Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lake Placid - 1999

"Lake Placid" - 1999
Dir. by Steve Miner - 1 hr. 22 min.

Theatrical Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

"Lake Placid" is not a good movie.  It's not even a good bad movie.  It's schlock, padded out by Betty White and Oliver Platt being their awesome selves in the time they have to do so, and there's also a thirty-foot crocodile that bites the heads off of things.  Is that enough to carry an eighty-minute film?

In a lake in rural Maine, Sheriff Keough (Brendan Gleeson) and some monosyllabic Fish & Game officer are out on a lake, investigating a disturbance.  The officer gets chomped in half (and is shown as half a man), which brings in all the weirdos to investigate.  This includes Jack Wells (another Fish & Game representative, played by Bill Pullman), Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda, playing a paleontologist), and Hector Cyr (Platt, playing a wealthy mythology professor obsessed with crocodiles).  And together, they must track down this oversized croc.

On a first viewing, the important things to take away are that Oliver Platt is rad in a bottle, no matter how awful the material he has to work with is, and that this is the film where people started to realize that Betty White was still really, really funny.  She had been largely doing TV shows for duration of the 90s, and her foul-mouthed turn here was a genuine shock, considering that she'd more recently been known for playing a good-natured ditz on "Golden Girls."  Other things to note: people once considered Bridget Fonda a movie star, Bill Pullman can be very forgettable, and that it's kind of fun to watch a giant crocodile eat cows, bears, and chomp the head off of a police officer cleanly.

Unfortunately, I had seen this movie before, and it definitely doesn't hold up to a second viewing.  Fonda is super-annoying, Pullman's aw shucks routine is slightly less annoying.  And schlock only works when it's not ironic (or you have a director with both ungodly skills and a real affinity for this sort of material, like Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino, who can elevate cheesy material into something more substantial).  Once you get past Platt's and White's performances, it's apparent "Lake Placid" was assembled and constructed entirely on auto-pilot.

But at least it's short, so "Lake Placid" has that going for it.

1.5 / 5  - TV

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