Opened: April 11, 1997 | Rated: R
The thing nobody told me about "Anaconda" is that it's a comedy. What else can you call a movie that has an inside-the-snake cam in the scene in which slithery serpent-hunter Jon Voight meets his doom?
If that isn't funny enough, how about four minutes later when he's disgorged right on top of the fabulously tank-topped Jennifer Lopez, winks at her and falls over dead?
This is camp. The problem is, I honestly don't think it was intended that way (with the clear exception of the wink). "Anaconda" is supposed to be scary.
The plot: A nicely diversified documentary film crew (Eric Stoltz, Lopez, Ice Cube and a few edible extras) heads up the Amazon to find themselves some mythical natives to make a movie about -- but instead meet up with a 30-foot, carnivorous snake.
They also stumble upon Voight who has an Ahab complex about the beast and hijacks their barge to chase it. He spends most of the film doing his best Brando impression while steering the heroes into danger so he can shoot at his nemesis with tranquilizer darts.
Naturally, the snake gets the better of them and the attack scenes are pure drive-in stuff. The snake's-eye-view cameras approaching nervous prey is just the beginning. The computer-generated critter has this spring-loaded way of coiling its victims, then staring them straight in the eye before gulping them down like a Twinkie. In once scene it does this while hanging from a tree to catch a fleeing filmmaker as he dives from a waterfall.
To be honest, this is a one-star movie, but I'm granting it an extra star because it made my face hurt from laughing. "Anaconda" is a movie you rent on video with your most cynical friends and throw pretzels at the screen.
It has the snake-stomach cam, gasoline-covered snake flambe and multi-angled explosions. It has Voight splashing Lopez and Cube (again acting mostly with his perpetually knitted brow) with monkey blood to lure the serpent -- then whispering "Monkey blood," as ominously as he can muster.
Funny, funny stuff. "Anaconda" might be the best bad movie of the year.
In deference to Lopez, who I have seen in several secondary and restrictive roles, I must say if there is anything redeeming about this movie, she's it. Far better than the material here, she's one to watch in the same way Gweneth Paltrow was two years ago. And not just when she's in a tank top.