Lake Placid can best be described as a half-baked Anaconda meets Jaws, an uneasy compromise between a serious monster thriller and a wild adventure-comedy. Although the movie is laughably doomed from minute one, it does have a certain campy charm. Rarely does a film switch tones so casually and frequently. One moment the audience is watching a gruesome Alligator retread; seconds later the film becomes satirical and intellectual. Unlike Deep Blue Sea, this matinee creature-feature never possesses a real sense of humor or winks at the audience. Whether intentionally or not, director Steve Miner has created a big-studio B-movie from an A-list writer, David E. Kelley. It features an array of stock characters, most notably Oliver Platt, as a millionaire croc lover, and a foul-mouthed Betty White. The film creates little attachment to these canned characters, however, tempting viewers to root for the crocodile instead of heroes Bill Pullman and Bridget Fonda. Kelley creates a handful of snappy one-liners, but a majority of the dialogue lacks the bite of his work on Ally McBeal. As with the Jaws franchise, the real moments of suspense arrive when the unseen croc lurks beneath the lake and prepares for a surprise attack. The impressive computer-generated monster surfaces frequently, but the digital beast is simply not as frightening as what the imagination has created.