Piranha 3D

Boys like boobs
★★★
☆☆
Released: 
2010
Director: 
Alexandre Aja
Starring: 
Steven R. McQueen, Elisabeth Shue, Jessica Szohr, Jerry O’Connell, Adam Scott
The Setup: 
Mesolithic piranhas escape into Arizona lake while spring break is going on.
Discussion: 

So after a long rainy weekend spent largely in my apartment, I knew I could NOT just go straight home after work. And I wanted to see this, but the only theater showing it at a decent showtime was the Empire 25, in Times Square. The problem? They had just been in the news for having BEDBUGS!

So after many internal arguments [ANY theater might have them, and at least I KNOW this one had been fumigated a week prior] I decided to go. Outside, I misread a poster for TV show The Big Bang Theory as Bed Bug Theory. . Then I see a trailer for some Renee Zelleweger horror film in which, at one point, a guy turns around and has flies all over his back. Then I see a trailer for a new Wes Craven movie in which the main character is named BUG. So obviously I sat through the whole movie in my seat--after careful inspection--magnifying every slight itch into my impending total infestation

Finally the movie starts. We are at Lake Victoria in Arizona, which we learn is a "mesolithic dig site." Richard Dreyfuss is out fishing in a rowboat, accompanied by several Jaws references: His character is named Matt, he's wearing the same outfit, and he's singing "Show Me the Way to Go Home." Then there's an earthquake and a chasm opens up in the bottom of the lake, releasing the titular fish, who all come up and eat Dreyfuss. If you're like me, you start to wonder what these mesolithic fish have been EATING all this time, if they've been trapped underground. Then: Title!

So it's spring break. Scathes of idiot teens head to this lake, where boys want little more to drink and stare at boobs, and women want little more to drink and show their boobs. Elizabeth Shue is the sheriff in town, and she has a teenage son in Jake. He is supposed to babysit his young sister and brother the next day, while all his friends are out gaping at the boobs. But he ends up promising Jerry O'Connell as hyped-up, smug asshole Derek that he'll take him out and show him the secret best spots on the lake. Derek is a clear analogue to the Girls Gone Wild guy, whoever he is, as he's always walking around with a video camera and is the proprietor of Wild Wild Girls. Jake pays his little brother and sister to stay home and babysit themselves, making them promise not to go on the water, but of course they go to the little island across the way and soon gets stranded.

Things continue. It is beginning to become apparent that this movie is all about being pure fun--great! Unfortunately its idea of fun is primitive and frankly oral stage, so it's all about boobs, boobs, boobs. So if you like boobs, you will definitely get boobs, in 3D and in many varying situations. Anyway, Jake's not-girlfriend Kelly, who he likes, has come along on the boat with him, Derek, and two other models. Then Shue has some scientists out to check out the rift, and they soon discover that there are big nasty fish down there. Then they take then to Christopher Lloyd, who instantly identifies them as mesolithic piranha. BUT there's a little bonus: They tell us what those piranhas have been eating all these [millions of] years! Turns out they’ve been surviving through CANNIBALISM. They eat each other! Okay, sure it’s a dumb explanation, but it is SOME explanation, and I respect them for giving it to us. If you read this site regularly at all, you know how hung up I can get on these things.

SPOILERS > > >
Okay, so now that we know what the beasties are, we can start having some CARNAGE. Shue and her trusty second-in-command Ving Rhames go over to where all the spring breakers are, doing such stuff as having wet T shirt contests [Hostel director Eli Roth is the contest judge], which requires us, once more, to look at boobs! Shue is yelling to get out of the water, but the hard-partying kids are playing their loud club music, and don’t hear! Then the piranhas, which, despite having eaten nothing but each other for the past few million years, have been in NO hurry to snack on the numerous nubile bodies, suddenly turn and attack en masse! This is kind of fun, as instead of having a shark attack one person, you have an entire group of people attacked at once, and basically this massive bloodbath. Here is where you start to be aware that this movie is going to traffic in SERIOUS gore, which comes off as shocking, especially given how un-gory horror films have become in the past few years. At first it’s kind of fun, but then, once you combine it with the boobs, you start to feel like maybe you don’t want people seeing you come out of the theater. Some of the moments that shocked me were when we see two guys carrying a woman out of the water… and then the woman falls into two pieces. One woman gets her hair tangled in a propeller, and when the propeller starts again, all the skin gets suddenly ripped off her skull. Then we get the now-familiar thing of a woman split in two by a whipping wire, who holds together for a while, before he top half slides off. In this case, the wire just HAPPENS to catch her right between her nude breasts, and when her top half slides into the water, we see the fish start to eat her breast. Yeah, THAT’S the level this movie is operating at. Like I said, oral stage.

