in Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Stupid. Pointless. Mindless. Ridiculous. Flimsy. Cheap. Clumsy.

These are all aptly chosen adjectives for last year's surprise-hit made-for-cable movie Sharknado and its about-to-attack followup, Sharknado 2: The Second One.

But here are a few more that are equally appropriate:

Hilarious. Campy. Raucous. Silly. Astutely self-aware. Deliriously, delightfully entertaining.

The loopy, intellectually lightweight, social-media-frenzy-fuelling Sharknado experience returns to TV tonight when Sharknado 2: The Second One has its Canadian première at 8 p.m. on Space (preceded by last summer's original Sharknado silliness).

Simply put, it's one of those TV movies that's so unapologetically bad that it is, in its own unique way, also pretty great.

Like the first Sharknado, which was set in Los Angeles, this sequel concerns itself with a freak storm that sucks up sharks from the ocean and then, after making landfall, drops them, angry, hungry and with teeth fully gnashing, onto an unsuspecting urban population.

This time, the target is New York City. As the "story" -- and we're using the notion of cohesive narrative very loosely here -- Finley "Fin" Shepherd (Ian Ziering) and April Wexler (Tara Reid), the heroes of the L.A. sharks-from-the-sky calamity, are en route to the Big Apple to promote the book she has written about the ordeal.

In a pre-opening-credits sequence that's a perfect mood-setter for the rest of the movie, Sharknado 2 pays homage first to a classic air-paranoia episode of The Twilight Zone (which featured a young William Shatner) and then to the wacky Airplane! comedies (complete with a cameo by Robert Hays as the 'Nado plane's pilot).

As the jetliner flies through what's clearly a quickly gathering storm, Fin looks out the plane window and thinks he sees something -- perhaps with teeth and a tail -- attacking the engine. The flight crew urges him to calm down, but like Shatner in that early Zone, he won't be deterred.

"It's happening again," he tells April.

Indeed, it is. But this time, a convergence of superstorms is about to take a big, hammerheaded bite out of the unsuspecting Big Apple.

What follows, of course, requires little explanation -- sharks rain down from the sky (and, in some cases, up from the subway system); some Gothamites are swallowed whole, while others are chomped neatly in half. And it's up to Fin -- with April lending a hand, both literally and figuratively -- to figure out how to save the Great White Way from an airborne wave of great white sharks.

There's an added bonus in Sharknado 2 for north-of-the-border viewers: the Canadian version will include a brief scene in which an actor playing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tries to offer Canada's support during the shark-storm crisis. The outcome, of course, is perfectly predictable.

It's a testament to the immediate camp-classic status earned by the first Sharknado that celebrities were literally lined up to make cameo appearances in the sequel. Actors, comedians, musicians, reality-TV stars, morning-show hosts, professional wrestlers, high-profile bloggers and TV-commercial pitchmen all find their way into the dizzyingly fast paced, proudly nonsensical action.

But Sharknado 2, for better and worse, belongs to Ziering and Reid, two past-the-horizon actors who were so desperate for work last year that they signed on for Sharknado despite having actually read the script; clearly, the thinking was that it would be a decent paycheque for a bad movie that no one would ever see.

This time around, they're in full action-hero mode, gratefully embracing the Sharknado 2 experience, delivering completely straight-faced performances despite knowing they're in one of the campiest small-screen movies of all time.

They deserve credit. Or something. It's unlikely that their careers will be revived by a couple of Sharknado credits, but they certainly will have had some big, stupid fun during this temporary emergence from showbiz obscurity.

And this is probably good news, both for them and for us: for future summer silliness's sake, the idea of a Sharknado 3 wouldn't exactly bite. Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2014 C1

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