Loch Ness (1996) starring Ted Danson, Joely Richardson, Kirsty Graham, Ian Holm, Harris Yulin, James Frain, Keith Allen, Nick Brimble directed by John Henderson Movie Review

Loch Ness (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

James Frain and Ted Danson in Loch Ness (1996)

Nessie is a Bit Messy

When it comes to middle of the road "Loch Ness" has to be the most middle of the road movie I have ever seen. With its strange blend of a romantic storyline interweaved with that of a sceptical scientist searching for the Loch Ness monster it is entertaining and inoffensive but also so ordinary that it ends up forgettable. It lacks that bit of magic when it comes to the romance and lacks that sense of awe and mystery when it comes to the Nessie side of things and it is why it ends up such a middle of the road movie that whilst it had cinema releases in many countries was debuted on TV in America.

With the IRS and an ex wife on his back over money, L.A. scientist Dr. Jonathan Dempsey (Ted Danson - Getting Even with Dad) begrudgingly agrees to go to Scotland to disprove the existence of the Loch Ness monster. After spending years looking for Sasquatch and coming up with nothing not only is he a professional joke but one who has become more of a sceptic than anyone. Arriving in Scotland does nothing to cheer Dempsey up when met by over enthusiastic assistant Adrian (James Frain) who is convinced they will find Nessie and add to that with the resentment of many locals Dempsey can't wait to get done and get home. But his attitude changes when not only does he think he sees something but he warms to Laura (Joely Richardson - King Ralph), the frosty landlady who begrudgingly lets him stay at her pub.

Joely Richardson as Laura in Loch Ness (1996)

To go on record I like "Loch Ness" it is a pleasant movie to watch on a wintry afternoon, the various scenes of Loch Ness are magnificent and the whole simple antagonism/ romance between Jonathan and Laura whilst cliche is nice. But my trouble is for a movie which is about the magic and mystery of the Loch Ness monster it lacks both magic and mystery. I suppose what I wanted was a movie which brought the legend to life in an exciting way but there is so little excitement as we watch Dempsey go from a sceptic to a believer that it is disappointing.

And whilst the storyline builds to a nice point as he finds himself having to make a choice between following his heart and head it all feels like it is going through the paces. To explain would be to spoil things but basically there is a lot of cliche in "Loch Ness" and it is why it ends up middle of the road rather than memorable.

In a strange way "Loch Ness" becomes a movie of visuals rather than content, we have the visuals of the stunning Loch, the visuals of what maybe the monster and plenty more. Even the characters end up being all about the visuals from Dempsey with his despondent look and bad hair through to the piercing eyes and cheek bones of Laura. It means that the two lead performances from Ted Danson and Joely Richardson end up all about how they look rather than their characters, and whilst neither put in bad performances the characters are forgettable. Even the great Ian Holm is forgettable as the keeper of the Loch because it is such a cliche character with only Kirsty Graham as young Isabel, Laura's daughter, making any impression. Well I say that but Keith Allen makes an impression as Loch Looney Gordon Shoals but only because the character has no place in the movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Loch Ness" is an inoffensive bit of afternoon entertainment which is okay to watch but wont be something you will go out of your way to watch again. But in away that makes it disappointing because any movie about the legend of the Loch Ness monster should be mysterious, magical and exciting which sadly "Loch Ness" isn't.