Walter Mencken 3:39 p.m., June 18
Review: Piranha 3DD
"Welcome to rock bottom," says Baywatch legend David Hasselhoff as he prepares to make a celebrity appearance at The Big Wet, a water park in Merkin County, Arizona that has been overhauled by sweet star Danielle Panabaker's creepy stepfather into a water park with stripper lifeguards and a suits-optional Adult Pool outfitted with a cooch cam.
He's talking to himself, but of course, he's also talking to you. But then, you knew that already. You knew that from the opening scene, in which the floating corpse of a cow farts out piranha eggs, only to explode when a perfectly cast Gary Busey lights said farts just before being chewed to bits by lil' baby carnivorous fish.
The plot of Piranha 3DD - that's right, this time, they find their way into the water park - is totally superfluous. There is no battle with the fish. There is no brilliant solution, unless "drain the pools" is brilliant. The point here is to serve up one over-the-top morsel of sexualized carnage after another. When we are treated to a shot of a bloody piranha twitching and chomping as it lies on the beach between a woman's widely parted thighs, that's called foreshadowing. And because you've come this far, I'll give you the denouement, as rendered by the film's girl-who-shouldn't-have-given-it-up: "Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina." You're welcome.
But did I mention that the creepy stepfather is gamely played by comic creep extraordinaire David Koechner? When he calls his Adult Pool "a stroke of genius" and mimics beating off, you may be tempted to think it a thoughtful characterization. When he eventually succumbs to a cliche of modern movie deaths, it feels almost like fun. Until the bloody motorboat that follows. Then it's back to over-the-top.
At this point, I'm tempted to go all contrarian and argue that the film is a brilliant critique of modern sexual mores. "The world of the water park is already exactly what Koechner has made it - an unsanitary meat market, where women make themselves prey to the devouring, primordial male gaze. And every association of killer fish and feminine genitalia is a direct attack on the male sexual anxiety that is aroused along with the rest of him in such an environment. That the nebbish hero cannot swim is no accident - only by removing himself from the befouled waters can he hope to remain pure enough to survive." And so on and so on. But that's not why you're going, is it?
No stars, natch.