Meanwhile Shue and others are idiotically shooting at the water with guns, even with spring breakers in their line of fire. The Ving Rhames does something so monumentally stupid… he grabs an outboard motor and holds it in his hands as he stands in the water, chopping fish up with it. Of course, other fish are eating his legs, and he soon dies. Now, maybe some people—people whom I might have some judgments to make about—might think this is an awesome last stand, but to me it is just so dumb, I wonder if Rhames should sue for discrimination. I mean, does the black guy HAVE to do the absolute stupidest thing in the entire movie?

Meanwhile, Jake has rescued his two younger siblings, and Derek is getting drunk and doing coke and getting ever-more belligerent. There’s been this whole thing we’ve skipped over where the two models have skinny-dipped, showing us more boobs, and then Jake having to protect the virtue of Kelly from the evil wiles of the horny Derek. Until Kelly barfs in 3-D, right on the camera. Anyway, Derek seizes control of the boat and gets then stuck on some rocks, shattering the glass bottom of the boat, starting it sinking. Shue must come to the rescue, and things pretty much go as expected. And, as you’d expect, things don’t end so well for Derek, but he survives an initial attack to inform us that his penis is gone. Then we do indeed see his penis [no artful disguise, YOU ARE LOOKING AT A PENIS] as one fish chomps it, then two fight over it, then one of them, in apparent editorial comment, spits it out. Then we look at half-chewed penis for a moment. Yup.
< < < SPOILERS END

I’m all for stupid, fun movies. I’m all for movies that don’t take themselves too seriously. But what this movie puts one in mind of is the wholesale failure of the US educational system. What I’m saying is, do our dumb fun movies have to be THIS dumb? I want to live in a country where our dumb fun is at an eighth-grade level, not a second-grade level. And by the time we’re looking at a corpses’ boobs, or getting off on fish eating girl’s boobs, I have to bow out. I don’t mind boobs and gore, fine, but come on guys, there is more to life. Ask your parents if you are stumped for what. One imagines this movie being aimed at the level of Beavis and Butthead. It’s pretty bad when your movie is so dumb it makes Michael Bay look like Jean Renoir.

That said, it’s interesting the movie itself focuses on Derek, based on the Girls Gone Wild guy, who is wholly obsessed with breasts—then casts him as the villain. So you have this movie that is obsessed with breasts constantly heaping shame on this character that is obsessed with breasts. Not only that, but our teen hero needs to protect his girlfriend’s virtue FROM the guy who is obsessed with breasts, and keep her from being exploited by him. Who knows, but I suspect it’s a way for the filmmakers to distance themselves from the idea that THEY are lecherous cretins, by casting disdain on the lecherous cretin in this movie. It also just so happens that the chosen profession of the lecherous cretin in question naturally requires the inclusion of… MORE BOOBS! Well what do ya know about that?

What else? It’s nice to see Shue again… I might consider going straight for her… but it bugs me that perhaps she’s being included here as a kind of in-joke, given the jokey nature of the stunt casting of others. Let’s see… did I have anything else to say about this? It’s several shades too dumb… it’s disappointingly lecherous… indicates low US education levels… no, that’s about it. This is kind of a dumb fun time-killer—more so if you are like, SUPER into boobs—and it’s a good time at the movies. It is at the same time the latest milestone on the road to America’s collapse. That’s what I call a two-fer.

Should you watch it: 

Sure, it’s kind of fun. Helps if you are mentally underdeveloped.