Piranha 3DD

By Jared Young

Mailed on June 04, 2012

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Dear Martin Bernfeld and Devin C. Lussier

Dear Martin,

You guys must be close pals by now. Just last year you worked together in the editorial departments of Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse alongside the legendary Michael Kahn, his longtime collaborator. So, having now seen Piranha 3DD, the film you both edited, I'm curious: which of the lessons you learned from working in such intimate proximity to one of the most significant editor/director partnerships of all time did you apply when you started stitching together the footage for Piranha 3DD?

Maybe one of the lessons was: recognize the value of the individual pieces.

David Koechner and Paul Scheer both bring strong comedy credentials; Christopher Lloyd and Gary Busey bring some manic B-movie gravitas; even David Hasselhoff shows up in a pleasantly self-deprecating mood. And, of course, lots of tits. Hours and hours of footage of tits: at rest and in motion, up close and afar, dripping with water, dripping with blood.

Unfortunately for you, the sum of these individual pieces, in execution, is less than whole: Koechner is resurrecting a half-wit ghost of Champ Kind, Scheer is just as diaphanous, Lloyd and Busey are given woefully little to do, and Hasselhoff, when he shows up, seems to be performing in his own private version of The Kentucky Fried Movie. Only the tits live up to expectations, moving the plot forward in ways that no performer or scene or line of dialogue seems able to: there's an adult-themed waterpark, some piranhas left over from the first film, and despite the best efforts of our beautiful, bland, forgettable protagonists, the twain shall meet.

That's not much, but it's enough. Dare imagine what Spielberg and Kahn could have made out of it (or maybe Verna Fields). But one gets the sense that Piranha 3DD was shot sequentially, and, as time passed, the filmmakers quit caring altogether and improvised entire shooting days with random sight gags, non sequitur exchanges of dialogue, and reams of B-roll that looks like camcorder footage of someone's filthy fish tank. And thank God for that second unit, am I right? Without them - and with the murky footage of that one underwater plant to pad the transitions from scene to pointless scene - there would be no movie.

The official running time is 83 minutes, but at least 15 minutes of that is the epic, interminable end credit sequence. Part epilogue, part blooper reel, part deleted scenes, part making-of featurette--you guys took all the future DVD extras and assembled them into a circuitous David Lynch-ian nightmare sequence. In a way, it's the best part of the movie. In another, more accurate way, it's the worst. It's also a pretty perfect summation of the movie as a whole: a lot of different things happening at the same time, with no cadence and no momentum to unite them, all set to a soundtrack of contemporary tunes that sounds like a compilation of the worst late-90s alt-rock.

I think I know what you guys were going for. You were trying to make a subversive, self-referential, self-aware horror flick that indulges all those frat-boy fantasies about big boobs and sharp knives while at the same time, with a knowing sneer, observing it all from a distance. Right? Something like that? A version of Cabin in the Woods for readers of Maxim and watchers of Manswers. And I guess you partially succeeded, because, in a way, Piranha 3DD is like Cabin in the Woods. Except with the cleverness-to-breast ratio reversed.

So, what lessons did you apply from your internship with the most popular director of all time and his unsung architect?

Clearly, it was this: when all else fails, cut to a close up of bouncing tits.



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