In searching for a good image from “Piranha” to use a visual for this review, I ran into a problem. I wanted to get a picture that captured the true essence of the movie. That appeared in two forms: incredibly gory and incredibly gratuitous, both being 100% R-rated. When you search for “Piranha”, you get naked or bikini clad chicks, or pieces of said chicks, or said chicks with large bites taken out of them. I began to think this was going to be an issue, but then it hit me: Nothing about this movie was intended to be appropriate, tasteful or safe for work. And there was my theme.
This could be the easiest review ever. Here it is as quickly as I can do:
Like t*ts? Like gore? Like cheesy lines and Jerry O’Connell? Miss Spring Break this year? Watch Piranha.
Alas, as with most movies, there is so much more to talk about. While “Piranha” did lack any seriousness and was exactly the movie I had been wanting to watch for months, it is still a movie and is worth discussing in depth. But seriously, if that half-a$$ed review above tickles your fancy, turn off your computer and go to the video store.
“Piranha” is the kind of movie that makes you stop and wonder about screenwriters. Not in the “How the hell are these guys getting paid for this crap?” way that you may think I’m talking about, but the “Are these guys that good that they intelligently wrote the most B-movie in recent history?”. The characters are clichéd and stereotypical, but in a way that really drives the story. Stereotypes are very useful in giving the audience an instant knowledge of a character. for example, Derrick, Jerry O’Connell’s character, is the director of a “Girl’s Gone Wild” style show. I don’t need to tell you anything more, and you know exactly how he will act in any situation he is thrown in to. Steven McQueen’s (not the same one) character starts as the typical loser high school kid trying to experience Spring Break, but, surprise, actually matures and grows throughout the movie. We really like this guy! Now, in terms of actual story, we get a few timeless concepts which can be expected. McQueen’s story revolves around breaking away from his babysitting role, partying, and winning the heart of the girl of his dreams. Elisabeth Shue, who plays Jake’s mom, gets to handle both the fact that she is the sheriff of a town overrun by college kids and now piranhas, and also that of a mother who must protect her kids from both aforementioned plagues. The plot, with an earthquake opening a hole to an “underwater lake”, is presented in such a goofy way that you instantly know this flick isn’t serious. So haters go on and hate. The mix of decent storylines with good character development and cheesy plot points for the sake of being cheesy actually lends itself to a good script.
The acting in “Piranha” is actually very good, given what it is. While the main characters are lesser known players, Steven McQueen and love interest Jessica Szohr being primarily television actors up to this point, they deliver their parts cleanly and consistently. The big boys(and girls), Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames and Elisabeth Shue, hold their own, but let the two youngsters really steal the show. All three give quality performances, and while Rhames is downcast and O’Connell need only act like a jerk, the characters portrayed are spot on. Other notables in the cast include Eli Roth (billed as “Wet T-Shirt Host” above the two leads), Richard Dreyfuss (the first victim), Christopher Lloyd (obviously playing a slightly off his rocker scientist) and Adam Scott, who I am surprised has not gotten a major leading role yet. There are also hotties Kelly Brook and Riley Steele, but I feel their discussion is better suited for the “visual treats” section… All in all, the cast really makes the story. Without the mix of big names to draw people in and solid actors to keep you there, this movie could have been a major flop.
While I’ve given a lot of time here to storylines, like I always do, what really made this flick stand out were the visuals. I’m talking t*ts and gore and t*ts and hot chicks and bikinis and gore and gore and gore… I think I must have bought the unrated version because I am positive that level of… whatever you want to call it is not allowed in theatrically released movies. I always used to love to flaunt the little known fact that “Slither”, while not a very gory movie, had the highest kill count of any genre flick. Somewhere in the upper 100’s, maybe 200’s. Now I’m not the kind of guy that counts stuff like that, but I’ll be damned if Piranha didn’t just take that title. I’ve never seen such bloody water, so many dead bodies, so much utter carnage on film. And this stuff isn’t just fish biting people either, we get some creativity from Alexandre Aja. You really have to see it to appreciate it, but my favorite is when two guys are carrying a girl out of the lake by her hands and feet and she just falls apart at the midsection. Sick, yes, but downright extreme. Oh, and there’s also about as many boobs as a Panama City Spring Break, so there’s that for ya.
What I have not done yet is say anything bad about “Piranha”. That is because this thing has gotten enough bad press and I want people to give it a chance. If you are looking for a serious movie, something scary or something to get your mind working, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. But you should have already guessed that. However, if you want to laugh your butt off and have a grand old time and turn off your brain for two hours, I can’t think of a better movie. There was some real thought put into this one, the way it was finely crafted to appeal to the male brain but also employ an engaging story while not boring anyone. Hey, somebody’s gotta stick up for the underdog.