Piranha 3DD wasn’t screened for critics, and a flood wiped out the showing I was slated to attend at the only theater featuring it in New York City. After the 45-minute round-trip subway ride for nothing, I returned to my apartment, sat down to order the movie on video on demand and had one of those brief moments of existential panic that befalls every film critic now and again: Is spending a half-day or more trying to see Piranha 3DD really what I should be doing with my life?
Fortunately, I guess, I sucked it up, hit “buy,” and sat through the 71-minute feature, which is padded out to 81 thanks to 10 minutes of outtakes and David Hasselhoff jokes over the closing credits. Full disclosure: I don’t have a 3-D TV, so I can’t comment on what it’s like to see Katrina Bowden’s projectile vomit propelling toward you from a big screen. If you’re looking for an in-depth dissection of Piranha 3DD’s third-dimensional tomfoolery, you’ll have to go elsewhere.
What can be authoritatively stated here, though, is that the sequel to the remake of the Roger Corman cult classic offers everything you’d expect from a flick called Piranha 3DD, but it mostly forgets the fun. While Piranha 3D delivered the campy antics with an appropriately heightened, goofball tone, this sequel puts such little effort into the same basic se-tup that it’s barely even a movie.
There’s one genuinely clever moment here: Hasselhoff, playing a version of David Hasselhoff hired as a celebrity lifeguard for opening day at an Arizona water park, steps toward the front entrance and mutters, “This is what rock bottom feels like,” or something of that ilk. Given where the Hoff’s been over his career, these are strong words. Yet the movie is far from rock bottom for Hasselhoff, who is the good-natured saving grace here, engaging in gleeful self-mockery. For the most part, the picture’s as dead in the water as its many piranha victims when Hoff’s not around, only perking up when Christopher Lloyd and Ving Rhames turn up in cameos, the latter with machine gun legs.
The story also features David Koechner playing the Koechner archetype, a sleazy horndog impresario named Chet, who will stop at nothing to open his Big Wet water park. It’s opening on time, damn it, despite stepdaughter Maddy’s (Danielle Panabaker) warnings that vicious, prehistoric piranhas are going to find their way through the plumbing into the park, for convoluted reasons best unexplained here.
Slow-mo, bouncing boobs, vicious bloody decapitations, skinny-dipping teens being swarmed by hungry fish; Piranha 3DD has it all and it’s hopelessly boring, without an iota over the full-fledged, over-the-top craziness of the previous film. When a piranha leaps out of a character’s vagina and bites another character’s, um, man parts and the best emotion it inspires is a casual shrug, you know things aren’t going well.
The Upside: Ving Rhames. Christopher Lloyd. And, especially, David Hasselhoff.
The Downside: Every other actor is terrible and the movie just goes through the motions for 71 minutes.
On the Side: Our Cole Abaius astutely considers the ramifications of the movie’s day-and-date release here. Read his article. It’s more interesting than the movie.