Piranha (2010)


Water is fucking terrifying. Swimming in the ocean, while statistically safe and regularly enjoyed by billions of people worldwide, is nevertheless unbelievably stupid. I don’t care if I’m more likely to be killed by a meteor strike, at least the meteor isn’t actively searching for something dumb enough and slow enough to make a good meal. We tell our kids to buckle up even though the likelihood of an accident is relatively low. But at the beach, parents think nothing of playing Russian roulette with their children’s lives. There’s only a small chance an orca will swim up and eat your kid’s face off, NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT THAT. And every time some asshole surfer comes back minus an arm, everyone is shocked and sympathetic for the poor, unsuspecting victim. In what other situation is it acceptable for people to assume that kind of risk and not be universally admonished for bringing it on themselves? “Sure I let my kid play on the roof during an electrical storm. I mean, the odds of him getting hit were so small…just one those things, RIGHT?”

This lives in America. Have fun on that jet ski.

Swimming in a lake or a river is a lot safer, so maybe the characters in Piranha didn’t completely have it coming. But there are still fucking monsters in the dark waters of those big lakes and I’m pretty sure a ten foot alligator gar will bite your dick off just as well as a shark. You know how many people are torn apart by killer fish in swimming pools every year? ZERO.

The story: I don’t have a 3D TV so I couldn’t follow the story AT ALL. I felt like the alien from Predator trying to watch a movie that was covered in mud. Dear god, why have I allowed the future of entertainment to pass me by? 3D is the stupidest shit on the planet.

Piranha begins with Richard Dreyfuss in a fishing boat, singing “Show Me the Way to Go Home” and spouting various Jaws one-liners, as if you might think the makers of this movie had never seen it. An earthquake cracks open the lake floor, releasing a maelstrom of fanged fish who make short work of old Mr. Holland.

Make a sign, "No swimming, by order of the Amity...er...Lake Victoria PD."

Over on the other side of the lake, spring break is in full effect. Bikini babes and muscle dudes pack sunny Lake Victoria for a week of just about the most generic debauchery imaginable. Do they have wet t-shirt contests? You bet they do. Underage drinking and a healthy disregard for authority? Most fucking definitely. And titties, titties, titties. College! Woo!

This is very important to the narrative.

The “story” follows young Jake, whose sadistic mom (still-hot Elisabeth Shue) makes him skip spring break so he can babysit his kid brother and sister while she cracks skulls as the town’s unreasonably attractive lady sheriff. Jake gets a job scouting locations for a pornographer (Jerry O’Connell! Where you been man? My Secret Identity was the shit.) doing a Girls Gone Wild type thing featuring va-va-voom Kelly Brook. Jake makes the wise choice to chase that cleavage, leaving his weirdly Aryan siblings to fend for themselves. Just when the party’s getting good, tens of thousands of prehistoric piranha swarm the unsuspecting revelers. More than a few shredded bags of silicone will float to the surface before all is said and done.

Sweet Jesus.

Biggest letdown: For the first 40 minutes or so, I was really digging this movie. They waste no time setting up the monsters, there’s a little bit of legitimate suspense, and it features a stellar ensemble. In addition to Dreyfuss, Shue and O’Connell, we get a smattering of Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Adam Scott (damn I miss Party Down), Paul Scheer, Dina Meyer, Eli Roth and even porn star Riley Steele. I mean…who?

Then in the third act, director Alexandre Aja shifts gears so hard he burns out the clutch. Whereas before the movie was content with cheeky gore and smut mixed with a dash of suspense, the third act goes all slow jam serious. Like all of a sudden we’re supposed to focus on the personal relationships he’s been ignoring in favor of lesbian body shots and drawn-out cocaine jokes. Aja doesn’t seem to realize it’s hard to care about the death of a major character when the preceding shot was a fish mugging at the camera before burping up a severed penis.

Did somebody just die? I'm not sure but maybe you should take your top off just in case.

Also, even before we get the obligatory twist ending, the resolution proper doesn’t actually resolve anything at all. We’re left with literally no closure until next summer’s surefire Oscar frontrunner, Piranha 3DD. Piranha 3D on regular DVD is just called Piranha. So will the DVD version the sequel be Piranha D? Let’s hope so.

Why you should watch: It has a lot of potential but Piranha gets lost in the seaweed toward the end. I feel dumber for saying this but there are two main reasons to watch this movie: gratuitous boobies and extreme gore. The CG effects are actually pretty awful – every time someone gets chewed up underwater we’re treated to a school of cartoony fish swimming in a circle around a thrashing, animated body. It looks like ass. The practical effects, on the other hand, are pretty good and definitely graphic. Oooooo, parasailing looks like FUN! Too bad there’s a bunch of- OHMYGOD WHERE ARE YOUR LEGS? Guess that’s just one of those unavoidable risks!

Man, FUCK Nemo.

Memorable Moment: Out on the porno boat, the two girls-gone-wild peel off their gear and plunge beneath the surface. The sunlight through the water casts them in a preternatural glow as they frolic and rub up against each other, in time with the beautiful “Duet of the Flowers”. Having spent the preceding hour praying these two would survive long enough to get naked, it didn’t bother me that they appeared to benefit from some mild digital manipulation. They take their act past the glass bottom of the boat while the guys record their mermaid routine, complete with uncanny breath-holding abilities. It’s all really quite lovely, so you just know where this is headed. Or do you?

This pretty much says it all.

Choice quote: He’s only in it for a few quick scenes but anything Chris Lloyd says is pure gold. Just imagine Doc Brown, eyes wide, frantically waving his hands in the air and saying things like, “This species of piranha…vanished more than twoooo millllllion years agowowowowo!” I just love that Lake Victoria has its own resident paleo-ichthyologist.

About the Rating System

4 Responses to “Piranha (2010)”

  1. I wish you could have seen Piranha 3D in 3D (like I did on, um, opening weekend) because the 3D rocked. I loved the movie, thought it was silly, fun, disgusting, and didn’t find the third act to be nearly as serious as you did. And the movie gets extra bonus points for a few clever non-fish-related deaths, notably girl-who-gets-face-ripped-off-by-propeller and girl-who-gets-sliced-in-half-by-flying-wire.

  2. That’s totally fair – I generally find 3D a waste of money but some movies (especially those actually shot in 3D, like Avatar) have definitely shown me its value.

    I also realize I probably should have given this movie credit for the almost-kissing scene between the two ingenues, that was pretty clever.

    PS – LOVE your blog. Dragon fruit looks like the scariest and awesomest food item in the world. Did it give you any super powers?

  3. […] Piranha – Carnivorous fish like big boobs…FOR DINNER. […]

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