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Movie Reviews

Lake Placid  

Jack Wells (Bill Pullman)
Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda)
Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt)
Sheriff Keough (Brendan Gleeson)
Mrs. Bickerman (Betty White)

Directed by Steve Miner Written by David E. Kelley
Rated R for violent creature attacks, related gore, and language
Running Time 82 minutes Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Lake Placid is a horror and comic film with a man-eating crocodile that has bad writing and too many corny sequences for it to be a good summer movie. However, Lake Placid does have its moments of excitement, fun, and chuckles. The film opens with the mysterious death of a research scuba diver in a lake in Maine. This event brings all the characters into the story to solve the mystery. There is the local sheriff (Gleeson), Fish and Game Warden (Pullman), a paleontologist (Fonda), and a scientist (Platt) who is obsessed with crocodiles. After more attacks, deaths, numerous arguments, and the introduction of Mrs. Bickerman (White), the crocodile is discovered. The characters then draw in the questions surrounding the crocodile, like why is it in Maine, and how did it get there, but these questions are never answered or fulfilled in the movie. All we are left with is a showdown between people vs. crocodile.

The crocodile used is computer generated or a puppet. Creative effects master Stan Winston (Men in Black, An American Werewolf in London) does the effects. I believe by using computer-generated effects crocodile works better in action sequences. Another film that work well with computer generated crocodiles was the 1996 action hit Eraser. The writing was the film's biggest weakness. When I learned that David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal) wrote Lake Placid I was surprised. The dialogue in his other works is strong and consistent, but in Lake Placid it was very vague and cheesy.

The overall acting in the film was also ineffective. Oliver Platt and Brendan Gleeson are okay, but I don’t know why these two actors would be involved in a movie like this. Bill Pullman isn't believable at all as the tough Fish and Game warden. Betty White delivers a different type of role as a foul-mouthed old lady who fed the crocodile. The scenes with Betty White are the best parts of the film. The worst is Bridget Fonda; she is awful. I really thought that she got her career back on track after doing so well last year in A Simple Plan. However, she just ran into another pothole with poor performance in Lake Placid. She is so annoying that in the first 30 minutes into the film you want the crocodile to eat her.

Overall, Lake Placid is not that good of a film, but it does have its enjoyable moments in addition to the scene stealing by Betty White.

Report Card Grade: C-

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