Review: John Gulager's 'Piranha 3DD' is All Absurd Trash and No Fun

June 2, 2012

Piranha 3DD Review

There's only so much you can do with the Piranha franchise. It wasn't exactly rocket science to begin with, but 2009's Piranha 3D still ended up a scuzzy but entertaining gorefest. It wasn't so awful you couldn't have a good time with it, and additions like Christopher Lloyd's insane biologist and the opening nod to Jaws were actually noteworthy. The only direction to go from there is even bigger, which is what you might expect from something calling itself Piranha 3DD. Unfortunately, this follow-up doesn't go bigger — at least, not where it counts — and relies on being cheaper and scuzzier to pull off its thrills, none of which work.

This time around, the prehistoric fishes have moved from a lake bustling with half-naked coeds who are just looking for a good time to a water park bustling with half-naked coeds who are just looking for a good time. The owner (David Koechner) of this particular water park, aptly named The Big Wet, has decided to make it a T&A show through-and-through, hiring strippers as the life guards, setting up cameras on the ladders, and a cordoned off "nude bar" area. It's the perfect place for Spring Break promiscuity. You know, if man-eating fish from the nearby water supply haven't found their way into the pipes. Before you can say "Hey, idiot, get out of the pool," teens are getting ripped apart left and right, no one wants to listen to the owner's daughter (Danielle Panabaker), who also happens to be a marine biologist, and David Hasselhoff, playing himself, has already run through three, slo-mo shots. It's pretty much anarchy in here.

But you can't expect much different from director John Gulager and screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. After the three collaborated for the more enjoyable than it deserved to be Feast, they traipsed through the sequel garbage that was Feast II: Sloppy Seconds and Feast III: The Happy Finish. The subtitles on those say it all. There's no denying the three have a definite style when they work together. It's a style consisting of unlikable characters, grotesque imagery usually played for belly laughs, and a notion of not playing by anyone's rules. The rule-bending would be appreciated if those other, two items provided anything close to resembling enjoyable entertainment. They don't.

What we're left with is a mindset that seeing incredibly fake breasts bounce in slow motion is funny, that watching a man hack off his… you know… because a strange creature has latched onto it is thrilling, or that the mere presence of Hasselhoff may lead to a feeling of schadenfreude. You get the feeling they thought they had struck gold when the former "Knight Rider" and "Baywatch" star agreed to play himself here, but when he mutters "You've hit rock bottom" to himself as he arrives at the water park — the actor has been brought in to help kick off the park's grand opening — you wonder if that wasn't a candid moment of self reflection Gulager has captured. Hasselhoff gets more screen time than the fish, which, considering how poorly executed the effects are on the little monsters, ends up being a blessing in disguise.

Rather than harp for 1000 words on the horrible things Piranha 3DD does, it might be simpler to point out the one or two things the film pulls off well. They're really just things Piranha 3D did well that get copied and pasted over here, but beggars can't be choosers. The five minutes Christopher Lloyd spends reprising his wackadoo role as the piranha-infatuated biologist are entertaining enough. Just watching the man play and speak in his familiar, crazed scientist mannerisms provides escapism enough from the rest of a horrid film, even if for such a minuscule amount of time.

Also reprising roles are Ving Rhames, whose Deputy Fallon only lost his legs in the previous film, and Paul Scheer as Andrew, whose death scene in Piranha 3D was fortunately cut and returns here as Fallon's caretaker. No, it doesn't make sense. Just go with it. The two minutes the actors spend trying to get Fallon back in the water is funny but fleeting, particularly from Rhames who makes the character's fear/anger at the water the most genuine aspect to the movie. Once his shotgun legs come out, though, the dime-store effectiveness of the film as a whole kicks back into your attention. Also the less said about Gary Busey's cameo in the film's opening moments the better.

It's not easy to wade in the kiddie pool of positive things Piranha 3DD offers. At least, it doesn't take long to do a lap around it. The ocean of problems that abound in this film takes over and drowns out anything that could have been salvaged. Gulager seems to make sure every frame of his film is loaded with crass nudity, appalling debauchery, and/or David Hasselhoff, so that the trademark look is unquestionably his. It isn't a grotesqueness that hardcore fans of guts and gore can even get behind or be affected by. It all flops out and splatters on the concrete with nary an interesting thud in earshot. It's the kind of film making where you know the people behind it think they're pushing the envelope, but it just makes you go "Really?". At least we can pinpoint a John Gulager film from only a few seconds watching it. The better to avoid them with, which is exactly what should be done in regards to Piranha 3DD.

Jeremy's Rating: 2 out of 10 (Christopher Lloyd deserves a point)

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One of Jeremy's better reviews, but I have to ask... What did you expect from Piranha 3DD?? It's not art. It's crap. It hardly deserves a review.

