Worth A Look: 24.39%
Pretty Bad: 25.2%
Total Crap: 19.51%
8 reviews, 75 user ratings
by Dust For Eyes
What was David Kelly thinking? The creator of Ally McBeal (among other things), the king of all that is quirky and introspective decides to make a film about a killer ultra-mega-mecha-reptile? Ally McBeal meets Ally Gator.How Kelly was going to handle this meeting between All That Is Thin and All That Is Teeth created a genuine interest in this film. Actually it is a crocodile, not an alligator. A slight difference - flatter snout and the teeth thing - and it is doing things with a slight difference that Kelly has in mind with 'Lake Placid'.
"Too much to fit in one movie"
Kelly (Fonda) is an anthropologist at a museum in New York when things turn on their head. No, a crocodile does not come rampaging through the museum. Her co-worker boyfriend dumps her for her best friend who also works with her. That will sound familiar to the Ally McBeal watchers.
Before things turn ugly, her recently designated EX-boyfriend 'suggests' (i.e. forces) her to go up to some lake in Maine where a diver was found having been attacked by an animal of unknown variety. There was a tooth found and maybe she can identify it. She is more of an in-doors kind of researcher. This is not her brief, but with the break-up she needs to get away from the immediate area. So she gives it a go.
She heads up to Smallsville, Maine, and meets up with the Local Sheriff Type: I (Gleeson) and Rugged Handsome Hero / Love Interest Mk.: IV (Pullman) - the local ranger boss. They head off to the lake with a few others to see if they can identify the animal responsible for the attack. Before they are sure what is the animal responsible, the seriously obnoxious, Psycho-Scientist/Wacko-I'm-On-The-Side-Of-The-Croc Version: 4.7 (Platt) roars on to the scene flying a croc paint-job helicopter. He says that it is definitely a croc responsible for the attack and he wants to have an encounter with the magnificent animal.
It was going to be interesting to see what Kelly would do once he was able to stretch his wings a bit and make a film.
This film was not what people would have been expecting. That is something, it seems, Kelly likes doing.
Apart from the unexpected, what was he trying to achieve?
This film has the expected killer creature clichés lifted shot-for-shot from horror films of the past. Kelly then adds some character depth and some genuine humour.
Should they go together?
Would you want them together?
It is all a bit mis-matched like ice cream with snow peas.
This film has horror of a fair standard, good humour, and characters with a bit of depth. All good things on their own, but together you just want more of one, and leave the other two aside.
The choice of director does not help. Miner has done the expected line of slasher films. The second and third parts of 'Friday the Thirteenth', the rather good if I recall 'Warlock', and the recent 20th anniversary edition of 'Halloween.' To my fell-off-the-chair astonishment he has also done 'Chicago Hope', 'The Practice' (where he would have met up with Kelly), 'Dawson's Creek' and 'The Wonder Years' (no, I can not believe it either - I am not making this up).
If you wanted a clash-of-styles director for your clash-of-styles film, you would hire Miner.
This film has over-stretched itself and fails (just) to mix these poles apart styles.
There are some good things about this film.
The cinematography of Daryn Okada shows off the beauty of the New England area, there are some genuinely funny lines that Kelly has penned, Fonda doesn't do too bad a job as Kelly, the croc design and effects are good, and Betty White as Mrs. Bickerman is fun.
It is not enough though.'Lake Placid' is an amusing, not-scary-at-all horror, with reasonably written characters. If you want any of those features though, pick one at a time. See a film that does one of those things one at a time and to a much higher standard.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1554&reviewer=166
originally posted: 10/26/99 23:34:57