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Lake Placid (1999) – Movie Review

Lake Placid movie poster

Written by: David E. Kelley
Directed by: Steve Miner
Starring: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White

My Advice: Wait and Rent It.

Sheriff Keogh (Gleeson) is a man with a problem. Namely that a fish and game warden just got bit in half on his watch. All the excitement brings not only another warden (Pullman), but a paleontologist (Fonda), and the obligatory half-crazed rich person (Platt). When everybody’s assembled, it’s obvious that whatever is in the lake is really old…and really hungry.

This movie comes from a genre of film that’s kind of hard to get balanced: a fun horror movie. You know what I mean–you have The Exorcist at one end of the spectrum and Army of Darkness at the other. This one strives toward the latter, and to its credit, it makes some large strides. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who’s read or seen anything having to do with this flick that’s the creature in question is a bloody great crocodile. All of the Stan Winston creature FX are pretty nice to behold, and I was pleased to find that the beast was not only scientifically feasible but explained over the course of the film. What a relief. The humor portions of the film were…well, humorous. Also a welcome change. The dialogue was fast and witty and at no point did the conflicting genres strangle each other to death. Thank David Kelley for this, who manages to make a “When Animals Attack” film worth watching.

[ad#longpost]The acting is pretty much standard with all the archetypes brought out and paraded around. Pullman is his usual Leading Man self. Fonda gets to be the extremely frazzled City Girl. Platt is the Pseudo Nutcase. For the most part, Brendan Gleeson is the standout of the crowd, as the put-upon Sheriff Keogh. He may not be the quickest match to strike, but he’s a decent guy who just wants to keep the peace. Good job. Also, casting Betty White in her role was a master stroke.

The film’s major slip-up is a lame romantic angle to the script between Pullman and Fonda. No spoilers there, people, you could smell it in the trailers. It’s hamhanded and obvious and it made the film lose points. Other than that, it’s not a bad little flick, although there’s nothing in it to prescribe it for the big screen. A solid rental to be sure.

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