Nickelodeon alums team up in funny book-inspired heist film.
  • Review Date: August 24, 2013
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The story intends to entertain rather than to educate.

Positive messages

Teens operate on the philosophy that two wrongs make a right, justifying breaking the law to retrieve an item they had conned from them. Among their offenses are breaking and entering, computer hacking, false impersonation, and destruction of property, and, not surprisingly, they're not held accountable for any of it. From Swindell's point of view, there's karma at play, and he gets what he deserves in the end, but the teens' actions can hardly be applauded in a real-life sense. For the most part, teens hold to social stereotypes like "in" crowds and "geeks," but as Amanda's character evolves, she challenges these strict definitions.

Positive role models

If you judge them by their actions in the story, the teens' behavior would condemn them as criminals. They break into a store, hack a hotel's server, and rack up charges on someone else's credit card, and their actions cause a lot of messy mayhem that other people have to clean up. Of course that's all part of the fantastical nature of the story, and the kids still come across as generally likable and downright ingenious in their problem-solving. Teens prove to be clever and creative, while adults generally come off as incompetent and dim.

Violence & scariness

Comical accidents and pratfalls yield some bumps and bruises, but they're always meant to be funny for the audience. An elevator tosses around its rider, a man sends a woman dressed as a blind nun down a steep road in a wheelchair, an extendable arm gives a victim a black eye, a deep-tissue massage gets rougher than expected, teens slap each other during a staged argument, etc.

Sexy stuff

Some teens allude to having feelings for peers, and there's some mild flirting. On a number of occasions boys judge girls' appearances, calling some "hot" and ranking them on a scale of physical attraction. In one scene, a man is shown in a bikini swimsuit; in another, it's implied that a girl accidentally catches sight of a boy in the nude (a scream is heard but nothing is shown).


One instance of "shut up."


The movie is based on a book by the same name.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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?

Movie details

DVD release date:March 19, 2014
Cast:Ariana Grande, Jennette McCurdy, Noah Crawford
Director:Jonathan Judge
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Book characters
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byWKTV August 25, 2013

Nickelodeon has DESTROYED this movie.

If you have read the book you will hate this movie. The movie is basically nothing like the book. They changed the story a LOT!! The casting and acting are very bad. This book had some good potential to be a good movie but this movie is horrible.They also changed the setting and added characters that are not needed. Nickelodeon has destroyed this movie. Do not waste your time or money on this movie.
Parent Written byBridgit Anderson December 2, 2013

It was very nice.

I think this is a great movie overall, but there is some "language". Kids and up will be able to watch this because they are maturing and they will understand that the movie is not real life. Overall, it is a great and hilarious movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Teen, 13 years old Written bylizbiz_13 November 24, 2013

Fun movie to watch.

This was one of the better nick movies. It was filled with mild action and humor, I really enjoyed it.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence


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