Swindle: TV Movie Review

So what do you get when you put of all Nickelodeon’s biggest teen stars in one movie?

You get the kiddie version of Ocean’s Eleven and the Italian Job, that’s what happens.

Griffin Bing is the high school kid who hooks everybody up with whatever they need. He has the connections, he has the charisma and he has the smarts to make things happen. He also has a best friend named Ben, who is leaving for Montana soon because his inventor dad needs to take a job offer. When the two besties unexpectedly find a rare baseball card in the crevice of Ben’s house, they sell it to an antique dealer named Swindell, who swindle them out of the card with an estimated value of $1.2 million. In order to get back the card and boost Ben’s chances of not moving to Montana, the two assemble a group of their friends — Savannah, the actress (Jennette McCurdy), Amanda, the gymnast/second prettiest girl in school (Ariana Grande), Darren Vader, the Muscle (Noah Munck) and the hacker/Griffin’s sister Melissa (Ciara Bravo) to pull off the biggest swindle against the biggest swindler in town.

I don’t really think that swindling and playing tricks on someone is a great kid friendly message but I do admit that Nick stepped out of the box in terms of casting for this one to make it an interesting watch. Jennette McCurdy, who is often typecast as the boyish bully Sam in iCarly and Sam and Cat, is given the role of a girly high maintenance actress, while Ariana Grande, who is currently the biggest star of the lot, was obviously given the coolest role of the cast as the gymnast who performs a lot of cool stunts. I don’t think she was effective as the popular girl though because she had the tendency to look spaced out like her Cat character. The way she spoke was so soft that even if she was throwing zingers or doing something cool, she still came out as nice. On the other hand, Noah Munck’s bully character was very cool, and as much a departure from his iCarly character Gibby as possible. He made it work, making him one of the more effective characters in the cast.

Ciara Bravo’s Melissa could have been more developed as a character because she was basically reprising her role in Big Time Rush as the smart little sister, but I cannot fault her for this because it was the scriptwriter/director’s job to do more with her.

The star of the show was really Griffin Bing (Noah Crawford) and his partner in crime Ben (Chris O’Neal), two of the hosts of Nick’s You Gotta See This, a blooper show that had them poking fun at the videos sent to them, and ragging on each other. They also starred together in How to Rock although honestly, I haven’t seen this show. Apparently though, the chemistry between these two actors was just so good that its always fun to see them interact because of the level of comfort they have for each other.

There were a lot of funny moments in this TV movie, a lot of slapstick and a lot of cool music thrown in for good measure. The approach was really fresh and the editing was cool and there was no doubt that the show was made for kids and young adults.

All in all, Swindle was pretty simple, even though it had a more complicated plot that Nick’s previous offerings. Unfortunately, because of the amount of stars in the movie, it was hard to make sure that they each had equal exposure and there were those who suffered from this imbalance. Still, I think Nick is on the right track in developing these TV movies because it does have a stable of talented kids to star in them. Swindle airs in the Philippines on May 16 on Nickelodeon.

By the way, Swindle is based on a book by the same name by Gordon Korman.