What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Swindle is a fun heist story about a group of teens who take matters into their own hands when a scheming con man gets the better of them. From a parent's standpoint, there are some potential problems with how the story downplays acts like breaking into a store, destroying property, and hacking a company's financial system. That said, the fact that the kids' nemesis is a conniving swindler makes it easy to root against him and for the clever teens. For kids, though, the story is an off-the-wall adventure of epic proportions, marked by wacky predicaments, absurd costumes, and skin-of-their-teeth close calls. Teens' dialogue often draws attention to certain characters' physical attributes (some girls are called "hot," while others are dismissed as "geeks"), but a minor plot point challenges these predictable stereotypes in a positive way. There's a lot of chaos that causes accidents and leads to some injuries, but viewers will see it in the comical light that's intended. The bottom line? If your tweens don't mistake the characters' law-breaking as plausible problem solving for the real world, then there's not much to sweat in this absurd comedy.
What's the story?
Griffin Bing (Noah Crawford) and his best friend, Ben (Chris O'Neal), think they've hit the jackpot when they find an antique baseball card and sell it for a few hundred dollars to a local dealer named Swindell (Fred Ewanuick), but it turns out the card is worth far more than that, and wily Swindell plans to cash in big on his purchase. Determined to reclaim what was rightfully theirs, Griffin and Ben assemble a crack team of their peers -– including Darren (Noah Munck), the school bully; Amanda (Ariana Grande), a crafty cheerleader; Savannah (Jennette McCurdy), a well-rounded actress; and Melissa (Ciara Bravo), Griffin's computer genius sister –- to create an elaborate heist and trick the greedy dealer into handing over their treasure.
Is it any good?
Based on a popular book by Gordon Korman, Swindle is an Ocean's Eleven for a younger crowd, a wild adventure with big personalities, hilarious mishaps, and plenty of twists and turns to keep viewers guessing about its eventual outcome. Food fights, a blind nun, angry Russians, and even a "Call Me Maybe" breakout musical segment are just some of the notable features sure to delight kids, and all that's before the teens' ingenious scheme exacts due revenge on a slimy con man you just love to hate.
Even so, the movie's best selling point isn't in the story so much as it is in the talented cast of Nickelodeon alums whose collective star power would give the Ocean's crew a run for its money, at least among this viewing demographic. Tweens will flock to this film for the chance to see McCurdy, Crawford, O'Neal, and the rest of the gang join forces, and the effect really is dazzling. Granted, their no-holds-barred brand of justice wouldn't cut it in the real world (especially with teens behind the wheel), but that's what makes this such a fun departure from reality.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how justice is served in the real world. How would the court process work for a case like this one? Do they have a legal leg to stand on here? How does the term "buyer beware" translate to the selling process, too?
How does Swindell rank among other villains you've seen or read about? Is he truly evil? What are his motivations? Is the desire for money always a bad thing?
Tweens: Were you familiar with all of the movie's stars before watching it? How much of a factor was that in our desire to see it? Did their performances live up to your expectations?