Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Aiming For Humor, Piranha 3DD Is Still Gross.

The Good: Some of the acting, 3-D effects
The Bad: Absolutely ridiculous plot and execution, No character development, The acting from the secondary characters.
The Basics: Absurd and graphic in all of the worst possible ways, Piranha 3DD is little more than a gory porn flick that fails to satisfy on any level.

There are torturous aspects of being a film reviewer. During Summer Blockbuster season, audiences are inundated with slews of films and while that usually is a thrill, not all of the movies released as summer fare are even remotely worthwhile. Piranha 3DD is one such film that is so bad, it makes one wonder how anyone can justify spending millions of dollars to make movies like it. To its credit, Piranha 3DD is so absolutely, unbelievably ridiculous that it does not even try to take itself seriously.

As a sequel to Piranha 3D (reviewed here!), Piranha 3DD is not campy; it is a parody of itself and more often than not it is obvious. When it is not utterly ridiculous, it is nauseatingly gross. Piranha 3DD plays in hyperboles; the characters are almost universally dumb, the nudity is in-your-face in a way that only a teenager might find it enjoyable and the gore is so excessive that Piranha 3DD, despite being light on plot and character and high on special effects, cannot be considered a “popcorn movie.” In fact, the only reason to have any sort of snack with you while watching Piranha 3DD is so you have a container in which to vomit . . . because the need is likely to arise, except for those who have been desensitized by such films as this in the past.

Near the now-(mostly)deserted Lake Victoria, killer piranhas resurface from eggs, despite the locals being aware of the piranha problem. As the local waterpark reopens with an adult-themed section – Big Wet – the owner of the waterpark, Chet, is looking to have a profitable go of the business. But Chet’s hopes are dampened some when his step-daughter, Maddy, returns from college for the summer. As a co-owner, she has real issues with the management of the waterpark. She is shocked when two of her friends are killed at the nearby lake. After determining that the waterpark is not at risk from the piranhas, Maddy’s friend accidentally wounds her boyfriend when a piranha that swam into her vagina bites his penis while they have sex.

From there, the situation gets even worse. Chet is illegally pumping water from an underwater river into the waterpark and that gives the new swarm of piranha the access they need. Bursting into the waterpark, carnage ensues – diminished some by the return of Deputy Fallon and celebrity lifeguard David Hasselhoff. As Maddy fights for survival, Big Wet gets very bloody.

Piranha 3DD is an exceptionally easy film to write off; the studio more or less did that when they released it digitally simultaneous with the theatrical release. The advantage of the digital release is that you can pause or turn the film off without feeling like you are out a whole lot (unlike walking out of a theater after paying 3-D film prices, which is a tough thing to do). The advantage of seeing Piranha 3DD on the big screen is the 3-D effects. To be fair to Piranha 3DD, the effects are pretty impressive. So, for example, because the film was shot in 3-D, big, bouncing breast shots actually feature giant, round breasts, as opposed to two layers of flat-shots, as one gets when a film is made into 3-D in post-production.

The only other positive noteworthy aspect of Piranha 3DD is the reappearance of Christopher Lloyd’s zany fish expert Goodman. Lloyd seems not to take the material he is given too seriously and that makes his melodramatic deliveries even more funny. Similarly, David Koechner is appropriately funny for his part in Piranha 3DD. Chet might not be the defining role of his career, but David Koechner is good in Piranha 3DD.

Beyond that, Piranha 3DD is universally bad. And to make the distinction; as a reviewer, I am subjected to a lot of bad movies. There are bad movies that bore me, bad movies that I find unpleasant and movies that I could not be paid to watch again because they are so terrible. Piranha 3DD is, in every way, the latter. From almost the first frames of the movie, Piranha 3DD works to establish itself as a movie that is more bloody, nudity-filled and preposterous than the original. In that way, it succeeds.

That said, Piranha 3DD is unpleasant to watch on virtually every level. Maddy’s character is initially sympathetic, but quickly becomes boring. In a film filled with utter nonsense, like a young woman who does not seem to notice she is carrying a piranha around in her vagina for a whole day, Maddy seems mundane and straightlaced in a way that simply does not work. It is almost like the writers and director John Gulager postulated that if one character seemed normal, all of the rest of the absurdities would be overlooked by the audience. Instead, Maddy comes to appear almost as unreal as Fallon’s use of a prosthetic shotgun for a leg in that she starts out smart and rational, but never breaks down sufficiently amid the ensuing carnage. In other words, if she were truly as smart and real as she appears at the outset, she should have been far more of a mess as her world collapsed around her.

The rest of the characters in Piranha 3DD are vacuous, corrupt and just plain stupid. Maddy is surrounded by young women who are pretty easy, which makes her outrage at Chet’s creation of Big Wet seems all the more forced, and men who are abusive or dull. Maddy’s ex-boyfriend, Kyle, is pretty much a douchebag in a uniform and it is utterly unsurprising when it is revealed that he is getting kickbacks from Chet. The fact that Barry is established as a man who does not know how to swim, yet comes through as the obvious hero character for the climax is head-shaking bad.

The acting in Piranha 3DD is pretty terrible, even though the effects are good. It’s hard to imagine what enticed Katrina Bowden to spend her time away from 30 Rock shooting this piece of crap. This marks only the second work I have seen Danielle Panabaker in – the first being Friday The 13th (reviewed here!) – and while she might have more screentime as Maddy, she is no more memorable. Her reactions are often stiff and she too-frequently delivers her lines as if she is struggling to remember them (or, conversely, without emotional realism because the lines are memorized and being delivered as if by rote).

It is the minor roles – the cameos like David Hasselhoff and the reappearance of Ving Rhames as Fallon – that overshadow the young cast. They give a moment’s joy for the viewer that is far too short. In the end, that is nowhere near enough to make Piranha 3DD worth recommending or watching, now or on video.

For other works with David Koechner, be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
Sex Drive
Get Smart
Let’s Go To Prison
Farce Of the Penguins
Thank You For Smoking
The 40 Year Old Virgin
Waiting . . .
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy


For other film reviews, be sure to check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the films I have reviewed!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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