Thursday, September 2, 2010

Piranha 3D (Spoiler Alert?)

I must be insanely naïve. I honestly didn't think there would be that much gore. In a (comedy) horror movie. About carnivorous fish. I'm a genius.

I should point out that this will have spoilers, but really, how much is there to spoil? (Not much.)

I was excited to see Piranha 3D for three very specific reasons:
1) RICHARD DREYFUSS!
2) 3D!
3) RICHARD DREYFUSS!!

So technically Richard Dreyfuss is just one, but he is really epic. He deserves two points. Now, since his name is featured prominently on posters and in trailers, you would think that he would be, if not a main character, then at least a secondary one. No, he dies in the first five minutes. You know a movie has no one famous when even the characters who have less screen time than Brad Pitt in Harry Potter are featured as a big draw. But it worked. So, kudos, I guess? Either way, I was devastated when The Fantastic Mr. Dreyfuss was devoured before the opening credits finished rolling. He lasted two hours against a man-eating great white! He should have at least lived longer than Jerry friggin' O'Connell (though I did love him in Crossing Jordan -- Woody! Ha, ha, ha!).

Speaking of those terrifying two hours of JAWS, the makers of Piranha 3D did wink at the audience by having Mr. Dreyfuss sing "Show Me the Way to Go Home". If you haven't seen JAWS then I suggest you go do that now. Anyone who has seen it may remember the galley scene where Brody (Roy Scheider), Quint (Robert Shaw), and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss!), having just finished dinner, are comparing scars. They get drunk (as manly men in the 70s on the sea tend to do) and Quint starts singing his seemingly favourite song about Spanish ladies. Hooper jumps in during a pause and starts singing "Show Me the Way to Go Home". The other two join in and it seems that they've begun to respect one another. The fun's cut short when Brody hears JAWS smashing his angry face against the side of the boat. Then comes the fighting. Poor Quint.

When Richard Dreyfuss sings the folk song in JAWS, it seems that he's about to die. When he breaks it out in Piranha 3D, he does die. I would give the filmmakers credit for having the song appear with such good timing, but they couldn't really have thrown it in anywhere else. Dreyfuss dies too soon.

Aside from Richard Dreyfuss, the film featured Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown -- Back to the Future), Ving Rhames (Marsellus Wallace -- Pulp Fiction), Elizabeth Shue (Jennifer McFly -- Back to the Future 2 and 3), Eli Roth (Sgt. Donny Donowitz, Bear Jew -- Inglourious Basterds), and Jerry O'Connell (Detective Woody Hoyt -- Crossing Jordan). The list of recognizable actors ends there. And Eli Roth was hardly in it. His character didn't even have a name. Even Doc Brown was barely a character. He played Mr. Goodman (clever!), the marine biologist. Apparently, in Alexandre Aja's world, marine biologists aren't doctors. Otherwise, he would've been Doc Goodman and nerds everywhere would quote his (minimal) lines. But the movie would have to have been a lot better for that to happen. It couldn't compete with Back to the Future for awesomeness.

Now, about that gore. I suppose I've gotten too used to the standard "swimmer screaming, followed by a red bloom of bloody water". Piranha 3D wasn't having any of that. Every scene with fish tearing flesh apart had to be shown in nauseating detail. And thanks to that, the audience is treated to a lovely, 3D shot of Jerry O'Connell's six foot long cock. Twice. Once after it's been torn from his body, but before being devoured; and then again after two piranhas fought over it, one swallowed it, and then coughed it back into the ocean. His character's herpes must be really bad if even flesh-eating fish won't chow down on his wiener.

Piranha 3D has the same issues that JAWS 3D had. Both seemed to think that if something's in 3D no one will notice horribly executed, (not-so-)special effects. Have you seen JAWS 3D? Do you remember the scene at the beginning where the fish is swimming along and suddenly "something" comes along and separates its head from its body? Then the head just floats there, unrealistically spinning back and forth until its deadened eyes stare you down and devour your soul. There's also the scene where JAWS busts through the big window underwater and you can still see the intact window behind all the fake flying glass. Ah, horror movie special effects. It's quite clear that the effects budget for P3D went into explosions and half-dead bodies. The fish aren't so badly done, but you can see that the gore was the big draw.

Something's still bugging me: when Richard Dreyfuss' corpse is supposedly in the bellies of a bunch of prehistoric demon-fish, his hand emerges above the surface (as a scare tactic) and the fingers wiggle (I can't think of a better way to describe it -- other than it looks like they're beckoning a hooker to the car through the six inches between the window and the door, I guess). I'm not even bothered by the (lack of) physics. What gets me is that the way the hand moves reminds me of the mechanical hand Jay Segel's character has in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (awesome movie!).

Another thing: they left it open for a sequel, so if Piranha 3D didn't satisfy your need for a cheesy, gory, comedy-horror about carnivorous fish, wait about a year. They'll be back.

I could go on for hours about the ridiculousness of Piranha 3D, but I've said enough. The film's not so bad, but be ready for a lot of gore. Very disgusting and over-the-top gore.

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