Monday, August 23, 2010

Still Biting After All These Years!

Piranha 3-D (Dimension Films, 2010)

Before the camera:

Elizabeth Shue (Adventures in Babysitting)
Ving Rhames (Casualties of War)
Jerry O'Connell (Stand by Me)
Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future)
Steven R. McQueen (grandson of Steve McQueen!)
Jessica Szohr (TV's Gossip Girl)
Adam Scott (Torque)
Dina Meyer (TV's Birds of Prey)
Kelly Brook (The Italian Job)
Riley Steele (adult entertainment aplenty)
Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws)

Behind the camera:

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Produced by Alexandre Aja, Mark Canton, Grégory Levasseur, Marc Toberoff and 13 other assorted associate and executive producers

Written by Peter Goldfinger & Josh Stolberg

    Although it sports the same title, this is less a remake of the 1978 drive-in classic produced by Roger Corman and directed by Joe Dante than it is a VERY rated R Syuh Fyuh (SyFy - but I write it phonetically) channel Saturday night premiere flick. But this one has the clear advantage of being in 3-D! We start to realize the tongue might be in the cheek in the opening moments as the old guy we see fishing in a small boat turns out to be Richard Dreyfuss in his Matt Hooper outfit from Jaws, singing “Show Me the Way to Go Home” (the song he and Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw sing out on the Orca in Spielberg’s classic) and drinking “Amity” brand beer. Moments later, seismic activity in the lake bed underneath results in our learning several lessons: Lesson #1: this movie is keeping things nice and simple. No long scenes of the local seismic monitoring station predicting quakes to come, no town officials being mad about impending quake activity, none of that. Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws jokes, quake, killer fish swimming up out of resulting crack in lake bed. Lesson #2: there is going to be a lot of CGI in this movie, and it’s going to range from pretty good to PlayStation 1 cut scene in quality; and Lesson #3: they could only afford Richard Dreyfuss for one day.

"What? Was Lorraine Gary too BUSY?"

    From there we get 3-D credits, and then settle in for a little plot as we meet our characters. Young Jake (McQueen) is the son of the town sheriff (Shue) and is on a very short leash, forced to miss out on the town’s annual spring break festivities again to babysit his younger brother and sister (who seemed cloned from the youngest duo on the Partridge Family). He has an almost dating thing going on with Kelly (Szohr) and gets 3-D sodas thrown on him by the town bullies. His luck changes when he meets the gorgeous Danni (Brook) then changes again when he meets her boss Derrick Jones (O'Connell), the hyperactive producer/director of the naughty "Wild Wild Girls" DVD series. With his hormones a'ragin' Jake makes plans to pay off the little ones to stay home and is hired to join the production crew on Jones' rented yacht ostensibly to show the producer the most visually sumptuous spots on the lake but really to see Danni and her co-star Crystal in bikinis and hopefully even less. In the meantime the sheriff and her trusted deputy (Rhames, wasted here, sad to say) find Dreyfuss's chewed up body and send it off for autopsy. The next day, we gear up all of our subplots: while she waits for the autopsy results, Shue also welcomes a scuba crew from that local seismic activity organization I mentioned who plan to dive down and take a look at what the quakes did to the lake's bottom; Jake heads out with Derrick and crew, but not before finding Kelly invited along by the ultra lecherous video producer; to better their fishing (and put more people in jeopardy in several different places) the Partridge Family twins leave the house, jump in a rowboat and paddle over to a small island nearby where they promptly lose the boat back out into the middle of the lake, stranding them; and the producers manage to get about a thousand extras into the town harbor for the Spring Break party. At about the same time, everyone figures out there are prehistoric piranha in the lake when people near them go into the water and red spew foams up. Eventually one is captured and taken to the local pet shop owner (Lloyd) who doubles as a prehistoric fish expert. (!) He warns Shue to get everyone out of the lake, but that's not going to be easy, starting with her kids. Who will survive, and what will be left of them?

After thirty seconds, anyone in the water was Eli Roth's date for the night.

This is a wonderfully silly horror flick done to a T, with gratuitous EVERYTHING, and that goes triple for the cameo by Hostel director Eli Roth. Among the highlights: a nude underwater ballet between Brook and Steele (after they'd been down for about four minutes without air my niece and movie watching bud Sandra leaned over and said they sure were holding their breath for a long time - I pointed out they were wearing their air tanks right up front); more ways to kill people with fish and boating equipment than you ever would have believed possible - good mix of Greg Nicotero & Howard Berger makeup effects and CGI gore here; hundreds of babes in bikinis, a couple of dozen babes out of bikinis; one cheeky piranha who swims into closeup and all but winks at the audience; and 3-D that was added later but obviously planned for early enough to get quite a bit of the usual stuff into your face, and some things I never expected to see floating before my eyes in a 3-D movie. Just when you think this movie has gone as far as it can go in terms of outrageousness, director Aja finds a way to take it a bit further. Rumor has it that Aja wanted Piranha director Dante and Piranha II: The Spawning director James Cameron (yes, that one!) to pop in for a shared cameo as boating safety instructors. As might be expected, Dante was up for it, but Cameron "couldn't fit it in his schedule." That's too bad, as it would have been a hoot. And, despite this flick being almost a complete departure from the original, there is one very welcome climactic nod to the 1978 gem involving McQueen, a boat, and a long (almost magically long) rope that ties them together. As for the acting, Shue, McQueen and Scott play it straight, which does give the later reels some decent suspense, but everyone else is showing up for a wink and a paycheck, which is just fine too. Kudos must also go to O'Connell, who pulls out all the stops in his depiction of Screen Weaseldom right through to his expected messy end. The biggest disappointment is that Rhames, who has a bravura last scene, is given almost nothing else to do. Why hire him if you're not going to let him throw off some wry lines like he does in the Mission: Impossible movies? Still, that's quibbling in a movie like this. It is a lot of fun, and you know going in what you're going to see, (or maybe you don't - all the more reason then) so by all means throw on the glasses and give this one a try!

Let's Get Out Of Here ?

Well, I hate to say it, but with all of the visual assault that is Piranha 3-D unspooling before my eyes, my ears let me down and did not catch The Line in my one viewing in the theater. But I would bet real money it's in there somewhere, and as soon as I confirm it, this section will be rewritten so I don't come off looking so bad...

Eye Candy ?

You tell me.

Kelly Brook (l) and Riley Steele (r)

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "It's got almost everything you could want in a movie called Piranha 3-D. Except Dick Miller."

Until next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Despite its toothy charms, on this one...I won't bite. Maybe I can rope the kids into another screening of Finding Nemo.

  2. Sounds like fun! That's a bummer about Ving being wasted, though. He's great in stuff.

    1. Yeah, his fun side is a little curtailed, I must say.

  3. fully agree with you. a silly fun movie, enjoyable inside AND outside the theater :)

    1. I finally bought it on disc to show my pal Ray - so we could then go see the sequel in the theater. But now THAT ain't happenin'... *sigh*