Wednesday, May 11, 2011

REVIEW: Lake Placid (1999)

You know what’s great about summertime? The sun is out. The beaches look tempting enough to skip school and work for. The girls all wear less clothes. You sweat like a fountain. And sometimes…you get eaten by giant killer crocodiles inexplicably residing in lakes owned by crazy old women. Wait, what?

Director: Steve Miner
Starring: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Brandon Gleeson

"What, are we all museum bigots here in Maine?"
-Bridget Fonda

Yes, Lake Placid, that classic movie about stupid people getting slaughtered by a big crocodile. With a semi-well-known cast of B-grade actors and also Betty White, this movie got some press back in the day and was a pretty big hit in theaters, despite getting mostly shit from the critics. But is this big, dumb monster movie stupid or…really stupid? Let’s take a look.

The film starts off quietly, serenely on a lake with some guys fishing. Nothing wrong here, right? Well, only if you don’t think a guy’s legs getting bitten off by a crocodile underwater is a big deal. In which case, everything’s peachy.

He could still be OK.

So yeah, this bloody spectacle gets the attention of some scientist organization all the way in New York when an ancient looking tooth is found in the remains of the diver. So…what, the monster is losing its baby teeth? Or was that diver really so rock-hard that the tooth just fell out of his mouth like that? Yeah, it’s stupid, but then, we’ve got bigger things to worry about. Like our leading bitch played by Bridget Fonda, who is not a conniving, murder-friendly wife this time but instead something even worse: an insecure scientist who does nothing but complain, complain, COMPLAIN. About EVERYTHING! I can sort of understand why she’s pissed off, as the guy she’s having an affair with wanted to see some other bimbo, but god, the way she’s carrying on it’s like she’s a toddler with a soiled diaper.

I’m serious. Look at the scenes after she gets to Maine; it continues there too. Some cops say some stuff about how she works for a museum and she gets all defensive. They want her to go out on a boat with them and it’s like they told her she had to be a slave and work in the Sahara Desert pushing giant stone rocks for a year. God, it’s like she’s…no, I won’t say ‘on her period,’ because that’s an insult to women everywhere. This…is something entirely new. I believe we have discovered a hypersensitive breed of woman entirely removed from the normal one. We will call them the LEGION OF SUPER-BITCHES.

So, uh, yeah, she meets Brandon Gleeson, who plays the town sheriff, and Bill Pullman, who plays a random rugged male well equipped to fight a monster in a B-horror movie, and together they form a power trio of annoyance as they go out on the lake and listen to Fonda bitch some more. God, she even bitches about the tents they have to sleep in. There’s one scene where she slaps Gleeson in the face like twice for accidentally getting her wet or something. Slaps him in the face. UGH. Why can’t the crocodile kill her first? In what cruel world does this lady have to be the main character?

Alright, alright, so then they’re introduced to the one good thing about this movie – and it’s a major plus – Betty White as Delores, this batshit crazy old lady who lives by the lake and raises farm animals. She says she killed her husband when he was suffering from a terminal illness. The movie…just kind of throws this at us and then the scene ends. So…OK then.

Then we’re introduced to more diabetes fuel when we see our next character, Hector, played by Oliver Platt. This guy is apparently a rich crocodile hunter, or something, who likes to swim with them rather then…actually hunt them. Apparently, according to Fonda, he thinks they’re godly creatures because they’ve never bitten him specifically. Well, have you ever considered the fact that they don’t bite you because they smell the toxic annoyance running through your blood like poison? Might be a factor. And godly creatures? Well I guess if you can claim Jedi as a religion these days, claiming that crocodiles are godly creatures isn’t so ridiculous after all.

So they all form a big old group of crocodile hunters, which is confusing to me, as I have no idea why so many people are jumping at the chance to go to this backwater Maine lake just for the possibility of maybe finding something legendary and unique literally right after it happens, like they have NOTHING ELSE they could be doing, but then, hey, I guess I’m just too dumb to understand the complex inner workings of a group that lets Bridget Fonda hang out with them. Must be something in the water – oh wait, it is. It’s something in the water literally comes out in the blink of an eye while nobody is looking and bites off a guy’s head.

Wait, what? Rewind that. Let’s watch that again.

OK, so Fonda falls off the boat because she’s a clumsy idiot, and they have to go save her. Then they go pick up Platt too, and when everyone is finally on board…wham! No more head for random disposable deputy. What the hell? How could a giant crocodile get THAT FUCKING CLOSE and not be heard or seen? How…why…who…HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? Did they all suffer a simultaneous spell of deafness and blindness? Does the crocodile just have a homing beacon so he could aim precisely for that guy’s head and slip back into the water before anyone could do anything about it? Or – wait, I got it; I really got it. Maybe the crocodile is actually a ninja. NINJA CROC! That sounds like a Newgrounds game from the early 2000s.

