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Is There Something Fishy About “Piranha 3DD”?

June 1, 2012

June is busting out all over with today’s release of the boobs-and-bloodfest Piranha 3DD on VOD as well as in theaters. Piranha 3D was one of my favorite movies of 2010—which should give you some idea of what a bad year it was for movies. But it’s all about expectations: I had none for 3D and was pleasantly surprised by the game performances of cast members Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Richard Dreyfuss and Jerry O’Connell (whose member was memorably munched off and spat out by one of the titular fishies) and the visual verve of director Alexandre Aja. Alas, 3DD has almost no Aja moments.

I expected more from 3DD and not just because it’s one bigger. As Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel so wisely pointed out, there’s such a fine line between stupid and clever, and this sequel falls on the stupid side of the line. Only a few 3D veterans return—Christopher Lloyd (madly spoofing Back to the Future’s mad Dr. Brown), Human Giant‘s Paul Scheer (usually hugely funny, but not so much here) and Ving Rhames, who attaches rifles to his leg stumps in one of the few inspired gags.

Fresh chum—er, costars—include Danielle Panabaker, a once-promising actress (HBO’s Empire Falls) who’s been reduced to genre fare, perhaps because she has to compete for roles with her twin sister, Kay: Katrina Bowden, whose witless, flat work as a virgin definitively proves she’s never been in on the joke as 30 Rock‘s Cerie; and David Koechner, who’s only ever been funny by his association with fellow SNL alum Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

Koechner chews the scenery as Panabaker’s stepfather, a redneck who turns the family’s water park into a sex swamp so grody, it makes Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion grotto look like Lourdes. Of course, the toothy predators start attacking the toothsome bathing booties. Speaking of teeth, Gary Busey appears before the opening credits and manages to take a bite out of one of the critters. But the film’s only real biting wit comes from David Hasselhoff savagely parodying himself (stick around for the 82-minute movie’s 10-minute-plus closing credits sequence, which feature bloopers from the Hoff funnier than anything in the script).

Blame for Piranha 3DD‘s toothlessness falls on the slumping shoulders of director John Gulager. I’m amazed Dimension hired him after his incompetence was so thoroughly documented on the final season of the much-missed reality show Project Greenlight, when he butchered the splatter flick Feast. Gulager once again gives his character-actor dad, Clu, a cameo. But this clumsy movie proves that while Piranha 3DD has a Clu, John Gulager doesn’t have a clue.

Will you be gobbling up Piranha 3DD this weekend? Spit out a comment!

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