In fact, the above alone could count as a uber-succinct review of Lake Placid, but let’s dive beneath the brackish waters and explore a bit more, eh?
Maine has never been so mountainous (as cheapo movie aficionados, we recognize the locale as obviously British Columbia) and for a movie set in New England, there are no Peter Griffin accents, only central casting types.
There’s an attack in Black Lake, and the animal perp left a calling card: a tooth. A paleontologist (Bridget Fonda) is brought in from New York’s American Museum of Natural History to investigate, because as we know from the tour manager in This is Spinal Tap — nearby Boston is “not much of a college town.”
That sets off the Big Apple city slicker / hick cop dynamic, but not only is Fonda’s Kelly ill-prepared for the bush, she’s terrified of of the outdoors (seems like a first for a paleontologist).
A mythology expert, a croc-obsessed shyster Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt of Chicago Med) donates his time and equipment to help get to the bottom of…well, the mystery and um, Black Lake (“they were going to call it Lake Placid, but it turns out that already exists.”).
But what holds Lake Placid back, is the weird tonal dynamics. Sure, there are some amusing tongue-in-cheek humor, in keeping with the kind of thing you might get from John Sayles (Alligator), but it’s more goofy than gallows.
The cast, which includes Bill Pullman as a Fish and Game official, Mariska Hargitay as “the other woman” in New York and even Betty White, is game…but things get silly and sluggish.
Lake Placid has one fantastic set piece, which is not worth spoiling here, but is worth half a star in of itself.
**3/4 (out of 5)