“No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”
Social critic/journalist H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
When many critics, including me, review a movie they take into consideration how well it accomplishes what it sets out to do. If it’s a B horror-flick, is it a real fright-fest? Do you cringe? Do you shriek? If the answer is yes – then it accomplishes what it’s meant to do, like “Snakes on a Plane.”
Every year, the population of the tiny, mythical Arizona town of Lake Victoria explodes from 5,000 to 50,000 for the bacchanal known as Spring Break. But, this year, there’s something more to worry about than vandalism and drunken teenagers. A sudden underwater earthquake sets free thousands of prehistoric flesh-eating piranhas that devour an inebriated fisherman (Richard Dreyfuss, wearing his rumpled “Jaws” costume and singing “Show Me the Way to Go Home”) who gets sucked into a whirlpool. Meanwhile, sleazy, depraved, Joe Francis-like “Girls Gone Wild” video chronicler, Derrick Jones
(Jerry O’Connell), is egging on rowdy, obnoxious, bikini-clad babes, earning the stern disapproval of Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue), particularly when he engages her teenage son, Jake (Steven R. McQueen, grandson of the famed Steve), as a location scout to guide his yacht and totes along Jake’s crush, Kelly (“Gossip Girl” Jessica Szohr).
Inspired by a 1978 Roger Corman low-budget hit, which was written by John Sayles and directed by Joe Dante as an irreverent parody of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” this screenplay was written by Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg (“Sorority Row”) and directed by Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes,” “High Tension”). Clumsily converted into 3-D, it’s chock full o’carnage and distracting digital deceits, including topless-and-bottomless full-frontal torsos. Christopher Lloyd does a cleverly crazed cameo as a marine-life expert assessing piranha risk and Ving Rhames scores as a tough deputy.
Not for the squeamish or faint-hearted, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Piranha 3-D” is a scary, sicko 6, spewing gallons-upon-gallons of R-rated graphic bloody gore. Not surprisingly, a succulent sequel is already in the works.