The Los Angeles theater Cinefamily hosts a late-night weekend series called HFS; the “H” is for “Holy,” the “F” is a gerund and you can probably guess what the “S” stands for. It’s a series dedicated to movies that are jaw-droppingly brilliant in their complete disregard for the general rules of cinema and good taste, and they go beyond “bad” into a loony realm of awesomeness all their own.
Two years ago, “Piranha 3D” was one of those rare HFS movies to feature big names and to get a wide release. Critics and audiences alike were bowled over by its chutzpah, its in-your-face gore that managed to be both stomach-turning and tongue-in-cheek and by its total willingness to own its own stupidity.
“Piranha 3DD,” sad to say, is not an HFS experience, although it certainly tries. But it’s in the trying that it ultimately fails. The outrageousness feels calculated and even desperate, with a final ten minutes packed with beheadings in the hopes that audiences will forget how lackluster the previous 73 minutes were.
With the events of the prior film having turned Lake Victoria, Ariz., from a thriving spring break destination to an abandoned ghost town, the killer fishies have moved on to a new body of water. Christopher Lloyd’s demented icthyologist turns up again to provide a cockamamie scientific explanation as to why prehistoric piranha would be attracted to chlorinated pool water -- quite the coincidence, since local water park The Big Wet is about to open for the season.
Good-girl marine biology grad student Maddy (Danielle Panabaker, a dead ringer for Gabrielle Anwar) returns to Merkin County (it’s a sex joke, not a real place) to discover that her sleazy stepfather Chet (David Koechner) has converted the family business into the first combination water park and strip joint, complete with busty strippers as lifeguards.
As Maddy’s horny friends get eaten or physically invaded by the piranha -- this is the sort of T&A movie where the extras get naked but the actresses with dialogue keep their bras on during sex -- we get more and more fish attacks, leading up to The Big Wet’s opening day, where special guest David Hasselhoff (funnier that you might imagine at spoofing himself) may wind up being a real lifeguard for once when the patrons start getting munched.
“Piranha 3DD” tries valiantly to ape the moves of its predecessor, giving us Gary Busey and Clu Gulager (father of the film’s director, “Project Greenlight” survivor John Gulager) as a pre-credits amuse bouche and even upping the ante with vagina dentata and a goofy fat guy who has carnal knowledge of the pool’s drainage system.
Sadly, too much of the movie is taken up with unfunny jokes, predictable scares, cheeseball 3D gimmickry and a general lack of the oomph that “Piranha 3D” had in abundance. Despite the high hopes of genre fans, this is one stinky fish story.