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Lake Placid

Starring Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White
Screenplay by David E. Kelley
Directed by Steve Miner

IN SHORT: Popcorn Flick for Grownups Number 2. <tee hee> [Rated [R], 88 minutes]

Cranky has a friend who works for a major teevee film critic. She told me that she thought the Blair Witch Project (no, you're not in the wrong review. Cranky is about to make a point) was a terrifiying flick. Cranky was bored silly by it. When it came down to seeing a scary flick twice, she headed for another screening of Lake Placid 'cuz it has more shock value, more laughs, more of everything a grown-up wants in a thrill flick. Lake Placid isn't a slice 'n' dice horrorshow, though there's plenty of chop chop in its brief 88 minute run (which translates to about 83 minutes when you ignore the title credits), but the story is solid and 83 good minutes is much preferable to 2 hours of tripe.

Severed heads and heavy duty sarcasm walk hand in hand up in the boonies of Maine, as big time New York Paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) is dispatched by her boss (Adam Arkin) to check out a "prehistoric tooth" taken from the corpse of a fish and game official who died in an unpredictably horrible manner. When she gets there she finds local sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson), whom everybody assumes is a stupid git, and another fish and game official, Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), who doesn't like her much, either (the dislike is mutual, and you know what that means...). But Kelly has good reasons why she doesn't want to head back to New York, which I won't reveal, and she stays with the growing investigation. Y'see, it's more than a tooth. There's this thing in "Lake Placid" that's chomping silly humans in two. The sheriff thinks it's a bear, but all these heads (human, animal, whatever) keep popping up at the most inopportune moments.

By the time you've seen the last of 'em, the thinking is that the "thing" is a crocodile. Cranky thought the same thing as the sheriff (which says a lot about our mental capabilities), which is crocodiles don't live in Maine. Once the creature is seen, and this sucker is a 30 foot long croc of the Asian variety, the question is posed: "how did an Asian croc migrate to North America?" Cranky was waiting for the Godzilla joke, but it never came. All the better, cuz Lake Placid is one funny monster. Not the croc. The script, by David E. Kelly (known for his teevee creations Chicago Hope, Picket Fences, Ally McBeal and The Practice) lays on the sarcasm with a trowel, and balances the sharp humor with a healthy dosage of body parts littering the Maine woods.

Add to the investigative mess a professor of mythology (Oliver Platt) who swims with crocodiles and respects them as the ancient Gods they were worshipped as, and the only possible live witness, real life animal activist Betty White. If you didn't know that little fact, now you do. It'll help you appreciate White's character all the more. I'll say nothing more than White is delightful, and Platt continues to come up with warped supporting characters which will linger in your minds, long after the popcorn has passed through other parts of your body.

Lake Placid is a lightweight story, perfect for summertime. What gore there is is appropriate and not exploitative. It is more than offset by the humor in the script. As much comedy as scareflick, Lake Placid is another good grownup popcorn flick; one that will appeal to teens as well ('cuz we all liked gore humor back in them days. Cranky doubts that has changed much)..

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Lake Placid, he would have paid...


Absolutely see it.

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.