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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #544 (Vol. 11, No. 35). This edition is for the week of August 23--29, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Piranha 3D"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Piranha 3D"  by Mike Smith
Will's 2009 South Florida Adventure: Part Two  by William Moriaty
The Lost Drive-In: Demented Double Features  by ED Tucker
Zeiram 2  by Jason Fetters
Dad .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Dimension Films     
Starring: Elizabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell and Richard Dreyfuss
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 28 mins

The 1978 movie “Piranha” boosts quite a filmmaking pedigree, including Joe Dante and John Sayles. “Piranha II” upped the ante a little in that it gave six time Academy Award nominee (three time winner) and undisputed “King of the World” James Cameron his first directing gig. “Piranha 3D” carries on the tradition by featuring an Oscar winner and a fellow nominee. And Rebecca Romijn’s husband!

Lake Victoria. A picturesque town in Arizona that draws thousands of college age kids to spring break. While the kids are frolicking on the beach, we encounter a man out on the water fishing. He looks vaguely familiar…watch cap, grey sweatshirt, jeans. Singing an even more familiar tune….”show me the way to go home.” Holy crap, everybody. It’s Richard Dreyfuss (the Oscar winner I mentioned above)! While fighting the fish on his line he knocks a beer bottle over the side, which floats softly to the bottom of the lake. And by softly I mean like one of those giant anvils in the Bugs Bunny cartoons because when it hits the sand it starts a chain reaction underwater earthquake that reveals another lake below Lake Victoria. And it’s inhabitants. Don’t want to give too much away here but you can rest assure that if he was asked, “Matt” would tell you that the fish are certainly biting.

Packed with enough nudity to make Russ Meyer proud (if it was my movie I would have named it “Piranha 3DD”) and enough blood to make Hershell Gordon Lewis beam, “P3D” is one of those movies you know you shouldn’t enjoy but can’t help doing so. The story is quite original: local sheriff suspects something in the water is killing people and wants to close the beach; politicians and businessmen counsel against it, citing the tourist trade. Tragedy ensues. Imagine that plot in the hands of someone like Steven Spielberg. That’s a movie I’d LOVE to see.

The cast features some talented actors, including Shue (the other Oscar nominee) as the sheriff, Ving Rhames as her main deputy and a young man by the name of Steven R. McQueen as Jake, the sheriff’s son. If that name sounds familiar it’s because young Mister McQueen is the grandson of screen legend Steve McQueen. His father is actor Chad McQueen, who is probably best remembered as the wild eyed blonde kid that WASN’T Johnny in “The Karate Kid.” O’Connell is spot on as Derrick Jones, who is in town to film some hotties for his “Wild Wild Girls” home videos. Any resemblance between Derrick Jones and “Girls Gone Wild” head guy Joe Francis is clearly not-coincidental. The script has the occasional witty line but it’s pretty much a by-the-book retelling of that OTHER fish story with a lot more blood. A LOT MORE!

Which brings me to the incredible make up effects created by Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger. They run the gamut from nasty fish bites to pretty much the last thing any man would want to happen to them should they find themselves in a lake full of piranhas. There is another incredible shot that I can’t mention for fear of giving the scene away but please trust me when I say that it is a brilliant make up effect. And for those of you who prefer nudity to blood, there’s plenty of that here as well, including an underwater show that sure beats anything I saw when my grandfather used to take me to Webb’s City Department Store in St. Petersburg to see the “live” mermaid show!

The 3D effects aren’t too bad, though eventually you get tired of dodging fish flying at your head. And if you’ve ever wondered what being vomited on in 3D looks like then wonder no more!

As a critic all I ask of a movie is that it be in focus and be entertaining. “P3D” fits the bill on both parts. On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Piranha 3D”  

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "Piranha 3D" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.