I figured if I’m going to do one “WHAAT?? You haven’t seen that??” movie, why not make it two. And while there were definitely weird alien creatures in The Faculty, I don’t feel like I’ve really done a full fledged creature feature yet. There’ve been some pseudo-monsters that have popped up here and there but this is a horse of a different color. Or Alligator of a different color I suppose. This one was from 1999 when my cinematic freedom was still in it’s fledgling state. For whatever reason I didn’t have cause to ensure this was a megaplex must watch so it just never made it on my list. And though it always looked fun, there have just been enough other movies to keep pushing this one out of the top spot for the last 24 years that I haven’t make viewing it a priority. At least until tonight. All that changed on October 10th. And I’m very ok with that.
I really don’t feel overtly tempted to really walk through the plot of these older movies. I think it’s because at this stage of the game one of two things has happened. You’ve either already seen this one and it’s old news or you have also somehow managed to push this one off time and time again for a near quarter century and you haven’t seen it either. If it’s the former, you don’t need me to walk through the plot and if it’s the latter, far be it from me to foil your streak and ruin the film by marching you through the story. I think if you’re reading this then there’s a good chance our way in the world is at least somewhat comparable and you probably have a pretty solid understanding of what this movie is and probably how it plays out as well. It’s Jaws but on a lake with an alligator. Yep. That’s all you need. The best thing about this movie in my opinion is the cast. Where The Faculty really nailed that 90’s teen nostalgia, Lake Placid hits a number of 90’s who’s who for me in the adult cast. Bill Pullman as a character named Jack feels like how every movie from the 90’s was initially pitched no matter what the movie was. Romantic Comedy? We find ourselves looking at the world through the eyes of our male protagonist…we’ll call him Jack. And he’s played by Bill Pullman. Sign me up. Have you got a family friendly movie about a small creature in a fish out of water type situation? Perhaps a little boy has found a robot dog from the future living in the basement of their new house. His dad, Jack, played by Bill Pullman, will help his son figure out where fido came from and how to get him back to his time. Seriously, Bill Pullman man have played a character named Jack in literally every movie made in the 90’s. It might be one of those Where’s Waldo kind of things that if you really look hard you can find him somewhere in the background of every movie. In this film, he’s a Fish and Wildlife Ranger man. But if you’re going to have him in the film then there has to be an attractive lady for him to accidentally woo. Now that I think of it, Bill Pullman may have been America’s response to Hugh Grant. Just a dreadfully likeable chap who always seems to somehow end up in a relationship at the end of the movie. But in this movie’s case this is where Bridget Fonda would enter. She’s the most 1990 of all the Fonda crew. Her delightfully petite frame, blonde hair and spitfire charm would compliment the sensible sarcasm and quiet nature of Bill Pullman.
Once we have our main cast then this is where it gets fun. Now we get to fill in the supporting roles. I’ll give you that in the 90’s I might not have been apt to bring Brendan Gleeson in as quickly as they did in this film but he’s always a fantastic character actor in anything I’ve seen him. His wit is sharp and he’s a very capable actor in any capacity. He’s a fantastic third wheel to Pullman and Fonda in the first act of the movie. Their combined dialects of witty repartee and sarcastic flair all come together delightfully in a sardonic souffle of 90’s glory. But someone has to enter midway through the second act and shake things up. We need somebody to balance out the bitterness of Gleeson so how about the lovable scamp that is Oliver Platt? That’s all four tires on this comedic vehicle. Lets drive it into the wilderness of Maine and find a big ol alligator! I mean you can’t get much better than this. I was getting flashbacks to my most recent viewing of Tremors just a few weeks ago as I watched this movie. I do find there to be tonally some similarities and the fact that we’re dealing with unpredictable, but wily prehistoric monsters set against a backdrop of colorful characters unsure of what to do with it all seemed to ring true in both instances. But I digress, we’re here for gators not graboids.