So, in other news, Brandon Gleeson is depressed that one of his deputies got eaten by the crocodile, although really I think he’s just pining for the Harry Potter movies to come and revive his career. Platt tries to comfort him by telling him a story about a dream he had as a kid about his head being separated from his body and used as a soccer ball by the neighborhood bullies, which is, I guess, supposed to comfort Gleeson for his loss…I got nothing there; that one’s too weird even for me to touch. Let’s just skip to the next scene.

Gleeson doesn’t take comfort to this (surprised?), but then he gets caught in one of Platt’s traps, which does not make him any happier of a man. This results in Gleeson chasing Platt around like Elmer Fudd chasing Buggs Bunny. It’s completely stupid and makes it even harder to take this movie seriously, but what happens next is a testament to everything wonderful in this world. I warn you, viewers – prepare for this scene, or else you might end up unable to handle how ungodly awesome it truly is. This, folks…this is what is good in life.

I am of course talking about a scene where a bear fights a crocodile. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING.

You are looking at the crowning moment of AWESOME in this entire film.

So Bill Pullman, frustrated with the fact that he hasn’t done anything in this movie yet despite getting top billing, jumps in and saves Bridget Fonda as the crocodile drags the bear off into the water for some, uh, lunchtime. Then the movie decides that all the sudden, Fonda and Pullman like one another romantically as she fixes the wounds he got from a hard day’s croc-fighting. Where did this come from? I don’t know; I guess anyone who isn’t a crazy psychotic killing roommate is an upgrade for her. Or maybe she just fell for the old Lone Starr charm.

Works every time on any lady!

Speaking of which, Bridget Fonda’s acting here is just horrible. She constantly pauses between lines, and while doing that she changes her facial expression at MINIMUM five times before her next line. Did the director just have an incredible tendency for mood swings? Was he bipolar? “No, uh, Bridget, try an angry face now. No, that won’t work. How about a sad, confused face? No…”

While that awkwardly forced romance is going on, Brandon Gleeson finds out that Betty White lied before about her husband and has been working in cohorts all along with the crocodiles that ate him for the last 6 years. Yes, folks. You are now looking at the world’s first and last old lady-slash-crocodile cohort team. TREMBLE IN FEAR! But seriously, what sense does this make? The old lady is working with the crocodiles that killed her husband? Why? Next you’ll be telling me it was all a conspiracy the whole time to kill him together! I smell a Hitchcockian mystery-thriller! Call David Fincher!

Happy birthday Mr. Croc! Here's your present!

So, yeah, they place her under house arrest after seeing her feed a cow to the crocodile. Because animal rights need to be preserved! Betty White, in an amusing twist, starts calling them all names as they put her on lockdown. I don’t know about you, but I think “Officer Fuckmeat” is a very poetic way to express one’s feelings. Touching.

Meanwhile, Platt and his new cop girlfriend go on a helicopter ride while Platt tries to find the crocodile. He gets in too far over his head and the crocodile tries to eat their helicopter:

"Yum, a snack! I love helicopters, even when they're storebought and not mother's homemade kind..."

Then we get our climax, as everyone decides they have to kill these crocs before anyone else gets hurt. I love how even though Gleeson and the others gave Betty White all that crap about animal rights and mistreating her cows by feeding them to the croc, they have ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM with using one of the cows as bait to lure it out in the open. You hypocrites, that’s like if Richard Nixon went on tirades about how people shouldn’t steal. You goddamned hypocrites.

But anyway, Platt and Fonda both think they should SAVE the poor defenseless creatures. Well gee, why didn’t I think of that? It’s not like the croc actually killed anybody…oh, wait, it did and you’re both idiots. Why doesn’t that surprise me in the least? So they run around and Fonda falls off the truck they’re on – seriously, can’t this broad quit falling off shit for one second so she doesn’t have to be rescued? – and the croc chases her into the water, where she evades him by…hiding behind a tree. Yeah, because there’s NO WAY a crocodile would EVER think to look there! You might as well put up a fake wall with a tunnel drawn on it and see if he goes through it.

But, surprise, the croc finds her and chases her until it gets caught in the broken down helicopter like some fatal neck-brace. The animal rights pussies complain, so Pullman just shoots it with a dart gun and puts it to sleep, but then OH NO, there was actually TWO crocodiles this whole time! Gleeson immediately blows it up with a rocket launcher and…nobody complains even one bit about that. Huh. Those fuckin’ double standards, right? Gotta love ‘em.

This movie is stupid. Really stupid, in fact! Bridget Fonda is a pain in the ass, most of the characters are morons, the plot is full of holes and the only thing even close to redeeming any of this is Betty White as the old lady. They should have just made this whole movie about her! Maybe then it would have been at least a little more entertaining. As is, the only thing this movie is good for is taking it to Gatorland to use as food for the gators. And that’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Pictures copyright of their original owners, although I took all the snapshots from the actual movie.