I always try to be as impartial as possible when walking into the cinema. I usually give films the benefit of the doubt at first, thinking “This may not be terrible. At least it’s not by MichaelBay.” However, for Piranha 3DD, going in I was expecting a schlocky, pretty terrible film. The one promised by the ridiculous trailer and the classy title. The film starts out promisingly. Gary Busey finds a cow’s body in a river. The body is filled with piranha eggs. The cow farts and the piranhas get released, eating Busey. Good stuff.
The basic plot, if you even care (and let’s be honest, you don’t) is that the carnage this time is set in a water park, co-owned by Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) who is distraught when she discovers that her co-owner and step-father (can’t ever trust those step-parents), Chet (David Koechner, he’s Champ in Anchorman) has turned part of the park into a section manned by ‘water-certified strippers’. Yes, really.
The single strongest aspect of the film is the cameos. I’ve already mentioned Gary Busey, but several others liven up the film, specifically Christopher Lee as a scientist studying the piranhas (when asked why he’s using a frog as bait for a piranha, he replies “Because I ran out of puppies this morning.”) and David Hasselhoff as a celebrity lifeguard. The Hoff is the real star of the show here, relentlessly spoofing his Baywatch persona and trying not to jiggle too much when he runs. Just try not to crack a smile when he tries to convince a little kid that he’s actually famous, getting progressively more frustrated and reeling off ever more obscure roles he had.
He should have said that he was the God of Germania
Ving Rhames also returns from Piranha 3D as Deputy Fallon. He now has shotgun legs. Mere words cannot describe the spectacle of him blowing up piranha in slow motion while his proud caretaker watches on in awe.
However, the pace of the film sags when there are no semi-famous cameos to speed things along, which is unforgivable seeing as the running time is only around 70 minutes (I’m not including the 10 minutes of outtakes tacked on at the end, which is mostly just people laughing as the audience sat stony-faced.) The set-up is also ridiculously drawn out, taking far too long to get to what we all wanted to see, the carnage at the water park. Instead, the film meanders along for the first 50 minutes or so, only spiced up when a piranha attack leads to a guy neutering himself more effectively than any doctor ever could. “Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina!” stands tall as my favourite line of the year. Besides that, all you really get are people going around looking kind of moody.
Although perhaps they’re not that bad…
It goes without saying that the acting is unlikely to be good in this type of film. In fact, you don’t really want it to be, as these types of films are almost always funnier the worse the acting is. However, in Piranha 3DD, the cast tries to play it straight most of the way through, which fails pretty spectacularly. Trying to play these type of cheesy, throwback to the 80s films seriously rarely works, and definitely doesn’t here. No-one cares about the romance sub-plot, or the fact that Chet is corrupt. The only reason anyone goes to see these films is to watch people being killed in various different gruesome and entertaining ways. Neither the director (John Gulager) nor most of the actors seem to get it, and the film suffers for it. The Hoff gets it, and steals every scene he’s in. When the Hoff is far and away the best actor in a film, even one with a bra size in the title, you know something is wrong.
The Piranha didn’t look great in either the previous film or the trailer, so I had lowered my expectations accordingly. Even with that in mind though, the CG looks terrible, with the piranha looking more fake than the CG Arnie in Terminator Salvation and not nearly as threatening.
To be fair, there aren’t too many things more terrifying than a naked CG Arnold Schwarzenegger
The 3D, despite the fact that it merits two Ds this time around, is really nothing special, with its most inventive use being getting to see a severed genital in semi- 3D. And I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.
The Hoff sings. The Hoff should never, ever sing.
Although I’ve been pretty hard on it, Piranha 3DD isn’t all bad. If you grab a bunch of friends and alcohol, everyone will probably enjoy cameo-spotting and ignoring any scene without a piranha in it. However, don’t even think about going into this one solo and sober. Better people than you have tried and went slightly mad. I still see that penis chopping scene in my nightmares.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: Whenever you get so bored of the plot you’re tempted to take a shot.
Take a drink: Whenever a celebrity cameo saves you from wanting to take a double shot.
Take a shot: For the Hoff. Cause he’s awesome.