Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Movie Review: Lake Placid 3 ½ Stars

David E. Kelley, the TV wunderkind responsible for Ally McBeal, The Practice, Chicago Hope and everything else on television, took time out of his hectic schedule -- probably a weekend -- to bang out the monster joke fest Lake Placid.

A schlocky horror film light on the screams but heavy on the laughs, Lake Placid will surely draw comparisons to Kevin Williamson’s fright-a-thons and the giant snake film Anaconda, but Lake Placid owes more to the campy 1979 Alligator (written by John Sayles.) The effects take a backseat to the comedy, and the jokes come fast and furious and funny.

Game Warden Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda), Sheriff Hank Keogh (Brendon Gleeson) and professor of mythology Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) are all on the trail of a giant man-eating crodilian who is gobbling up tourists in a idyllic Maine lake community. They all have completely different agendas and utterly dislike each other, but not as much as pro-crocodile local yokel Mrs. Dolores Bickerman (Betty White) dislikes the lot of them.

The performances by this terrific cast are deliciously bitchy, a typically Kelley posse of eccentrics and oddballs. Especially over-the-top is Oliver Platt’s Hector Cyr, who is scary crazy as only Oliver Platt could be.

As funny as the movie can be, it is unfortunately not scary in the least. No real chills or harrowing thrills. Actually, there is only a handful of action sequences and a few glimpses of the monster. But, a giant prehistoric alligator and Oliver Platt with a beard is scary enough.

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