Starring Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szohr, Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames and Jerry O’Connell. Directed by Alexandre Aja. 89 Minutes. 18A
With the exception of Toy Story 3, which will always be charming in any and every dimension, 3D has become a cinematic synonym for well, utter shit. Whenever Hollywood wants to cash in on a epic crapfest, they film it in 3D (or worse, transfer it, post-production), knowing that the extra three bucks will jack up their box-office intake and distract gullible movie-goers from the shady storytelling. And they’ve done it again with the newest dimension-defying blockbuster, Piranha 3D. But this time, the obvious exploitation feels like a shrunken-but-free beachside tee. It just fits.
As if you couldn’t tell from it’s too-obvious-not-to-be-awesome title, Piranha 3D doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. In fact, it’s almost painfully aware of it’s ridiculousness, which of course, is the point. From the opening scene, where Jaws alum Richard Dreyfuss fights against an awful CGI whirlpool and ends up swimming with the masochistic fishies, you can smell the self-aware sleaze. But trust me, it’s worth a whiff.
Piranha 3D is honestly too straightforwardly campy to be a big-ticket movie. But that’s why it works. The story, for one, is straight out of the terribly awesome Blockbuster B-movie horror bin. Picture this – it’s Spring Break somewhere in the Southern U.S. The girls are going wild and the boys are loving it a little too much. Little do they know, their beach blanket boink-fest is gonna get crashed by some ancient flesh-eating fish! The catch is – there is no catch! That’s exactly what it is! And it’s awesome!
But wait – there’s so much more! The two lead characters are played by lame, secondary CW stars (Steven R. McQueen and Jessica Szhor of The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl, respectively)! And the sheriff’s department? It’s made up of, who else, Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction), and everyone’s favourite self-deprecating badass babysitter, Elisabeth Shue (Hamlet 2)! What about the token perv-tastic man child, you say? Say hello to the porno director edition of Jerry O’Connell, complete with a spray-tan and a Speedo! And wait a tic, who’s that crazy old dude who works the aquarium and knows a bit too much about prehistoric pikes? Why it’s Doc Brown – in a tropical button-down!
Hyperactive hyperboles and unnecessary 80s-themed rhymes aside, the only person who is not perfectly ridiculous in the movie is Adam Scott (TV’s Party Down, Parks and Recreation), who plays a geeky-yet-sexy seismologist (Actually). But he hardly gets screen time, and when he does, he’s doing the dirty, non-speaking work (think picking up dead chicks on a Jet-Ski). Meanwhile torture porn director/actor Eli Roth (Hostel; Inglourious Basterds) gets nearly-top billing for his cameo as a Day-Glo visor rockin’, unnamed wet t-shirt contest host who could go-head-to-head with Cheech’s character from From Dusk ‘Til Dawn in a horndog-themed beat poetry race. Talk about gross indecency.
Although Roth, who has grossed out even the weirdest horror fans with his fucked-up flicks, makes a cameo, he had nothing to do with the flick’s totally cringe-worthy death scenes (although, he does get it pretty bad himself). But, it sure seems like it (the real director is his bud, Alexandre Aja, who did Mirrors and The Hills Have Eyes remake). Don’t even think of buying a ticket to this piece of terribly awesome trash if you’ve got a weak stomach. The dismembered, uh, member, scene is not nearly as goregasmic as you’ve heard – but then again, that’s probably a good thing. But beware of the big beach party blood bath. I’m gonna go out on a disgustingly dismembered limb and say watch out for engines and long hair.
At it’s camp-tastic core, Piranha 3D is hand-made for bad movie mavens and sexually deprived (or is it depraved?) frat boys (Just try and count the number of random tit shots). So if don’t associate with either group, save your Scene points for something like Eat, Pray, Love (or get ready for an D+ dinner and a movie night). But you’re anything like this cheese-loving wannabee critic, you’ll give this B-movie bonanza a B+. And maybe even a high-five.