Combustible Celluloid
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With: Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden, Adrian Martinez, Paul James Jordan, Meagan Tandy, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Scheer, Gary Busey, Clu Gulager, Sierra Fisk, Irina Voronina, Ving Rhames
Written by: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, Joel Soisson
Directed by: John Gulager
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong bloody horror violence and gore, graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use
Running Time: 83
Date: 05/11/2012

Piranha 3DD (2012)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Something Smells Fishy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Whereas the previous Piranha movie captured just the right blend of silliness, exploitation, and fun, this new movie seems totally lost. It comes across as forced, ugly, offensive, and lazy. The theme park idea should have been enjoyably ridiculous, but director John Gulager treats it with the same callousness as the David Koechner character treats his water park. Likewise, the piranha attacks are lazy and dumb, using "close calls" to generate artificial suspense. And the movie stoops so low as to show a piranha killing a young boy.

The piranha attacks of the previous movie left an entire vacation resort in ruins, and a news commentator asks, "can it happen again?" It can, and does, in an Arizona water park. A marine biology student Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) returns home for the summer, to find that her stepfather (David Koechner) has turned the family water park into a sex attraction, advertising busty lifeguards and an "adult pool," full of naked women. Unfortunately, he has also tapped into an underground lake and released more of the hungry, bitey, carnivorous fish. With a tall, handsome, crooked cop (Chris Zylka), and a short nerd (Matt Bush) vying for her affections every step of the way can Maddy save the day?
Where the movie succeeds is in its choice of actors. The diminutive Matt Bush makes an unusual romantic hero, and Danielle Panabaker is an appealing and somewhat intelligent heroine. Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd, both from the previous film, turn up in small parts, and David Hasselhoff is funny in a self-mocking role. Gary Busey and the director's father Clu Gulager appear in the prologue, which -- in a forecast of things to come -- uses cow farts as a plot device.

Anchor Bay's 2012 hybrid pack comes with a DVD, a digital copy, a Blu-ray and a 3D Blu-ray for those few with that equipment at home. Extras include a commentary track with director John Gulager, producer Joel Soisson, and co-Writer Marcus Dunstan. There are about 2-1/2 minutes of deleted scenes and five short featurettes. One of them has Gary Busey's weird outtakes, and another is a short film starring John McEnroe.

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