Cinema

Fishing for a story

A still from Piranha. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The movie opens with Richard Dreyfuss, who we remember from the oceanography institute, holding forth on great whites in Steven Spielberg's Jaws 35 years ago. So here he is in a fishing boat humming ‘Show me the way to go home' which if you remember is what Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw sing in Jaws. There is an earthquake and some murky crevice opens up and many little creatures swim out.

Dreyfuss is still humming the ditty. We go under water and we have that monster-eye point of view and you know something horrid is going to pop up from the deep. And sure enough it does and there is this great churning as Dreyfuss disappears in a frothy swirl of red.

Cut to spring break and zillion youngsters are screaming and having an American good time. When the comely sheriff Julie Forester finds Dreyfuss's body, she wants to close down the lake but then it is the Fourth of July weekend. Oops wrong movie again — that was Jaws too. This is what happens when filmmakers break the fourth wall.

It is spring break weekend and an important time financially for the county. So sheriff reluctantly agrees to keep Lake Victoria open. There are townies coming from the seismographic institute to check out the earthquake.

We are introduced to 17-year-old Jake Forester, the sheriff's son who has to miss all the spring break fun as he is babysitting his brother and sister. He decides to go out with his new friends — a porno film director, on the lookout for some “innocence”.

All hell breaks lose as the creatures from the deep — prehistoric piranhas with a mean attitude feed on everything and everybody. The wet T-shirt contestants, the film crew, the seismologists, all are prey to the voracious carnivores.

Director Alejandro Aja ( Hills Have Eyes) is no Spielberg and does not wait to show us the full frontal of the piranha. And honestly the fish look rather silly with big, big goo goo eyes. But Aja has a sense of humour and amidst all the gore and flying body parts, it was difficult not to giggle as everything looks so patently fake. And the porno crew has some of the funniest lines including a character's chagrined “they took away my penis” after an attack.

Of the cast, the lovely Elisabeth Shue plays the chief Brody (oh, someone stop me from remembering Jaws all the time!) She plays the sheriff and looks hot in uniform. Ving Rames gets to skewer much fish as her deputy. Christopher Lloyd (he was the crazy professor in the Back to the Future movies) makes bug's eyes and holds forth on piranhas. Steven R. McQueen, grandson of the king of cool, Steve McQueen, is nerdy cool as Jake.

By the way, the original Piranha (1978) was a spoof of Jaws and the sequel (1981) was James Cameron's directorial debut.

Incidentally anyone haring it to the theatre in the hope of seeing girls gone wild and the rest of it, be warned — the censors have attacked the film with the ferocity of piranhas.

Creature feature addicts like your's truly can enjoy the movie to the full right down to swirling entrails and mean looking fish with wicked rows of serrated teeth. Oh joy!

Piranhas

Genre: Horror/comedy

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2021 3:32:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Fishing-for-a-story/article15902943.ece

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