Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Couldn't Quite Mask The Fish Smell

I hate you, Piranha 3D. I really do. I was fooled into thinking this would be pretty good. It started off nicely but I guess you'd say the movie got weighed down but stupidity and grossness and ended up sinking to the bottom. Get that? Cause it's about fish...never mind.

The movie opens in an Arizona resort community called Lake Victoria. We see a fisherman played by Richard Dreyfuss as he becomes the unfortunate first victim of a previously unknown species of North American piranha and hey, wait, let me back up there. A fisherman played by Richard Dreyfuss? Oscar winning star of stage and screen? THAT Richard Dreyfuss? Hell, if they're using him in a bit part for the opening scene, what's the rest of the movie going to be like? At that point, I couldn't wait to find out. Turns out a great deal of the cast were people I'd not only heard of but actually liked. Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell and Christopher Lloyd all got together to mess with my mind and make me think this movie would be something special. For a while, I thought they'd somehow brought Steve McQueen back from the dead but no, it turned out to be his 22 year old grandson, Steven R. McQueen.

Anyway, it turns out that piranhas have been living under the lake for about 100 million years but were just recently released from their underwater cave by an earthquake. Like all good movie monsters, they knew to pick the most inconvenient time possible to begin their reign of devastation. In this case, it turns out that Lake Victoria is a popular destination for college kids on Spring Break. On a side note, Lake Victoria also seems to have one of the most rigidly enforced No Fat Chicks policies I've ever seen. Every single college girl visiting the town that week looks great in a skimpy bikini and seems to have nothing better to do than gyrate around for the sake of public amusement. Mind you, this is not a complaint. It was one of the reasons I liked the movie at first. Anyway, like all resort towns, this is the time of year that Lake Victoria makes its big money so when Sheriff Elisabeth Shue responsibly suggests they close the lake after mostly eaten corpses start popping up in it, she receives the "Do you know how much money we'd lose?" speech and that sets the stage for the inevitable bloodbath.

But hey, it wouldn't be a monster movie if the Sheriff's kids weren't in mortal peril so her son, Jake (played by the young McQueen), accepts a job offer from Derrick Jones (Jerry O'Connell) who is there to film a Girls Gone Wild style video. To complicate Jake's life, Derrick manages to convince the girl Jake's in love with (Jessica Szohr) to come along. Jake's never bothered to tell this girl he loves her because he's a little bit of a pussy but this means that he can redeem himself by saving her from piranhas in the third act, a feat that should at least earn him a handjob.

Again, I liked the first half of the movie. There were jokes and loads of gratuitous nudity in between the increasingly suspenseful piranha attacks and then the bomb dropped and by that I mean the movie turned into a bomb. It was gory up till that point but around the end of the second act, the gore went off the charts. I suspect the writers and the director got together and said, "Is there such a thing as showing too many people getting their flesh stripped off by piranhas?" after which they all said in unison, "NO!" They also decided that you couldn't have too many piranha stunts such as having one go in through a guy's stomach and out of his mouth. Also, if you ever wondered if there was something worse than watching a piranha eat a man's penis, that would be having the same piranha loudly burp it back up IN 3D!

For no particular reason, I will now tell you that my least favorite type of ending is when the story doesn't really end so they can have leave room for a sequel. Is that what happens here? Sorry, revealing that would be a spoiler.

If all that sounds good to you, Piranha 3D is for you. If it doesn't, you may want to see Eat, Pray, Love or Vampires Suck or...or say the hell with movie theaters, stay home and rent Dr. Strangelove. That's my idea of a good time anyway. Yours probably involves sex.

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