Lake Placid

Director:Steve Miner
Writer:David E. Kelley
20th Century Fox; 88 minutes; R
Cast:Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, Oliver Platt

Lake Placid teaches us that not even in spoofs do movie monsters get to chomp down on Hollywood's stars. Just as well, because in the movie Bridget Fonda, Brendan Gleeson, and Betty White are too busy cracking one-liners to be afraid of a digitally generated 30-foot crocodile who'll opt for raw veal only if a fresh human isn't available in Maine backcountry.

One day urban paleontologist Kelly Scott (Fonda) receives an oversized tooth in the mail. Next, she's flying off to remote woods, armed with a can of insect repellant. There she encounters a hunky local love interest (Bill Pullman), an ego-tripping professor specializing in croc myths (Oliver Platt), and sweet Miss Bickerman (White) — one of the film's livelier characters, who exists in a hilarious sacrificial symbiosis with the hungry reptile. Lake Placid tries to be slightly scary and fails; it tries to be funny and often succeeds. In the end, however, it resembles the thing in the lake: a little artificial, a little cold-blooded.

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