You Might Need A Doctor To Prescribe Something For These "Lake Effects" Review

At a certain point, you have to stop thinking of movies as entertainment and start looking at them as ceremonies; that's the only way to look at something like the output of Hallmark films. Their stories are so similar and their audience so static, that you have to look at these less as narratives than as daily affirmations to reinforce things you already believe with fictional set-ups and characters. But even by those standards, Lake Effects is pretty weak, weak enough that not even typically likeable actors can make Hallmark's aggressive attempts to inspire feel like anything other than unwarranted groping.

After the death of her father (Jeff Fahey), Sara (Scottie Thompson) returns home from her high-profile law firm in Los Angeles to the quaint mountain town she grew up in to help her mother (Jane Seymour) and sister Lily (Madeline Zima) through the grieving process. Just how quaint is Smith Mountain Lake? It has Ben Savage and a bunch of his friends searching for 'Smithie' (a monster plesiosaur) in their spare time, amusingly but harmlessly (one of them states, almost as an afterthought, that he believes Bigfoot killed Kennedy). Just how out of touch with her roots is Sara? When her cell phone goes off in the middle of her father's funeral, she visibly contemplates answering it. Just what the odds that she'll be able to put away her big city values and reconnect with her family in the most gratingly obvious way possible (i.e. showing them do yoga together)? What is it that you think you're watching here?

It almost feels mean picking on Lake Effects, since all it wants to do is manipulate you into feeling generally harmless emotions, but one couldn't argue that it does it well. For that to work, there has to be some feeling of organic surprise, of which Effects is sorely lacking. Plot developments are not only telegraphed from miles away, but telegraphed by mere virtue of who people are. Did you know that if you're from Los Angeles, you not only once appeared in Starship Troopers, but are inherently shallow and predatory? Or that small towns in rural America (that are surprisingly well off) are the best place for absolutely everyone to live? If you're in Lake's target audience, or at least in its imagining of it, you do, and are seeking validation of that viewpoint by (as previously noted) fictional characters. It's hard to say Lake Effects doesn't fulfill that goal, but it's harder to imagine anyone being swayed by it.


There is a short 'making-of' documentary.

"Lake Effects" is on sale August 14, 2012 and is not rated. Drama. Directed by Michael Mckay. Written by Scott Winters, Michael McKay, Carolyn Miller, Sara Elizabeth Timmins, Michael Ceraso. Starring Ben Savage, Casper Van Dien, Jane Seymour, Jeff Fahey, Scottie Thompson, Madeline Zima.

Anders Nelson • Associate Editor


New Reviews