Piranha 3D isn't unwatchable by any means. It's certainly not a film of any sort of quality or one that would make anyone's top ten list (not even Tarantino's). But it's entertaining like a good movie is supposed to be and that's because the filmmakers did an excellent job delivering exactly what their audience wanted from the movie: breasts blood bikinis and snarly piranhas in 3D. It's evident they realized it was their job to create a film that would satiate viewers rather than create one with any kind of allegorical significance and because they recognized this difference (and weren't ashamed of it) I feel comfortable arguing that this is actually a great movie.
Based on the 1978 movie by Joe Dante Piranha 3D stars Elizabeth Shue as the sheriff who's in charge of making sure the spring breakers who've recently inhabited Lake Victoria abide by the laws and do the fictitious thing of having fun while being safe. She becomes concerned when a fisherman goes missing and then stumbles upon his body only to see that he has been badly mangled by some sort of lake creature. The next day while she's taking some seismologist divers to a special location she's shocked when both divers are killed by piranhas and when she brings one of the fish to an old marine biologist (played by Christopher Lloyd) he tells her that the species she's encountered is prehistoric and thought to be extinct. And that's exactly when the piranhas start eating girls right out of their innertubes.
In addition to what is typically found in the special features section of a Blu-ray we were given a profile of director Alexandre Aja who described his goal of creating a "guilty pleasure" movie of the 80s that combined excessive nudity and gore to almost make it comedic. He also explained how much he enjoys making movies where the viewers question what they would do if they were in the same situation as the characters. Josh Stolberg and Jeff Goldfinger's screenplay was praised too as they were the ones responsible for designing the movie as a throwback to the horror films where breasts were everywhere and a few of the kills were campy. Director and producers alike were keen on the concept of making a movie that revolved around the concept of spring break under attack and this proves to be an important special feature to check out because it's proof that the movie is self-aware and doesn't take itself too seriously.
But production enthusiasts aren't the only ones who will be satisfied with the special features. For the people more interested in the films visuals (shall we say) we learned about what went into casting the characters choosing a location that would be suitable for extreme aquatic action sequences and how filming in 3D impacted the production. They'll also be quite taken with feature that has all the footage of the spring breakers jumping on trampolines and participating in wet t-shirt contests and motor boating each other and has the inside scoop on how they shot the scene where Danni and Crystal are swimming under water naked together. All in all it'd be crazy to say it wasn't worth a peek.
Those who’ve watched MTV’s Spring Break and wished for its undulating crew of debauched partiers to be devoured wholesale or who’ve witnessed Girls Gone Wild’s shameless exploitation of drunken college girls and longed for its smarmy founder Joe Francis to receive a grisly dose of karmic justice or who’ve seen any of Eli Roth’s films and hoped for the “torture-porn” impresario to receive a dose of his own vile medicine will find their catharsis in Piranha 3D. What they will not find is much in the way of a plot quality acting or anything remotely resembling restraint. But you weren’t really expecting that in a film about killer fish were you?
In Piranha 3D director Alexandre Aja's (High Tension The Hills Have Eyes remake) overriding concern is with his relentless onslaught of T&E — tits and entrails. He often groups them together in the same scene — presumably for efficiency’s sake — as when a busty topless parasailor (an IMDB search reveals her to be a porn star named Gianna Michaels) is bisected during a brief dip below the water’s surface or when a similarly-endowed party girl is separated from her bikini top — and then much of her upper torso — by a stray cable from a tumbling platform. Indeed Piranha DDD might be a more suitable title for the film given Aja’s Russ Meyer-meets-Faces of Death sensibility.
Given the ridiculous subject matter Aja has little choice but to wholeheartedly embrace the camp of it all and Piranha 3D is nothing less than the Avatar of B movie schlockfests. In addition to its array of grotesquely violent set pieces the film boasts a gleefully wicked sense of humor the primary vessel of which is Jerry O’Connell who plays internet sleaze merchant Derrick Jones an obvious stand-in for the aforementioned Francis. In search of fresh meat for his co-ed porn site he combs the fictional Arizona resort town of Lake Victoria at the height of spring break for new prey. Unbeknownst to him his prospective talent pool is about to be decimated by a swarm of piranhas recently freed from their undersea prison by a timely earthquake — this despite the heroic efforts of the town’s pair of hardy but laughably impotent sheriffs (Elisabeth Shue and Ving Rhames).