This is the Betty White paragraph. Because Betty White gets her own paragraph. I knew she was in this movie. Frankly it’s probably a big part of why I was so comfortable picking this one up off Amazon as a blind buy as well. If Betty White is in your film, it’s automatically worth a purchase. She’s a national treasure, God rest her soul. The woman was amazing in everything she did and I will hear nothing to the contrary. This is no exception. She’s somehow simultaneously one part each of the 4 Golden Girls at once in this movie. She’s seemingly sweet and naive but also hard nosed and no-nonsense. She’s sarcastic and just a bit bawdy. She’s everything you want her to be and so much more. And when you find out she’s been voluntarily feeding the gator for 6 years it’s just the best. Sorry. Spoiler Alert. I know that’s not how those work. After the fact doesn’t help you. But it’s also a 24 year old movie and I can’t say that it really spoils much. There’s nothing about this movie that’s really a surprise. It’s a great balance of creepy creature moments where somebody is dangling in the water and witty banter amongst sexually frustrated adults camping in the woods of Maine trying to catch a giant reptile. Betty White being smack dab in the center of that, and telling a sheriff “if I had a dick, this is where I would tell you to suck it” is cinematic gold, Jerry. GOLD! Hearing that come out of her antique lips is pure magic. It’s hilarious but she also executes the line so well you start to think she could pull this gator out of the lake with her bare hands. She’s the ultimate white broad. And I salute you Betty White. You are missed every day, my dear.
Lake Placid is a great flick to keep things fresh in my October playlist. I’m not sure what’s going to pop up tomorrow for my next movie. I might move back into something more traditionally scary. I need to look within my own collection and search the shelves to find some more items I’ve blind bought in the past that fit the bill for this spooky endeavor. Its not that I’ve exhausted all the streaming platforms and what they have to offer because I know there’s more out there but I think at this point I’ve cycled through a lot of the catalogs I have access to and have seen a lot of the standard fare they have to offer. So without more poignant direction on knowing exactly what it is that I want to watch, I fear even being a third of the way through the month would require me to start watching movies just to watch them. And while this may be an interesting technique for perhaps dealing myself a more random experience, being that I’m in the first half of the month I’d still like to be watching some things that I’m excited about and not just trying out for the heck of it. Realistically all these experiences are new. Some I have a stronger anticipation for, maybe more than others. I know the last two nights have been blind buys but they were movies I was more familiar with and could at least enjoy the nostalgia. I am looking forward to the release of Five Nights at Freddy’s towards the end of this month. Much like Haunted Mansion, I’ll be checking that one out on Peacock the day it comes out and doing a spoiler free review. I’ll mostly just be commenting on the experience of it all and my personal thoughts. I have some films in the Hitchcock catalog that I’ve not watched that I’m sure could be fun for this. But so far this has been a really good time. I was never scared at any point during Lake Placid. I know it’s not a traditional “horror comedy” in the vein of a lot of other movies. I think the big, angry, people-eating gator gets the movie into the horror column and then the rest of the movie is just a 90’s movie built around that. It’s fun. It’s suspenseful. There’s plenty to make this movie enjoyable. Sitting here at a third of the way though the month I’ve gotta say I’m glad to be doing this. It’s fun. It’s challenging. Even this part is a good exercise in some discipline. I don’t write necessarily like a lot of people write. There may be no one that sees or reads this post. But the whole time I’ve been writing this, I’ve been talking to you. I’m having this whole sort of conversation in my head with you and it’s fun to watch it transcribe itself on the page. It’s a weird little experience for me as I sit here and watch my thoughts get captured on a page. And then these words exist in this format right here in perpetuity. And if you are there right now on the other end of this reading these very words then we connected across time and space and that’s pretty cool to me. And Lake Placid did that. A movie about a giant, unruly gator from 1999 brought you and me together here in this moment. Isn’t that neat? Take a second and enjoy that. I am right now. But I’m doing it right now while I’m writing it. You’re doing it when you’re reading it. This moment started who knows how long ago because I don’t know when you’re reading this. But that’s some cool existentialism right there for you. And on that note I think we can close this one out. So check out Lake Placid. Nostalgia for the 90’s probably does bump this one up more than it deserves. And when you add in the Betty White multiplier then the score of this movie is just not realistic anymore. It’s probably another one that’s really like a 5 out of 10. Maybe 5.5 or so in reality. It’s worth a watch. It’s on Pluto TV so if you can sit through a few ads you can enjoy it for free as well. But I think that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter. Until next time, I’ll catch you on the flip side.