Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lake Placid

So what's under the water in that lake deep in the Maine woods? No one is sure what it could be, but a dead and severely mutilated body was found near the shore, and the only clue is a large tooth which appears to be from a prehistoric animal resembling a huge crocodile. Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), the local fish and game warden, is investigating the case when he's assigned a helper, paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda). Kelly generally does office work since she hates the outdoors (a drawback in her line of work) and is recovering from a breakup with one of her co-workers. Jack would just as soon handle this matter without Kelly's help, but with time, the two get used to each other and something beyond a working relationship begins to develop. Meanwhile, Jack and Kelly also have to deal with Sheriff Hank Keogh (Brendan Gleeson), who would like to find the mystery creature and kill it; Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt), a quirky mythology expert who wants to capture and study the beast; and Mrs. Bickerman (Betty White), an eccentric older woman with dubious stories about her missing cattle -- and missing husband. Blending suspense, humor, and romance, Lake Placid was written by David E. Kelley, creator of the popular TV shows Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal and directed by Steve Miner, whose credits range from TV's The Wonder Years to the films Forever Young and Halloween H2O. (all movie guide)

Three words sum up this movie quite nicely: Sarcasm, sarcasm and more sarcasm (oh, and there's a 'big crocodile', too, so I guess that makes 'five' words, total). This movie is a sarcasm-fest from the opening scene to the final moments before the credits roll. Bridget Fonda is surprisingly nimble in balancing her character and delivering cutting, fast and emotional dialog. Fonda is supremely effective as the out-of-her-element female determined to hold her own while Bill Pullman is the right-at-home-laid-back-take-it-easy counter weight with a more subtle sarcastic delivery.

However, for me, the real magic of the story and dialog comes from the interaction and chemistry between Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Platt. It's an absolute treat watching (and hearing) two characters develop through such heavy volleys of rapier like sarcastic wit. It's also amazing watching an actor like Gleeson who has played such serious roles as Hamish Campbell in Braveheart and Frank (the father in the apartment building) in 28 Days Later portray such a hilarious (and sarcastic) straight-man while sounding so American (he's Irish).

The supporting cast includes Meridith Salenger, who was in the 80's flick Dream a Little Dream with the two Coreys (yes, I saw it), and Betty White in a hysterically funny and unexpectedly verbal role, which makes it even more amusing.

This is, yet again, another one of those stop-taking-yourself-so-seriously-and-have-fun movies and if you're not sure if you'd like it, here's a simple test: If you've ever walked into a room dripping wet after being caught in an unexpected downpour and someone said, "Is it raining?" and you replied with something like, "No, it's National Baptism Day," then there's a good chance you'll enjoy, at least, part of this film.


Chris said...

And yet another film made in Canada, on Vancouver Island if memory serves me right. Come on, admit it. You've got a thing for all things Canadian. I can tell ;>)

John Taylor said...

hi chris
You win - my secret is out.