These razor-toothed piranhas may seem like mindless predators but they are not without their share of admirable traits. Before beginning their feeding frenzy for example they’re considerate enough to allow the lake’s doomed revelers one last hedonistic hurrah the highlight of which is an extended sequence in which Jones’ two most prized fillies played by softcore titans Kelly Brook and Riley Steele frolic naked underwater to the tune of “The Flower Duet” from Delibes’ Lakme. (“They’re like fish with boobies!” their director shouts ecstatically.) The fish clearly possess a taste for the ironic and perhaps a bit of a feminist streak as well as we witness when O'Connell's character is literally emasculated during an ill-timed dive. (Fittingly he gurgles “Wet t-shirt” as his final blood-drenched words.) As his severed manhood sinks toward the bottom a piranha arrives and snaps it up but it doesn’t quite agree with the creature and the penis is quickly burped up in disgust. Even the fish can’t stomach him it seems.
If only Chuck (Connor Price) had complied with the rules of Spin the Bottle in 1985—well there’d apparently be no movie. The goth girl he refuses to kiss as a youngster puts a hex on him thereby establishing Good Luck Chuck’s tenuous storyline: Every girl he ever sleeps with shall find her true love immediately following their one-nighter. Cut to present day which sure enough finds a grown-up Chuck (Dane Cook) scoring in the sack but not in the romance department. It doesn’t take long for word of his cupid-like superpower to spread like wildfire in the female community sending lovelorn women lining up for the chance to find true love via sex with Chuck. Chuck’s childhood friend Stu (Dan Fogler) thinks he’d be crazy not to capitalize on such an opportunity and after brief reluctance Chuck agrees. Then he meets and falls head-over-heels for Cam (Jessica Alba) a clumsy beauty who initially rejects Chuck’s advances because of his reputation. Before long though they’re a couple and it dawns on Chuck that she may be with him for the same reason as his past quickies. So he delays sex with Cam to try and reverse the curse for fear of losing her to the next guy she meets if he beds her. Chemistry always the unsung hero of romantic comedies is non-existent between Good Luck Chuck’s odd couple that is Jessica Alba and Dane Cook. For Alba not a single of her scenes would be laughable if not for the constant pratfalls to which her character is prone. She’s capable of playing cute in her few tender moments and God knows she excels at being hot—her sideboob scene will surely become the most freeze-framed scene in history when the DVD is released—but she lacks the natural goofiness of Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary and the screen presence of Jennifer Aniston in Along Came Polly (a movie Chuck’s screenwriter clearly loved). Cook with his highly split fan base is already at somewhat of a career crossroads: Nobody wants to see him play it straight but nobody wants to see a movie full of his standup shtick either. He does both as Chuck and it’s not totally unsuccessful but it’s as culpable as Alba’s ineffectiveness for their lack of chemistry. Fogler (Balls of Fury) meanwhile as the token sidekick/wingman garners the most laughs for the profanity he spews looking and sounding like a grown-up Jonah Hill. It’s that time of year. Seemingly every single week there is at least one comedy thrown our way that falls short for its concessions namely a lack of originality. This week it’s Chuck which may at least be the best of the worst so to speak. That’s about as high as the praise goes however. The movie’s foundation is a somewhat imaginative idea that predictably falters when stretched to a feature-length story by writer Josh Stolberg. It starts off on a downright creepy note with an opening scene that truly comes close to kiddie porn. From then on rookie director/longtime editor Mark Helfrich mixes in a few highs with many lows. His highs come in the form of unapologetic raunchiness that will please both comedy fans and young male sneakers-in; the lows consist of Alba’s pratfalls ad nauseam a little toilet humor and one excessive obesity gag so distasteful that it makes Norbit look like a public service announcement. The fact people will howl with laughter is the real shame. In the end Helfrich turns in the unevenness we’ve come to expect from comedies of this sort while the writers take the story precisely where we’ve come to expect. That said we’ve certainly seen worse this year.
Top Story: Hawaiians Keep Local on Idol
If there is one thing TV viewers have learned from the third installment of Fox's American Idol it's that the best singers don't always necessarily win, and judge Simon Cowell was right when he said Hawaiian native Jasmine Trias owed her home state a lot of thank you letters. Instead of getting the boot for her mediocre performance this week, Trias got a boost from the Aloha State. A Verizon spokesman told The Associated Press Thursday of the 29 states in the phone company's local territory, only New York and California logged more calls on its network than Hawaii after the show aired. The AP noted Hawaiian viewers also benefit from a less-crowded calling period to cast votes since the state is six hours behind the East Coast. To sweeten the pot, many in Hawaii are campaigning for Trias, including, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a local newspaper, a radio hosts and a TV news anchor at KHON, who signed off with a reminder to vote for Trias. In the show's finale, which airs May 25-26, Trias, Fantasia Barrino or Diana DeGarmo will be the crowned American Idol and win a coveted record contract.
