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Comic horror which undeservedly bombed in theaters
on February 17, 2000
Written by David E. Kelley, the mastermind behind television's Ally McBeal and The Practice (both of which won Emmys in the "best of" categories last year), _Lake Placid_ is a comic horror film about the search for a giant crocodile, inexplicably living in a landlocked lake in upstate New York.
When a diver is eaten alive in the opening moments, by some unknown creature, the local game warden (Pullman) teams up with a paleontologist (Fonda) from New York to find the beast. Add to this mix an eccentric millionaire philanthropist with a penchant for swimming with "crocs" (Platt), and the local sheriff (Brendan Gleeson), who thinks the man is nuts, and you've got the recipe for one of the more underrated of last summer's films.
This is a horror film and it can, at times, get quite messy (see the opening attack sequence, for example). The special effects work is about what you'd expect in such a film, although with the advent of computer graphics, it's a lot easier to bring a realistic giant crocodile to life. Surprisingly, though, there are few deaths in the film.
The emphasis is more on suspenseful moments of the Jaws variety, in which we wonder whether unlucky swimmers are about to become lunch. And, there are even a couple of gross, but funny moments in the film, as when an eccentric old lady (played by Betty White) offers random farm animals as sacrifices to the croc.
But the real emphasis in the film is on the humor and there are some great conversations and arguments among the film's characters, particularly Platt's whacko croc-swimmer and Brendan Gleeson's sheriff (in one of the more unusual bits of casting, as the Irish Gleeson is forced to adopt an American accent, which tends to slip in some of the more heated moments). And White's character is also played for laughs (you'll be surprised at some of the inventive curses she comes up with).
The film wasn't particularly well-received when first released last summer, but luckily, with its release on video, this can be remedied. This is not a film for everyone's tastes, but if, like me, you occasionally hunger for a "giant-animal-runs-amuck" film, _Lake Placid_ more than fills the bill.