It is incredible how a movie concept can be overlooked for so many years without finally making it to the big screen; it is amazing that no one ever thought of making a movie about a monster in a lake before. Please note the sarcasm. There must be a dozen films like Lake Placid, a mild-mannered horror movie about a thirty-foot crocodile in a Maine lake. While it is an entertaining movie, it lacks the throws and punches that a good movie is able to throw out constantly.
David E. Kelley, of "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal" fame, tries to bring his screenwriting franchise to the big screen with Lake Placid. His television writing shows as the entire script is packed with straight-jawed humorous punch lines and cruel sarcasm. There's the stereotype sheriff, the complaining female that's supposed to be a professional scientist, and the know-it-all expert/love interest. Of course, all this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The movie takes great pride in spoofing other horror movies as this is almost more of a comedy than an action horror picture. Right off the bat the sheriff complains that everyone has to be sarcastic to him because he is the boondocks sheriff. An old woman feeds the crocodile with cows. A deputy offers Oliver Platt sex if he will just get out of the water and away from the crocodile's lair.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that Lake Placid is good for a lot of cheap laughs. It is funny, and it is supposed to be funny. From beginning to end the characters bring forth an onslaught of dry and sarcastic humor, although Bridget Fonda, and even Bill Pullman, the two "main" characters, seem a little out of the trend. The dialogue isn't anything to scream about but it is up there with a typical TV movie.
And that's what Lake Placid should be. The main star of the movie is the crocodile, which does not look as bad as the snake in Anaconda but still doesn't look completely lifelike. Like I said, the dialogue is of cheesy television movie standards. And so is the action. Besides a few bloody moments, the film looks and feels like a television film, keeping the action and horror to a minimum. There are a few suspenseful moments but each exciting scene is flanked on both sides by other, duller scenes. Basically, the characters fall into the water and then get out of the water. And then there's the ending. As endings go, Lake Placid's has to be one of the most unsatisfying of any film. There is more falling in the water and that's about it, and then a little bit about morals about killing this "miracle." Oh, and that brings me to my next point. More wild animals (a moose, a bear, and a cow or two) die than humans, which probably isn't the best way to go. Not too many people want to see a bear get killed by a croc, let alone a cow.
Lake Placid is funny and definitely much better than Anaconda, but since I'm comparing it to Anaconda, that tells you something.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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