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LAKE PLACID

SYNOPSIS:
In an otherwise quiet lake in the Maine wilderness, a couple of gruesome fatalities lead to the discovery of a 30 foot crocodile with a matching appetite. Local sheriff Keough (Brendan Gleeson) calls in Fish and Game department warden Wells (Bill Pullman) to investigate, while New York-based palaeontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) is dispatched by her museum on her first field assignment to the lake. Completing the quartet searching for the creature is eccentric millionaire Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) who attempts to mastermind the capturing of the beast.

"Here's a monster movie done right for a change. It's 82 minutes long, features a lively cast enjoying themselves and has the good sense not to take itself seriously for a moment. Forget complicated back stories and detailed character analysis. Quick sketches will do because we're down by the lake and that thing's dining off divers - we don't need to know any more. What makes this such fun is the snappy script by writer-producer David E. Kelley who laces this traditional creature-feature with enough zingy lines to keep it humming all the way without being an outright parody. Take the delicate scene where the intrepid crocodile hunters ask the old lady who lives by the lake about her husband's recent death. Fonda sensitively asks "was he ill...was he sick..." before Gleeson completes the sentence with "was he swallowed?" The slanging match between Gleeson and Platt is especially entertaining while the Pullman - Fonda romance is gladly stifled until after the croc's taken his final mouthful. I liked this monster movie which looks fabulous in wide screen, has excellent Stan Winston creature effects and is directed with vigour by the steady hand of Steve Miner who knows a thing or two about dangerous lakes after handling the body counts in Friday The 13 Parts 2 and 3. Chalk this one up as an enjoyable piece of B-grade trash and approach without any cinematic snobbery for maximum enjoyment."
Richard Kuipers

"Lake Placid is not deep - but as Richard says, it's a croc full of trashy fun, up there with Anaconda in my book, possibly better. Certainly funnier. The sense of humour is easy to take and the lines are built to top each other in a growing tower of feisty jabs. Pullman's face is always pulled much the same way, but Fonda whimpers and sneers and demures and screams her way through a dozen emotional sequences with credible dimension, and everyone else tags along with juicy characterisations. The creature in the lake gets the best musical lines, though, with a dread-full, bottom heavy set of chords right at the beginning of the movie, which is a part I wouldn't want you to miss; it's a terrific piece of psychological cinema set-up (and commendable musicianship to boot). The fabulous scenery gives us a nice little trip into the Maine countryside, all from the safety of the cinema seat. Perfect for Saturday afternoon, with or without a date."
Andrew L. Urban

"The special effects aren't bad, but as a monster movie Lake Placid is, well, placid. Barely anyone dies, suspense is minimal, and since the monster poses no threat to the outside world, I'm not sure why the characters are even worrying. (Why not just stick up a sign by the lake: 'Beware Of Crocodile'?) In its defense, the film never really pretends to be a thriller. It's closer to some of the comic movies Howard Hawks made in the '60s, such as Hatari! and Man's Favorite Sport, where outdoor adventures (like fishing or big game hunting) are just a counterpoint to the ensemble acting and sexually charged banter. Viewed in this light, Lake Placid is semi-watchable, if you can put up with the annoying screenplay by David E. Kelley. I've never seen his TV show Ally McBeal (life is too short) but any number of American sitcoms use the same recipe for naughty sophistication, combining a smirky, squeaky-clean surface with a large dose of 'political incorrectness.' One typical running gag has a sweet old lady talking dirty: 'If I had a dick I'd tell you to suck it.' The occasional moments of blood and gore are likewise played for laughs, another source of mild titillation. Though the appealing cast squeeze quite a lot out of the thin characters and the thin humour, it's a bit depressing to see them wasting their talents like this - especially Bridget Fonda, who has to embody Kelley's horrendous 'post-feminist' idea of a career woman, a breathless ditz who freaks out every two seconds ('Are these ticks? I have a thing about ticks') and spends a lot of time screaming and hyperventilating. Frankly, I hoped the crocodile would eat her as soon as possible. No such luck."
Jake Wilson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LAKE PLACID (M)
(US)

CAST: Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White.

DIRECTOR: Steve Miner

PRODUCER: David E. Kelley, Michael Pressman

SCRIPT: David E. Kelley

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daryn Okada

EDITOR: Marshall Harvey, Paul Hirsch

MUSIC: John Ottman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Willett

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 28, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE (Rental): March 8, 2000
VIDEO RELEASE (Sell-Thru): September 5, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment







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