This Movie Bites
By Carl Kozlowski
There are some films that leave audiences with a sense of wonderment about how they were made. They look in awe at the screen and experience special effects, acting performances or superb writing unlike anything they’ve ever seen or heard.
Think Avatar, for instance (well, for the effects, not the story or performances).
Then there are those movies that are so bad that audiences stare at the screen with a sense of wonderment about why they were ever made.
In this case, think of the new movie Piranha 3DD. Ironically, the film (to use the term “film” loosely) has a distant yet special connection to Avatar creator James Cameron. The self-proclaimed King of the World wrote the screenplay for Piranha Part Two: The Spawning—the second in the pair of late ’70s/early ’80s films that inspired the current cinematic train wreck and its 2010 predecessor, Piranha 3D. Cameron wisely used the pseudonym H.A. Milton and went on to win numerous Oscars, but unfortunately no one involved in Piranha 3DD was smart enough to hide their names.
Hitting theaters two years after Piranha 3D scared up less than $30 million at the box office, it’s inexplicable why this sequel was made at all. Then again, someone conjured up Weekend at Bernies II back in the day, so anything is possible.
The extremely minimal and incredibly slapdash plot of 3DD centers around the opening of a water amusement park run by an unscrupulous lout played with enjoyable relish by David Koechner. Koechner has made a career out of playing rednecks and obnoxiously sexist corporate meatheads, and he doesn’t disappoint here as he stands determined to open the park despite his own stepdaughter’s claims that a vicious strain of piranhas is heading their way after having wreaked havoc in an Arizona lake during the first film two years before.
As the stepdaughter futilely tries to convince everyone to stay out of the water, the fish attack en masse, leaving blood, guts and even decapitated heads all over the place. You may wonder how a tiny fish that bites people to death manages to decapitate a human, but then again, 3DD writers Marcus Dunstan and Pat Melton are the guys responsible for the fourth through seventh Saw movies, and so are not likely to be medical experts.
Other than Baywatch star David Hasselhoff playing himself as he makes an appearance at the park opening between implied drunken threesomes with babes at his hotel, the Piranha 3DD has nothing memorable to show for it. Wait—I forgot a cameo appearance by Ving Rhames, who at one point in his career won a Golden Globe Award for playing boxing promoter Don King but has since found himself appearing in both newer Piranha films. In the first one, the fish bit off half his legs, but in this one, he gets his revenge by revealing that his prosthetic metal legs are actually fully functioning machine guns that he uses to kill off a bunch of the evil critters.
Beyond that, there’s just a sea of gore, chewed up body parts, naked breasts in jiggling close-ups and a truly bizarre sex scene in which a guy gets his penis chewed by a piranha which had—unbeknownst to him and his lover—swum up into her nether region when she went skinny-dipping earlier in the film. If this sounds like a good use of your time, money and brain cells, well, don’t blame me.
Cynically directed by John Gulager and shamefully produced by Bob Weinstein, who should know better, considering he and his brother, Harvey, have won more Oscars than anyone else in Hollywood over the past two decades, Piranha 3DD is only 82 minutes long but still has the audacity to ask audiences to pay the extra cost for 3D glasses.
And even then, the last 10 minutes of the film consist of unfunny bloopers woven into the closing credits. Prospective audiences should run screaming from the theater as loudly as the water park victims do onscreen.