Director: Steve Miner
I would never have paid to see this movie if it wasn’t for good old Harry Knowles, whose “Ain’t it Cool News” website is THE place to go for film obsessed geeks like myself. I mean, come on, the movie looked horrible! But Harry assured he had fun watching it, and you know what: he’s right! “Lake Placid” is an inept, near-retarded mess of a movie, but it’s actually fairly entertaining. You have to understand that this is actually a comedy; it just happens to revolve around a giant crocodile! There’s no chance in hell a lake in Maine (not even Lake Placid – why the title?) is home to a 30 foot Asian crocodile, of course, but the filmmakers are aware of that. Director Steve Miner (who last helmed the painfully lame “Halloween H20”) and screenwriter David E. Kelley (creator of “Ally McBeal”, one of the most clever and hilarious shows on TV) are aware that this is a silly plot, but it’s ultimately just an excuse for their smart-ass characters to throw attitude and cynicism at each other.
Bill Pullman plays an arrogant warden who’s called to the lake to investigate the gruesome death of a scuba diver. He’s joined by the badass local sheriff (Brendan Gleeson), who’s kinda the movie’s straight man, pissed at the others’ constant use of sarcastic repartee. Then there’s the gorgeous, funny Bridget Fonda as a neurotic, Ally McBealish New York paleontologist and Oliver Platt as a very rich and eccentric mythology professor who believes crocodiles are godly. The film follows the tired formula of the genre spawned by “Jaws”, as the four wander the lake and its shore, looking for the croc. They keep risking their lives for nothing, and Miner’s retarded direction makes it impossible to be scared by the predictable attacks or to believe in the phony attraction between Pullman and Fonda. But that doesn’t matter, really.
The fun of the movie is Kelley’s laugh-out-loud hilarious dialogue, as each character keeps making smart-ass remarks which are almost always topped by the others’ response. And then there’s the insane little touches, like Golden Girl Betty White as a foul-mouthed, psychotic old lady who feeds cows to the mutant reptile, or how Fonda keeps getting severed heads thrown at her! “Lake Placid” is far from being a great film, but it’s a guilty pleasure for sure.