Courtesy Photo
**1/2 stars 115 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, July 16, 1999
Directed by Steve Miner

Starring Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White & Meredith Salenger


Great guilty pleasure cornball terror flick. Rent it and pop enough popcorn to throw half of it at the screen.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 1/11/2000

Steve Miner:
"Halloween: H20" (1998)

Bridget Fonda:
"Jackie Brown" (1997)
"Touch" (1997)

Bill Pullman:
"Lost Highway" (1997)
"Independence Day" (1996)

Oliver Platt:
"Bulworth" (1998)
"Dr. Dolittle" (1998)
"The Impostors" (1998)
"Simon Birch" (1998)
"Dangerous Beauty" (1998)
"A Time to Kill" (1996)

Brendan Gleeson:
"Michael Collins" (1996)

Betty White:
"Hard Rain" (1998)

Cookie cutter monster movie redeemed by stars, sarcasm

By Rob Blackwelder

"Lake Placid" is a sub-standard monster movie with such a great cast of enjoyable stars you won't even care that it's bad.

Star number one: Bridget Fonda, who plays a lab jockey paleontologist, an indoor kind of girl sent to a remote lake in Maine to examine what appears to be a prehistoric tooth found in the remains of a Fish and Game scuba diver, bitten in half by creature or creatures unknown.

Star number two: The criminally under-recognized Brendan Gleeson ("The General," "Braveheart"), playing a lemon-faced local sheriff who lets it be known he wants nothing to do with sarcastic city slickers coming to his county and calling themselves "experts" on this and that.

And boy are they sarcastic (more about the stars in a minute). The movie's saving grace -- what keeps the absurdity enjoyable -- is the constant pot shots traded between scientists, local law enforcement, an eccentric old lady who lives on the lake and knows more than she's willing to say (enter Betty White -- star number three -- at her ironically foul-mouthed best), and an even more eccentric, mercenary and motor-mouthed millionaire (Oliver Platt -- number four, and also under-appreciated) with his own helicopter and a dogmatic mania for...crocodiles.

Knowing this much, you can guess the rest: Somewhere in this murky but picturesque, and inexplicably isolated lake lurks a gigantic and incredibly well-rendered CGI croc that eats grizzly bears in a single bite and chomps the heads off of extras who lean too far over the sides of boats.

Written by "Ally McBeal" creator David E. Kelley, "Lake Placid" isn't particularly scary or clever. Visually and progressively it follows without deviation a three-act outline cemented by decades of monster movies, and at times it makes no sense whatsoever (why would "no one live within 25 miles" of a gorgeous, idyllic lake in New England?).

The characters are stock and the croc is, ultimately, the one audiences root for when Gleeson and Fish and Game guy Bill Pullman ("Zero Effect," "Independence Day") want to kill it. Fonda and Platt, of course, want to tranquilize it and move it to a nature reserve or something.

Even the smart remarks aren't all that funny on paper, although Kelley gets points for having his characters sass each other in layers and rhythms weakly reminiscent of a Howard Hawks comedy.

But it's because of Fonda, Pullman, Gleeson, White and especially Platt -- and their rabid enjoyment of their ruthlessly acerbic dialogue -- that this otherwise dismissable drive-in flick lands in that inexplicable category called Good Dumb Fun.


powered by FreeFind
SPLICEDwire home
Online Film Critics Society
All Rights Reserved
Return to top
Current Reviews
SPLICEDwire Home