Like many other critics, I dragged myself to a Friday morning matinee and bought a ticket to see the unpromising Piranha 3D, which Dimension did not screen for the press. It had everything working against it: it was a remake, an August horror film, and in 3D. The Weinsteins barely even made any publicity materials available for it. That meant it just had to be garbage, right? Nope. I came out happily surprised, and I was not the only one. The film currently has some of the best reviews of the summer.
The general consensus is that it gets just the right tone, which is playful and happy-go-lucky. A movie can go far on that. It doesn't have to be particularly smart. Piranha 3D doesn't really have much to say about pollution or pop culture. It's brisk and well-paced, and it has a sunny, summery feel. It's unbelievably gory and not shy about being sexy. It manages to pay tribute to Jaws in one scene without actually re-creating a scene from Jaws (the audience has to understand the connection). But the real key is that it manages to invite the audience into this good time, rather than simply having a good time in front of an audience. It's the same attitude that managed to lure the good, strong cast to the production. (You've no doubt seen the Funny or Die"For Your Consideration" video.)