Piranha 3D: Film Review

"Piranha 3D" is a pitch-perfect, guilty-pleasure serving of late-summer schlock that handily nails the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the Roger Corman original.

During the past few months, we have been bombarded by 3D toys, cats and dogs, green ogres, airbenders and even hip-hop dancers, but conspicuously missing from that multidimensional lineup have been totally naked honeys making out in an underwater ballet.

Successfully rectifying that situation is "Piranha 3D," a pitch-perfect, guilty-pleasure serving of late-summer schlock that handily nails the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the Roger Corman original.

That 1978 release, a goof on Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" and its spawn, was directed by Joe Dante with a script by John Sayles and would be followed by a lesser James Cameron-directed 1981 sequel of sorts as well as a forgettable 1995 TV redo.

But director Alexandre Aja, who worked his remake magic with 2006's atmospheric "The Hills Have Eyes," gets it mainly right, assisted by a lively CG boost and a game cast that really gets into the spirit of things.

Boasting a generous R-rated carnal/carnage quotient, the movie deemed too hot for Comic-Con -- nice marketing there, Dimension -- should handily hit its targeted young-male demo.

The requisite tone quickly is established during an opening sequence in which the camera zooms in on a drunk guy fishing on a boat. The presumed first victim turns out to be none other than Richard Dreyfuss, in full Matt Hooper "Jaws" garb and reprising "Show Me the Way to Go Home."

Cut to typically boisterous spring-break festivities over on the otherwise-sleepy Lake Victoria (played by Lake Havasu, Ariz.), where Jerry O'Connell gleefully piles on the depravity as a Joe Francis-esque video chronicler of any activity involving bikini-clad babes and dependable Elisabeth Shue keeps the peace as the town's no-nonsense sheriff.

While she's out investigating the cause of the bloody water, her teenage son (Steven McQueen, grandson of famed tough-guy Steve) is supposed to be keeping
an eye on his younger siblings, but O'Connell's offer of a gig as a location scout proves too hard to resist.

"Jaws" it ain't -- Aja exhibits little patience for such stuff as dramatic tension and tautly coiled suspense, and there are some undeniable choppy bits -- but he never loses sight of the potential fun factor laid out in Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg's script.

Nor does he stint on the gore, with a terrific assist by the veteran effects duo of Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, who truly outdo themselves with all those nibbled body parts, as well as added bite by creature designer Neville Page.

With the key elements in place, the 3D conversion, though decent, really doesn't bring all that much to the party, especially one also attended by Ving Rhames, Adam Scott, pinup Kelly Brook and an irresistibly over-the-top Christopher Lloyd, pulling out all the Doc Brown stops as a wall-eyed marine-life expert.

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