Boobs and Blood in 3-D: God Bless America
Chris had a great post last summer discussing the merits, or lack thereof, in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. My personal favorite passage is this:
"What baffles me about people who defend Transformers is how they can forgive the extremely long stretches where there are no robots, fighting, or explosions. Because in the middle of all this is a filmmaker's need to make it something more than it is, which tips Michael Bay's hand that this movie is not as people are defending it."
Well I like to think Alexandre Aja read this or at least had the same thought while watching Bay's ridiculous giant robot thingamajigee because Aja's Piranha 3-D does not have any of these problems. This movie is 85 minutes of mean ass prehistoric fish eating everything in sight, and considering the movie's setting is Spring Break on a lake in Arizona there is more than enough food on the platter.
This isn't so much a review because to be honest I have no idea how to say that I liked this or didn't. Piranha is a movie that just is what it is. If you are in the mood for a female hangliding on a lake topless and after she goes in the water she comes up with half of her body missing then you'll be more than satisfied. If you're not in the mood for that, I guess go watch The Switch.
But the fact that a movie like this exists in a film era of so much self awareness and pretenious blandness is a revelation of sorts. I'm not saying that there aren't great movies made when one actually tries to do just that (Toy Story 3 and Inception are great recent examples of big budget studio films that work on just about every level), but to see something so effortless and fun with an expert touch is wildly fufilling.
The film also questions the negative mind of the movie geek that holds junk like Transformers 2 and GI-Joe so dearly. The idea that stuffy old critics just don't know how to have fun at the movies is thrown out the window when you see that Piranha has an 81% approval rating from the nation's critics on rotten tomatoes. Here's a movie that has no pretensions about it. For instance, Elisabeth Shue and Adam Scott don't decide to go investigate the origins of the prehistoric piranha by jetting off to Egypt to get clues off of pyramids. In fact, the only exposition we get is about a minute's worth with an underused Christopher Lloyd who just happens to be nearby and has a fossil of the species. That scene is B-Movie gold.
Sure, the movie spends a good thirty minutes with a little bit of set-up. They even throw in the typical Weinstein requested pointless death scene in the middle of everything so you don't have to go too long without some blood and guts. Think Henry Winkler's misplaced death in Scream but with cliff-diving and piranhas.
But then the movie gets to it's final thirty minutes. It's the big Spring Break Wet T-Shirt contest (Hosted by none other than the sleaziest of the sleaziest, Eli Roth) with about three hundred horny people all over the water. It's a smorgasbord of epic proportions that Aja makes brutal use of. What I found more interesting about this sequence than the piranha swimming around having some snacks, was Aja's incorporation of the stupidity of people when exposed to pure chaos. There's one sequence where a guy just jumps in a boat and heads to shore mowing down anyone in his way. It's bizarre and kind of beautiful all at the same time.
We also have Jerry O'Connell playing essentially Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame (Interesting side note: Francis is threatning to sue Dimension films because the movie makes him out to be too sleazy. Really?) and his lovely beauties (Porn star, Riley Steele, and the ungodly beautiful, Kelly Brook) on another part of the lake with the Sheriff's (Shue) son (Steven R. McQueen) for yet another gory set-piece.
There's a lot of nudity, a lot of blood, and a lot of piranhas. Like I said, the movie is what it is and it has so much fun being just that it's hard not to kind of love it. Once again, don't know that I could actually call this a good movie, but it's as entertaining as it needs to be if not more. And even the parts that don't work (like the 3-D for instance) kind of make it all the more endearing. I will say this; Piranha 3-D is the Godfather of 3-D piranha movies. And sometimes isn't that enough?