Monday, August 23, 2010

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The Water's Just Fine

When I did theatre, one of my teachers spoke to us about a production of Equus in which she appeared. She played Jill, the girl smitten with disturbed stableboy Alan Strang, and if you know the play, then you know that there's a sex scene in it. My teacher was nervous about going full nude on stage, it being her first time revealing herself in such a way to the public. To ease her into it, the director came up with a brilliant idea: the entire cast (they remain on stage throughout the show) would go nude, taking part in a wondrous spectacle my teacher called "The Nude Ballet".

I didn't really know quite what a nude ballet would look like. Hell, I hadn't given much thought to my teacher's story since the '08 Broadway revival of Equus starring Daniel Radcliffe. Nevertheless, somewhere between a beer bottle causing an earthquake and Adam Scott shooting fish while atop a jet ski, Piranha 3D made damn sure that not only would I get to see a nude ballet, but it would be underwater, set to the "Lakme-Flower Duet" and feature Kelly Brook and Riley Steele. The strangest thing? It doesn't even feel exploitative. It doesn't even feel unnecessary, for Piranha 3D is a film that's already promised viewers "Sea, Sex and Blood" (French tagline), and when you have Brook and Steele playing ex-pole dancers starring in a Wild Wild Girls video, not having them naked would be cheating the audience. The context, the tone, the music and cinematographer John R. Leonetti make this sequence hilarious, sexy and -- surprisingly enough -- beautiful, almost poetic.

If ever there was a film that knew what it was, Piranha 3D is it. It wallows in its buckets of blood. It ogles the bare breasts on display unashamedly. It laughs with the audience without condescension or winking. This is a film that knows how to balance humor and horror. Are you a laughing because it's funny, or because you're appalled and don't know how to react? The answer is yes! A girl is torn in half! A propellor is used as a weapon! 3D vomiting! Elisabeth Shue in a sheriff uniform!

The ensemble? What an ensemble! Adam Scott gets too little screentime as a seismologist who leaps into action, but he also plays his role perfectly -- he's in on the joke, but he resists mugging. Jerry O'Connell plays the director of a topless girls on vacation series called Wild Wild Girls (sound familiar?); while his role is coked-up, manic, sleazy, and played to the hilt...he also resists mugging. In a just world, he'd be getting supporting actor buzz. I'm serious. A man who commits to a character and tone the way he does deserves recognition. Kelly Brook is the slut with a heart of gold, Jessica Szohr the good girl experimenting with going bad, Steven R. McQueen the requisite teen male lead. And, of course, there's Christopher Lloyd as crazy fish expert Mr. Goodman. Every line delivery is bonkers and genius. My God, I can't believe they actually got everyone in on the joke! I can't believe how great everyone is in this!

Scratch that. I can't believe how great everything is in this. Not only does this movie have chomps them up and spits them out at you. In glorious 3D!

1 comment:

RC said...

wow - this film is definitly on my no see list, but i appreciate reading about your appreciation, especially with a film that's honest and accepts what it is!

Thanks for your comments on my blog - glad to find yours.