Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lake Placid


Such news! And not everyday news, but one of a kind, once in lifetime news! I just couldn't wait to share it with all of my darling readers! I have been signed to play the lead role in Fillies , a new musical film based on Peter Shaffer’s Equus . I am to play Martina Dysart, psychiatrist extraordinaire, who delves into the psyche of a young man with a horse fixation. This leads to simply splendid Technicolor dream extravaganza musical production numbers that will show off all of my famous tap routines. Fed Ex is delivering the music for my first number, Waiting Till the Girls are Mares , later this morning. It's so lovely to be back making a picture again. The talented David Fincher has signed as our director and Rob Lowe, based on his musical prowess on the Oscar show a few years back, is playing the boy.

When I told Norman the exciting news, he toasted my health with a glass of Listerine (Cool Mint flavor) and called his agent looking for new parts himself. He wants one of those later life Charlton Heston type cameos, but without having to run the NRA or say inane things about Republican idiots. Things are definitely on the upswing around Chateau Maine. In addition to the performing news, Hillary Clinton called about a GlamourPuss gown for one of her senatorial fundraisers and I'm torn between a Mungojerrie and a Rumpleteazer for her. The former would, I think, would go better with her power hair.

I was so excited last night, I had difficulty falling asleep so I channel surfed through the movie channels until I stumbled across Lake Placid , a film from a few years ago about a giant crocodile living in a Maine lake. I would have surfed on by, but the name David E. Kelley in the credits as writer and producer caught my eye. Mr. Kelley, for those of you who do not read People magazine, is the writer/creator of such quirky TV series as Ally McBeal and The Practice and is also, in his off hours, Mr. Michelle Pfeiffer. I was interested to see what he would do in the feature film arena, a very different medium then episodic television.

Lake Placid is supposedly a comedic horror film, in the subgenre of 'huge creatures that eat humans for lunch'. This hoary and time-honored filmic tradition also includes such classic titles as Anaconda Piranha , the killer rabbits of Night of the Lepus and, the best of the bunch, Jaws . The titular lake has become inhabited by a killer crocodile that is picking off unsuspecting field biologists and sheriff's deputies. The comic sheriff (Brendan Gleeson in a thankless role), the love interest paleontologist (a boring Bridget Fonda), a crocodile expert with a surfeit of personality (Oliver Platt chewing the scenery) and a fish and wildlife services official (Bill Pullman, who seems to be sleepwalking) team up to discover and trap the beast before more severed limbs and decapitated bodies spoil the vista. All of the usual set pieces in such movies (the unexpected death, the confrontation with the monster that allows the audience to ooh and ahh at its size, the destructive rampage, the last minute surprise) are present and accounted for and follow each other in paint by numbers format.

Kelley's major contribution to the genre seems to be some quirky dialog, which rapidly becomes irritating; it takes more than a few humorous lines to develop and flesh in a character in a feature film. He also offers some against type casting; this allows you to see Betty White utter various four-letter words in a completely charmless and unnecessary fashion. I've heard little old ladies curse before, both in life and on screen, and, without a character or much of a motivation behind them, the words are vapid and boring. Kelley seems to have been so intent on forging the one-liners, that he completely forgets such basics as story and the movie has plot holes that would bounce the axle off an eighteen-wheeler.

The monster itself, a thirty-foot crocodile, is more silly than frightening. Yawns greet it when it finally makes an appearance, as it's so obviously rubber and animatronics or CGI. No sense of danger is ever really imparted, even when the beast is busy devouring cows and other large mammals. A few clips of actual crocodile attacks glimpsed on a video monitor are much more interesting. Then comes Oliver Platt's opining on the mystery and divinity of the crocodile, a moment that is sublimely silly and wrong-headed. You can almost hear him rolling his eyes as he delivers the lines. On the plus side, the location shooting at the lake is lovely and makes you want to go camping and sing 'The Happy Wanderer'. Unfortunately, cardboard characters with insipid problems keep straying in front of the camera and spoiling the view. Fortunately, it’s a short movie; only about 75 minutes without the credits so you don't feel you wasted too much time.

Hemicorporectomies. Decapitations. Flying cow. Helicopter smashing. Gratuitous Mariska Hargitay. Screaming Bridget Fonda. Booby traps. Scary water monster (Oliver Platt in wetsuit).

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