At The Picture Show
Six degrees of separation
The road between an actual movie and 'Piranha 3DD' is long, treacherous, and better left
Director: John Gulager
Screenplay: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Joel Soisson
Starring: Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd
Rated R / 1 hour, 23 minutes
Now playing in limited release and VOD
Zero stars (out of four)
Rarely have I seen a more disingenuous movie than Piranha 3DD. This is someone's bad
impression of a theoretical idea of a sequel to someone else's remake of a parody of a subgenre
that in itself was a parody of another subgenre. There are so many layers of irony and cynicism
between this movie and its predecessors that it can't help but collapse upon itself. Piranha 3DD
is a joke of a joke of a joke of a joke. It's like cinematic inbreeding.
The result, after all those layers, is that there's not much of a movie left at all. Literally. This
thing is 83 minutes long - and I swear, no less than 13 minutes of that is closing credits and
outtakes. That's 15.6 percent. The filmmakers know they don't have a movie, but they need to
pretend they do by extending the runtime as much as possible.
Well, we're not biting. (Piranha joke!) (Because they bite.) Strip away the filler and what
remains is a 70-minute void with no story, no angle, no idea, no joke and no purpose. College
kids stuck in a love triangle discover a pack of piranha has invaded their town on the eve of the
grand re-opening of the water park that is illegally funneling water from an underground lake.
The piranha arrive, attack, and then the movie ends. I swear to you, I did not leave anything out.
You know you're scraping the bottom of the creativity barrel when you use David Hasselhoff as
your film's ironic centerpiece. When was the last time anyone thought Hasselhoff's inexplicable
pop-culture status was still funny? That kind of ironic stature has a pretty brief shelf life anyway,
and his expired long ago. After that it just becomes pathetic. And not the kind of pathetic that
allows one to redeem oneself by being self-deprecating about the whole thing, but the kind of
pathetic that prevents one from realizing the jig is up.
Worst of all, the film doesn't even find a remotely clever way to use whatever cachet he may
have left, instead delivering only the most painfully obvious jokes. Like having him play
lifeguard in his famous red swim trunks and, yes, run in slow motion to the theme song from
Baywatch. You could not come up with a less original joke if you dedicated the rest of your life
When the movie's fictional Hasselhoff arrives at the water
park for his big moment, he utters to himself, "Welcome to rock bottom." Well, he's wrong.
Making a public appearance at a water park is not celebrity rock bottom. Making a movie about
yourself making a public appearance at a water park, five years after that idea would have been
funny or relevant - that's rock bottom. Unless there's a hidden bottom underneath that I'm not
yet aware of - some crevice you'd have to drill through the bottom of a lake bed to find. Rest
assured, if it exists, the people responsible for Piranha 3DD will find it.
Oh, and Gary Busey shows up at the beginning so that we can watch him get eaten alive. Gary
Busey! Get it?! The filmmakers want you to. They know that Gary Busey is ironically funny
somehow, so they put him in their movie and hope that somebody laughs because . . . ya know,
it's Gary Busey! And he's crazy! And this is a crazy B-movie that is soooo self-conscious!
Look! Look how self-conscious and ironic we are! We randomly put Gary Busey in our hilarious
I'm half-surprised Charlie Sheen didn't show up to beat up some piranha and make some crack
about "winning." As backwards and un-clever as the Piranha 3DD director and writers are,
they're probably kicking themselves for not thinking of that.
And poor Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd. They find themselves stuck here, reprising their
roles from Piranha 3D - Lloyd as the piranha expert who gets to show up for one scene of
exposition, and Rhames as the now-legless former deputy sheriff, who gets to show up to
provide the film with a prosthetic leg machine gun (an uninspired steal from Robert Rodriguez's
Planet Terror) and nothing else.
Lest anyone think I'm simply writing this off as camp trash, or am incapable of enjoying it as
such, I feel a distinction needs to be made between last year's predecessor, Piranha 3D, and this
sequel. I hold some admiration for the former, which at least was an earnest attempt at cheesy,
winking B-grade horror, with a little bit of genuine wit to boot. Piranha 3DD attempts to double
down in every respect, but doesn't land a single joke, a single scene or a single performance. It is
endlessly dull precisely because its efforts to be campy are so ham-handed and desperate. Even
the breasts are boring. Friends, this is not a sentiment I express lightly.
This movie is like the douche you knew in college who wore that ironic T-shirt but had no
comprehension of what the ironic statement even was, or that he was unwittingly the butt of it,
but nevertheless insisted on pointing out how hilariously ironic the shirt was. Piranha 3DD is
that guy. Its entire existence is built around some ambiguous concept of irony that it understands
only to the point of wearing it as a cheap affectation.
Read more by Chris Bellamy