When “Piranha 3D” debuted at the tail end of the summer of 2010, it took people by surprise, with French filmmakers Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur throwing good taste out the window and instead offering a smorgasbord of outré delights (buckets of blood climaxing in a “Saving Private Ryan“-style beach party massacre and several progressive sexual moments, including a slow motion underwater nude ballet and a severed penis being coughed in the audience’s face). It was scary and funny and witty and its game cast (among them: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, and Jerry O’Connell) was more than in on the joke. And while director Aja pitched an intriguing premise for the sequel (he proposed it be set at Thailand’s oceanic Full Moon Festival), the Weinsteins instead chose to rush a cheapy sequel into development, using the creative principles from their negligible direct-to-video “Feast” franchise. While originally slated for this past Thanksgiving, a new trailer (courtesy of EDF Films) has dropped, touting a “summer 2012” release date and, while it looks nowhere near as smart/fun as Aja’s 2010 original (itself a loose remake of Joe Dante‘s Roger Corman-produced “Jaws” rip-off from 1978), it looks like there could be some pleasures to be had (of the flesh, at least).
The trailer starts off echoing the hedonistic tone of Aja’s “Piranha 3D,” with a narrator gravely intoning “In the world’s wildest water park the party has never been hotter”… cute bikini-clad cuties getting hosed down (sadly without the first film’s Eli Roth asking them to shake their “Danny DeVitos”) … “and the guest have never been hungrier.” We then get to see the adorable, perpetually undervalued lead Danielle Panabaker interview Christopher Lloyd, who played the eccentric pet store owner in the first film.
Lloyd says some expositional mumbo jumbo about the piranhas entering drains via the river (which actually riffs on some of the stuff in Dante’s 1978 original) and then we’re treated to what will surely be the main set piece of the movie – the opening of the water park (called Big Wet, har-har-har), complete with celebrity appearance by drunken hamburger-afficionado David Hasselhoff and lots of people getting eaten up by the Neville Page-designed fishies.
While the first film offered some definite silliness, it was anchored by flashes of sublime social satire, with the spring break shenanigans offering up a pointed critique of both American excess and its prudish Puritanism (the movie was, after all, made by a pair of smart-ass Frenchmen). All of those highfalutin concepts seem to have been thrown out the window (and into the piranha-infested jacuzzi), as the last thirty seconds offer up a cavalcade of goofy horror gags bordering on the incoherent – a piranha swimming inside a girl’s stomach (possibly delivered during sex), a zombie-like redneck eating a piranha, a gumdrop-sized piranha plopping into Panabaker’s bathwater, and Ving Rhames, another holdover from 2010, asking someone to “bring me my legs,” at which point he straps on a pair of prosthetic shotguns. (Seriously, he held out for more money in “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” until he was relegated to glorified cameo status but jumped on the chance to come back for this?)
We’re not saying the movie will be without its moments (we did, after all, catch a glimpse of Gary Busey in there), but the whole thing seems cheaper, sillier, and sleazier – it’s legitimately becoming the thing that the first movie so gleefully sent up. Oh well. We’ll look for this in the summer months; at the very least it might serve as a nice breather between superhero movies. Watch (out) below.