LAKE PLACID (1999) 

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Bill Pullman
Bridget Fonda
Oliver Platt
Brendan Gleeson
Betty White
David Lewis
Tim Dixon
Meredith Salenger

Steve Miner



Time: 82 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Horror/Comedy

One of the things I love about cable is you get the chance to watch movies for free that you know are probably going to suck, which is why you didn't pay in the first place. Of course, some films surprise you and are actually good. LAKE PLACID isn't one of them. You may be wondering why I even bothered to watch it in the first place, wasting valuable hours of my life. Well, I have to say that I was somewhat intrigued because of the cast. I knew the story was going to blow – it's about a man-eating crocodile after all – but I figured there had to be something redeeming about the script to make this group of actors agree to be in it.

Granted Pullman, Fonda and Platt aren't exactly A-listers, but they've all had fairly decent careers and roles in major projects worthy of their talent. Maybe they all saw this as the horror film that would jump start their careers, like ANACONDA did for Jennifer Lopez. If they had seen ANACONDA maybe they wouldn't have climbed onboard so quickly. How Lopez survived that film with a career intact is a miracle. The three leads can only hope to be so lucky. This film is painful to watch from start to finish. I can't imagine they needed the money that badly as to think this film was worth their time. The only cast member to come out looking good is Betty White, who plays a bitter, foul-mouthed woman who's happy the croc is living in the lake.

The film begins with a mysterious murder in a local lake in Maine. Kelly Scott (Fonda), a paleontologist from New York City, is sent by her boss to identify a tooth pulled from what was left of the body. She's sent against her will – she's not a field agent – to appease the guilt of her boss, whom she was recently dating until he broke up with her to date her best friend and co-worker. A self-proclaimed city girl, she makes her opinions of the "wild" Maine countryside apparent with every word that comes out of her mouth. She is one of the most annoying characters to play a romantic lead I have ever seen. I kept hoping the alligator would eat her just to shut her up. I don't care how smart and pretty she was, no one would fall in love with someone like that. The only reason Pullman's character does is because she's one of the only women in the film.

"I'm rooting for the crocodile. I hope he swallows your friends whole."

Needless to say, she doesn't exactly make friends with the local law enforcement, Jack Wells (Pullman) and Sheriff Hank Keough (Gleeson), but they agree to let her accompany them on their investigation. They are soon joined by a character even more crazy than Fonda's, Hector Cyr (Platt), a scientist who believes he has a mental connection with alligators. Together they try to figure out if it actually is an alligator and how it got into a tiny lake in Maine. There are a number of attacks on various animals, as well as humans, but nothing all that exciting. They don't exactly hide the fact that the animal is coming. After what seems like days of bickering, they finally figure out why the animal is living in the lake. It's not a surprise, but it does give the audience one of the only humorous exchanges of dialogue in the whole movie. Half of the group wants to kill the creature, the other half wants to keep it alive for study. More yelling ensues. They finally trap the creature after much chasing and biting, wherein no one gets killed. Boring.

The fact that none of the leads bites the big one, is the main reason this film doesn't work. Forget the fact that they're chasing a monster that isn't going anywhere. You never once believe that any of them are in mortal danger. The film tries – Platt comes closest to being killed several times – but not hard enough. If they had at least killed the Sheriff that would have been something. That would have added some suspense. If they kill the Sheriff, who's going to be next? Oooohhhhh. I can't watch it's so scary. Doesn't happen. There is nothing about this film that is interesting or original. On top of that, the acting is worse than a USA Network original flick. I wish they had all been eaten so the movie would've ended sooner. It's nice to see Betty White working again, but if this is the best she could do, maybe she should retire for good. At least Fonda's ex-boyfriend Eric Stoltz had the sense to play the character that was comatose throughout much of his horror-movie-gone bad flick. Even if you've seen every other horror movie, this is still one to miss. It has very little bite and absolutely no soul.

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