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A review of Lake Placid
by J. D. Rummel

I am a sucker for these kinds of movies. From the instant I saw the trailer, with divers facing something horrible in the murky waters, I knew that I would see this one.

Director: Steve Miner

Stars: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Betty White

Rating: R

Release: 07-16-1999

Time: 82 minutes

Buy Movie at The flick opens with a scuba diver getting chomped in half by something in the waters of a large lake in Maine. The fast-paced film is soon overflowing with characters lining up as a snack for the lake monster. Quickly the monster is revealed as a giant crocodile. Fun and fear ensues as Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Brendan Gleeson, and Oliver Platt run about on the lake attempting to find the big reptile.

Lake Placid offers polished, witty dialog, supplied by the incredibly prolific David E. Kelly (I think Kelly hit Stephen King with the van so he could usurp the title of Fastest Scribe Under The Sun). The film also features impressive special effects from Stan Winston (Jurassic Park, The Relic) and loads of seat grabbing, oh-God-it's-gonna-bite tension. The principles all turn in solid performances and Oliver Platt is especially effective as an eccentric millionaire that gets his kicks hanging out with crocodilians. Equally powerful is Betty White as an old woman who lives on the lake.

Yet, for all the right ingredients, Lake Placid sort of stalls out. It is generally well-directed, but the writer can't get out of his TV story mode. The quirkiness that makes Kelly's small screen creations so compelling appears just glib and one dimensional in the theatre. When an audience sees people that size in front of them, there has to be some greater depth of character and reality to complement the budget. Despite the excellent efforts of Fonda and Platt, the script prevents characters from really changing as the movie progresses to its finish. Nor does the climax really get us involved. The conclusion fails to drive home any ideas and seems to just thrash about. At no time does the writer suggest nor make any statements about what we should be thinking regarding what we have witnessed.

On the surface, Lake Placid is exciting, but it isn't very deep.