Written by Chad Derdowski
Every year, the population in the quiet town of Lake Victoria explodes in a drunken orgy of sex and sunscreen known as Spring Break. This year is special though, as an underwater tremor unleashes a terror far more horrifying than roofie-carrying frat boys or obnoxious bimbos brandishing brand new tramp stamps: scores of prehistoric man-eating piranha. As you might expect with such a film, a motley crew of friends and strangers must band together in a desperate attempt to save the town from becoming dinner for these flesh-eating denizens of the deep.
Steven R. McQueen plays… oh look, I’ll level with you here: I can’t even remember the kid’s name. Does it matter? You’re not going to watch this movie because you care about the characters, nor are you looking for a plot. It’s all about blood and guts and if you’re lucky, boobs. Well guess what? You’re in luck, because Piranha harkens back to the exploitation films of yesteryear and just so happens to be one of the bloodiest breastravaganzas I’ve seen in a long time. Like the 1978 film of the same name upon which it was based, Piranha isn’t as much a horror film as it is a comedy. It’s something of a spoof on Jaws and borrows liberally from the plot. A vacation town depends on the income that a fair-weather holiday brings, a well-meaning cop with a couple of kids and an underwater-specialist of some sort all show up. Hell, Richard Dreyfuss even shows up in a cameo! Of course, the similarities pretty much end there.
So back to the story: an awkward teenager (McQueen) stumbles upon the chance of a lifetime when a rather lively pornographer (Jerry O’Connell) asks him to give a guided tour of Lake Victoria, where he’ll be filming a Girls Gone Wild-esque adventure. So the kid (his name is Jake – just looked it up on Wikipedia) blows off his babysitting chores and is joined by the girl he has a crush on (Jessica Szohr) for a day of sun, alcohol and naked ladies. Next thing you know, trouble arises, piranhas attack and Jake has to call on his mother, who happens to be the local sheriff, for help. Unfortunately, she’s busy trying to convince a bunch of drunken kids to get out of the water before they’re killed by the piranha who have given the film its name. Oh, did I mention his mother is played by ’80s hottie Elisabeth Shue, who has aged like a fine wine? A very fine wine indeed. Somehow, Shue manages to bring some level of respectability to the film, if such a thing can be done.
So here’s the deal: I’d have a really hard time trying to convince you that Piranha is a good film, but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t love it. It’s certainly not fair to compare this movie to a wretchedly obscene pile of steaming dog turds, yet I can’t deny that it does bear a striking resemblance to feces. The thing is, it’s not like Piranha doesn’t know what it is and what you want out of it. It’s horrifyingly disgusting, but it’s done in such an over-the-top fashion that even though you might be cringing throughout, you’re laughing at the same time. I don’t know if it’s possible to overstate or exaggerate just how much blood and guts are in on display in this film. None of it is the slightest bit realistic. For that matter, neither is the acting. It’s terrible! The whole film is a beautiful, terrible mess, and dammit, I loved every single second of it.
The only drawback, in my estimation, was that I felt a little cheated by the fact that the film was obviously intended to be seen in 3D but the copy I got for review was regular old 2D, probably because I don’t have a 3D television. Anyway, it was glaringly obvious whenever a scene was intended to be rendered in three dimensions and I’ll admit that not viewing it in the required fashion took away a bit of the enjoyment. Jumping fish, severed body parts and nude, nubile nymphs cavorting in an undersea dance… and all of it in crappy regular 2D, taunting me for an hour and 28 minutes. Piranha is exactly the reason that 3D was invented and should definitely be viewed in this way, preferably with the intoxicant of your choice. It’s not worth the price of a 3D TV by any means, but if you have some friends with one, there are worse ways to spend a Friday night. Piranha isn’t going to win any awards but it’s a damn good time.
The DVD also includes a bunch of behind-the-scenes documentaries, most of which involve the writers and director ranting and raving about how much they love old horror movies that feature lots of gore and naked women, as if we didn’t already know that.