Blu-ray Review: ‘Piranha 3DD’ – It Bites!

Throwing a typically unhinged Gary Busey into a mixer with killer fish, a T&A-heavy water park, and slumming David Hasselhoff playing a slumming David Hasselhoff might not be everyone’s idea of a likely good time, but I thought that with “Feast” director John Gulager at the helm, some kind of wit and gruesome fun might be had in “Piranha 3DD.” Unfortunately, Gulager’s 3D followup to director David Aja’s resurrection of the “Piranha” franchise is pretty toothless, tasteless, and not all that fun.

Months after the events of the first film and miles away, water park owner Chet (“Anchorman’s” David Koechner) is less concerned about swarms of ravenous fish, and more interested in the bottom line at his landlocked resort. With his stepdaughter Maddy (Danielle Panabaker, 2009’s “Friday the 13th<") at college, he's chosen the questionable business model of making the beloved but struggling water park adult themed, with busty, surgically-enhanced topless models wading in the pool and imported Russian models standing in as lifeguards.

Maddy's not too happy with the changes, including a new, illegal outflow pipe for the park's chlorine which, unbeknownst to everyone, has agitated a swarm of the toothy fish, which slowly begin making their way towards an inevitable bloody assault on the park.

While 2010’s “Piranha” wasn’t great, it at least had a steady, attention-grabbing build to its own gore-soaked finale which played out more like disaster movie and felt huge and kind of traumatic. Gulager, working for a script with Feast collaborators Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, paces 3DD more languidly, with everything from a detour to chat with Christopher Lloyd (reprising his wild-eyed scientist schtick here), to a romantic triangle between Maddy, her jerky corrupt deputy boyfriend Kyle (Chris Zylka), and the 90-lb wimp park employee Barry (Matt Bush).

“Piranha 3DD” fails to match the full-blown bloodbath of the first movie (it’s a lot easier to get out of a pool here, than it is to swim in from the middle of a lake), and features too many callbacks to that film to really establish its own identity (Lloyd is joined by another pair of cameos late in the movie). Its signature gag, which I think exists solely to top the severed penis from the first movie, doesn’t really shock so much as raise questions about how much everyone assembled understands about how human anatomy works. I wouldn’t grouse so much about the last bit since Piranha 3DD is ostensibly heightening everything to the level of a cartoon, but it’s unforgivable that this gag is telegraphed so early and awkwardly (and shows off some weak practical effects, too).

As for the 3D, it’s there, and Gulager and company really play up the gimmick, but your mileage may vary in terms of enjoyment here. Given the shoddiness of the CG effects and practical effects, pushing them out prominently towards the viewer does both the movie and the audience a disservice.

It’s not all terrible. Hasselhoff is at least having a good time as a party hard version of himself, and his triple take in the final scenes at the pool provided the one genuine laugh from the film.

Presentation and Special Features

Anchor Bay has packed their release in a three disc set including a DVD, the 3D feature on Blu-ray, and a separate Blu-ray with the 2D version of the film and special features.

The 2D Blu-ray disc includes feature commentary by director John Gulager, the film’s producer Joel Soisson, and co-writer Marcus Dunstan.

Additionally, you can check out three deleted scenes (2:34), the extended story trailer “The Story of 3DD” (07:49) with the cast and filmmakers detailing the particulars of the plot. “The Hofftastic World of David Hasselhoff” (02:09) has a cameraman following around the one-time “Baywatch” star as he jokes about his part in the movie. Famed crazy person Gary Busey gets his own blooper reel with “Busey’s Bloopers” (02:04), which is really just the actor rambling and occasionally… burping. “Wet And Wild With David Koechner” (01:37) is another short with an actor joking into the camera. Finally, there’s “A Lesson With John McEnroe,” (03:53) a silly and totally unrelated short featuring the temperamental tennis great directed by Michael Ratner.

“Piranha 3DD” is available on 3D Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay.