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Review: 'Piranha 3DD' is a not-too-bad reason to sit inside

The film is being shown inside air-conditioned theaters. It could be worse — or better.

June 04, 2012|By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • David Koechner in the movie "Piranha 3DD."
David Koechner in the movie "Piranha 3DD." (Weinstein Co., Weinstein…)

Tacky and intermittently entertaining is all"Piranha 3DD"sets out to be, and that is all this playfully graphic horror-comedy sequel accomplishes. It is a relative compliment to call the film a perfectly acceptable summertime air conditioner movie for those looking to zone out in a cool room for a spell.

The film centers on marine biology student Maddy (Danielle Panabaker), who plans to spend the summer working alongside her stepfather (David Koechner) running the family water park, which following her mother's passing he has refashioned into a more adult-themed attraction. (Best not to think on the chlorine bill.)

Her friends (Katrina Bowden, Meagan Tandy, Matt Bush) pitch in, as her ex-boyfriend (Chris Zylka) also hovers around. Then the super-sized prehistoric killer fish from the 2010 precursor "Piranha 3D" find their way to the park's illicit water supply — "underground lakes and rivers" is said often — and chaos, a lot of biting, bleeding and bare body parts ensue. David Hasselhoff also makes a cameo as himself.

"Piranha 3DD" becomes an inadvertent study in contrasts, as certain ideas work some of the time. The 3-D effects — lots of leaping fish — are at times jittery and unconvincing, yet other times provide a genuine added jolt. Its teasing jiggles are much more exciting than its straight-ahead nudity.

The original-original "Piranha" was a "Jaws"knockoff made under the auspices of Roger Corman's late-'70s exploitation machine, and it was the best kind of bad movie: sharp, efficient and self-aware while still striving to be good.

"Piranha 3D," directed by Alexandre Aja, went for full-bore in-the-know badness by ramping up the bare breasts, blood and ridiculousness. "DD" director John Gulager keeps that tone for the sequel and winds up with a fairly fun, basically passable, could-be-better bad movie.

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