Like much else in modern entertainment, "School Gyrls," a new "movie" premiering Sunday on Nickelodeon, is an element in a cross-platform marketing plan. (It is a movie in the sense that it is a stand-alone talking picture, not that it is any longer than your average hour of commercial-filled television.) That's fine: I have no problem with being marketed to across platforms, as long as it's done with verve and personality, and that's the case here. It's not as if show business has been ever an exercise in altruism.
Directed and co-written with visual and verbal wit by Nick Cannon, himself a product of the Nickelodeon star-making machinery and now the host of a New York City radio show, "America's Got Talent," and chairman of Teen Nick -- an executive, not an honorary title -- "School Gyrls" will also come at you as an eponymous urban-bubble gum group, a novel and a comic book. A single is already available for download from the usual places. Corporate pop constitutes a tradition now, and though the songs here may be calculated to a sonic millimeter, that doesn't mean they aren't also authentic.
The story is so thin as to be nearly invisible and peremptorily collapses into a weak ending -- notwithstanding the inevitable Battle of the Good and Evil Dance Teams and an appearance by tween idol Justin Bieber, whose charm, to paraphrase an old blues line, the men don't know but the girls 9-14 understand. And even by the standards of these things, there is a marked lack of interest in character development or emotional depth.