Reviewed by: Debbie James
I’m not sure whether the producers intended “Lake Placid” to be a serious or campy movie as there are moments of each scattered throughout. It is not nearly as frightening and and believable as “Jaws”, although there are similar scenes, nor is it as suspenseful, fun, or campy as 1990’s “Tremors” (featuring giant, worm-like desert-burrowing creatures).
When it is discovered that a gigantic man-eating creature is living in a remote Maine lake, a crew assembles to investigate. There’s game warden Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson), New York City museum paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda), and crocodile expert Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt), a rich, eccentric professor who idolizes crocodiles and claims they are more deified than Jesus in some cultures. Mrs. Delores Bickerman (Betty White), is the only apparent lake resident. She’s a newly widowed, somewhat crazy, foul-mouthed senior citizen who’s been keeping the crocodile as a pet.
The sherriff wants to kill the creature since he witnessed it killing his deputy. The warden, however, wants to first figure out exactly what they’re dealing with. The crocodile expert wants to take it alive, and of course, both the women are against killing it, too. Realizing that they’re faced with a thirty-foot long, man-eating Asian crocodile, they then try to come to an agreement what to do with it.
The movie has some beautifully photographed scenery and aerial sequences in the beginning, a few instances of witty dialogue, and some good crocodile effects by special effects master Stan Winston, but unfortunately a few great scenes aren’t enough to make a good movie. The whole premise seems laughable. An Asian crocodile is living in a Maine lake! One can assume it might have gotten there by being tossed in by a bored pet owner, but how could it survive long enough to grow to a length of 30-feet?!
And then there’s the issue of the team assembled for the investigation. Why is a fussy city girl who hates the remote outdoors chosen to be on the team? The affair/break up with her boss just isn’t a good enough reason. Next, the crocodile expert just shows up and injects himself into the investigation. Is that really how teams are formed?
Finally, the most ridiculous aspect of the movie is the utter stupidity of the characters. They continually stand at the water’s edge, even after witnessing the crocodile eating several people and animals, and don’t seem to be afraid to camp close to the lake, take their small boat out on the lake hunting for evidence, or even scuba dive!
Objectionable material present: About a dozen f-words are spoken, along with two dozen various uses of the Lord’s name in vain, and about two dozen other swear words and colorful phrases. Several people and animals are killed by the crocodile with graphic, gory details; two instances of fist-fighting with, or slapping someone; a character jokingly describes a murder that was committed; and the team’s attempt to kill the crocodile is both violent and gory. Some sexual comments are made but nothing is shown, we hear a man urinating, and some alcohol use occurs.