Rupert Gets $1 Million Survivor Consolation Prize
Rupert Boneham, the bearded giant from Indianapolis, won the $1 million consolation prize during CBS' special edition of Survivor All-Stars Thursday night, which host Jeff Probst jokingly referred to as America's Tribal Council. During the Sunday night finale, CBS had called on fans to vote one of the losing 17 contestants of Survivor All-Stars a second million-dollar prize. Following winner Boneham in the votes were Tom Buchanan, Colby Donaldson and "Boston Rob" Mariano-who lost the show's initial $1 million prize to his fiancée, Amber Brkich. And get ready for more Survivor love-fest: Mariano and Brkich, who became engaged during Sunday's live finale, said a network had approached them about televising their wedding.
Frasier Crane Has Left the Building
The multiple Emmy-winning NBC comedy Frasier ended it 11-year run Thursday night with its trademark antics: Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and wife Daphne (Jane Leeves) welcomed their first child, while Martin (John Mahoney) got hitched to Ronee (Wendie Malick). Series star Frasier, Kelsey Grammer, made the decision to leave Seattle and accept a new job hosting a TV show in San Francisco. But the surprise came during final scene, which showed Frasier in a plane touching down with the pilot announcing, "Welcome to Chicago"--the city where his potential soul mate Charlotte (Laura Linney) had just moved. The touching farewell will surely fuel rumors of a possible spin-off in the Windy City.
Jackson Prosecutors Want Gag Order Upheld
Santa Barbara County prosecutors submitted a letter to the state Supreme Court Thursday asking that a gag in the Michael Jackson child molestation case be upheld in order in order to maintain an untainted jury pool. The letter comes in response to a request from news organizations to lift the gag order, which bars anyone connected to the case from talking about it. Attorney Theodore Boutrous, who represents the news organizations, said in an interview the prosecution's attack on the news media access was unusual. "The notion that public information should be limited in cases where public interest is the highest offends First Amendment values," Boutrous said. The Supreme Court has asked both sides to submit arguments by Friday.
Kelly Rowlands Engaged to Dallas Cowboy
Columbia Records announced Friday that Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland is engaged to Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams. Williams proposed in New York on Monday in a room filled with friends--including fellow Destiny's Child singer Beyoncé Knowles, AP reports. Rowland and Williams, both 23, haven't set a date for the wedding. They have been dating for about six months. Rowland, who won a Grammy last year for collaborating with Nelly on the hit single "Dilemma" from her solo albumSimply Deep, is due back in the studio with Destiny's Child next month to record a new album.
Weinstein To Publish Memoirs
Publisher HarperCollins announced Thursday that Miramax film studio co-founder Harvey Weinstein is writing a memoir. Weinstein, known for his feisty temper and producing critically acclaimed films, will tell the history of how he and his brother Bob grew up in a "lower-middle class" household in Queens, New York, and founded the studio named after their parents, Miriam and Max, Reuters reports. "This book offers a great opportunity to share many of the lessons I've learned about the business world and the entertainment industry over the past 25 years," Weinstein said in a news release. The book is due out in 2006.
Osmonds Beef Up Security at Mother's Funeral
The Osmond family has upped security for Olive Osmond's funeral after being informed of rumors of a $30,000 bounty for a photograph of the family matriarch in her coffin. According to the AP, fans contacted the Osmond Brothers to let them know them a Web site had posted a rumor offering money for "a photograph of Mrs. Osmond with the children around the coffin mourning, but they want her in the coffin." Osmond family spokesman Ron Clark didn't corroborate the rumor, but said extra security had been added for the Saturday funeral at Provo's Oak Hills Stake Center, a meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Olive Osmond, mother of Donny and Marie Osmond and other members of the Utah entertainment family, died Sunday of complications from a stroke at the age of 79.
Role Call: Bruce Almighty Sequel in Works
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Spyglass are in talks to mount a Bruce Almighty sequel based on the freestanding script The Passion of the Ark from Bobby Florsheim and Josh Stolberg. According to Variety, but the plan is to court Jim Carrey to reprise and to have Tom Shadyac return as director.