Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Piranha 3D

The campy goodness that is Piranha 3D is the quintessential "guy 3D movie" that doesn't take itself seriously but is entertaining none the less. While the movie is not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, it is fun to watch and makes you feel a little better about throwing down your 12 bucks (yes, you do need to pay the jacked-up 3D prices).

How this picture escaped the MPAA rating of NC-17 and came in as a hard R is beyond me. There's a good 5-10 minutes of solid nudity (probably one of the better on-screen portrayals of an actual spring break scene), at least 15-20 dismemberments (including arms, legs, breasts and a penis) and a good amount of adult language. Throw in some cocaine snorting and this has to be as far a movie studio can possibly push the R rating. Leaving the theater, I noticed a few kids who had to be 9 or 10 and I wondered how their parents were feeling that their children had just witnessed THAT. Awkward!

The cast is not great but we do have some well known actors who aren't afraid to play along with the cheesy plot and deliver "so bad it's good" lines of dialogue. Elizabeth Shue has been resurrected from somewhere and she and Ving Rhames lead a group of local sheriffs at Lake Victoria who have to deal with the unearthing of killer Piranha during a wild and crazy spring break at the lake. Shue's return to acting now leaves Alicia Silverstone as the queen of the "where are they now" actresses. Jerry O'Connoll plays a sleazy porn director who lures Shue's son and his girlfriend into a movie shoot on a private boat. O'Connoll's character is so over the top that he's hilarious. I don't think any other actor could play that role. It's good to see Christopher Lloyd getting work as well. Watching his scenes as the cooky scientist that passes on knowledge of the prehistoric fish brought back some good Doc Brown memories.

After the first half buildup, the fish get to go on their feeding frenzy during the rest of the movie. Director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) raises the bar on the level of inventiveness when it comes to gory graphic death scenes. Many more people get split and torn apart limb-from-limb in this movie than in Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart combined. The 3D effects of the carnage only enhance the feel of the mutilation. The overall 3D quality is not on par with Avatar or even some of the recent digitally animated 3D films, but some of the gimmick 3D sequences do work and are quite funny at times.

The bottom line with Piranha 3D is that if you're a guy and want to be entertained with violence, foul language, plenty of "boobies" and a whole lot of blood, then this movie is for you. I was entertained for sure and enjoyed the brisk 1.5 hour runtime. This is not Oscar caliber fare but for what it's worth it was a nice way to spend part of a lazy Sunday afternoon. 3.5 out of 5 JRs for this one.

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