Lake Placid (1999)

Movie Title: Lake Placid

Year Released: 1999

Rated: R

Runtime: 1h 22min

Genre: Action, Comedy, Horror

Director: Steve Miner

Writer: David E. Kelley

Starring: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, David Lewis, Tim Dixon, Natassia Malthe, Mariska Hargitay, Meredith Salenger, Jed Rees, Richard Leacock,

Review: When it's discovered that a tranquil New England lake has a rather large, toothy, and ferocious visitor, a team is assembled to investigate. Armed with first-rate technology, high-powered weaponry, and silly, sneering sarcasm, this mismatched group of goofy-balls may have bigger problems on their hands than dealing with a 30-foot prehistoric crocodile. It's survival of the snarkiest when you boat, swim, or dive in Lake Placid.

I can recall seeing Lake Placid at my local theater back in the summer of 1999 and really enjoying it. I remember at the time that critics and audiences didn't quite care for this silly and scary horror comedy, but that's their problem. This is a fun, funny movie that doesn't take itself seriously and embraces its absurd premise wholeheartedly. After my most-recent re-watch I was thoroughly entertained and honestly enjoyed it more than before.

When a 30-foot crocodile starts eating more than alarm clocks, Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson), Fish and Game officer Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), and paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) are called to investigate and determine how to deal with this mammoth monster. It doesn't take long for things to get ridiculously over-the-top with the biting humor and shocking scares. And then when mythology professor and crocodile enthusiast Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) joins them, things really get silly. And it's great! The cast is having a blast with this movie. They all know it's ridiculous and enjoy hamming it up as these eccentric characters dealing with a far-fetched situation and deal with it through insults and arguments that certainly kept me laughing during its runtime. And I'm sure for some folks they may all come off as irritating, but that's kind of the point. At least I see it that way.

And let's not forget about the treasure that is Betty White. Her character, Mrs. Bickerman, is a foul-mouthed farmer's wife that has no qualms about telling people where they can stick it. She's hilarious! You just want to hug her and have her insult you at the same time.

As for the crocodile... it's huge, intimidating, and looks just like the real deal thanks to special effects maestro Stan Winston and his crew. Practical effects are the name of the game, folks. If it looks real, the actors along with the audience are going to buy what this movie is selling.There are times when a little bit of CGI is used, but it's used appropriately and sparingly, and it actually holds up well.

Lake Placid has a fast, quip-heavy script from David E. Kelley that's funny and frightening in all the right places. It's a classic creature feature that is made to get the audience to chuckle and scream with delight from scene to scene, which it accomplishes quite well thanks to veteran horror director Steve Miner at the helm.

I've always enjoyed Lake Placid. It's one of those hidden gems that feels like it was made just for me. Horror comedy movies are hard to pull off and this one does it quite easily... and that's no crock! If you have an appetite for killer crocodiles, endless shots of sarcasm, and Betty White barking out four letter words, then take a trip to Lake Placid.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Betty White's character is told that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) would be interested to learn of her alleged mistreatment of her cows. In reality, White is a major on-air spokeswoman for PETA.


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