McWetty on Jun 2, 2012


I expected to have as much fun with it as I did Piranha 3D. I didn't I was bored. :-/

Jeremy Kirk on Jun 2, 2012


What I am surprised at is how the first film scored so decently critically. When I saw the first trailer I said "Well, that will get a 10% on Rottentomatoes" then it came out and held something in the 80's for weeks. So I am surprised that 3DD is scoring as badly, I shall catch it in the dollar theater though. 

jacobcrim on Jun 2, 2012


I couldn't disagree more. You should have known what you were getting into with the people that are involved. The cameos are amazing. Nothing is more funny than the hoff reprising his role from bay watch and I have def seen worse effects. The gore shots were actually pretty good and who would complain about the fake tits.

Dm on Jun 2, 2012


I want to believe you. I loved the first and am excited for this one.

grimjob on Jun 2, 2012


SPOILER ALERT- I had all the same problems w/the movie as written here.  Perhaps the stupidest kill (if they'd done it right, could have been awesome) was Koechner driving at a slow-to-medium speed, almost trundling through a PLASTIC BANNER and that instantly decapitates him. Really? Yep, that'll decapitate you so your head pops off in a massive fountain of blood and gore and flies through the air to land about 15 feet away, officially did a "it pulled me out of the story" moment. I know this is a trashy movie, lowest common denominater.I get it. but come on, at least have the kills be somewhat feasible (Piranha 3D, due to Nicotero.. well, it was all feasable (if you buy into the premise of fresh-water pirhana), nothing looked and/or seem faked. They sold THAT gore ...but not in P3DD. P3DD also makes the first film seem classy.  and I was a HUG fan of ir, 

-Lilly on Jun 2, 2012


I agree 100% with than review, though I did enjoy Hasselhoff's big moment.

Sean Kelly on Jun 2, 2012


No kidding, you knew what the movie was, but you have to rip it anyway.  Its a cheap goofy movie.  Better than any stupid ass Twilight movie.  Not to mention they show jean-luc whatever his name is naked.  That was more than worth it.

JoshJJBGT88 on Jun 2, 2012


Hollywood sucks and always will because of people like all those above me. Because you pay to watch this shit, they keep on cranking it out. Movies just get worse and worse every year and people are more than satisfied with the crap that is handed to them. Demand better movies by not paying to see this crap.

Chuck on Jun 2, 2012


Dude, blaming "Hollywood" is such an over the top statement, you talk like there is some giant agenda that we must fight back?!? This movie will probably go to DVD pretty quick and wont affect a thing.  Many people did enjoy the first  Piranha what you consider crap others might enjoy.  It is true The movie business "Hollywood" is a machine, pushing a quick bang for a buck, but amazing, entertaining, and heart felt movies come out all the time. 75% of you D-bags need anti-depressants!

McWilly on Jun 3, 2012


Even a 2 out of 10 is generous.

Max Renn on Jun 3, 2012


There weren't even any creative kills like the first film. 3DD wasn't fun, wasn't nearly as gory as it should've been, and tried too hard to be funny. I loved the 2010 film, but 3DD was huge disappointment. The first one was one of the most fun movie going experiences of my life and I'm sad about how the sequel turned out 🙁

Jurassic_Max on Jun 3, 2012


I kinda enjoyed this POPCORN flick mainly because i was relaxed in the comfort of my own home because i rented it on Demand at least i saved money at the concession stand and gas.  the opening was a little weak in comparrison to the Hooper from Jaws death scene from the first one.  The effects was good but at least we didn't get syfy graphics.  The gore was toned down in my opinion even with the TEETH moment really unrealistic and thats the scene in the film that i kinda felt out of place well actually it was completely out of place didn't move the movie forward at all.  The flick spent alot of time on characters rather on the fish.  David Hasselholf and Christopher Lloyd was the flicks crowning moments. Nudity is a given but at least in the first one it seemed more appropriate.  The ending was good but hopefully if there is a next installment get better people to make it.  i give it 5 out of 10 despite all the flaws cause its a flick me and my friends would love to watch and talk through the film and still understand whats going on.     

TwoTonNerdMax on Jun 4, 2012


I thought the first half was fairly decent. The sequence with Danielle Panabaker and Katrina Bowden on the jetty as they're attacked by the piranha was really well done. I actually found it suspenseful. Then the film just went for the dumb, gory, titfest route for the second half and kind of lost it. I knew I was supposed to be laughing, but I wasn't. And when key characters are offed through non-piranha means, you know something is wrong....

Jacintabuckethead on Jun 5, 2012


Movie was just another necrophile porno like most hollywood horror movies

anon on Jul 14, 2012

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