Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott) is a freelance photographer who has been assigned to take photos of environmental damage and water pollution to some areas in Florida. While in his canoe completing his assignment Clint and Karen Crockett (Adam Roarke and Joan Van Ark), the children of a wheelchair-bound sourpuss named Jason (Ray Milland), are out for a speedboat ride and almost run Smith down. Apologetically, they invite Smith to come back to their father's plantation for dry clothes and a chance to spend a little time participating in their 4th of July festivities.
Smith agrees and wishes to leave the next day, but it becomes very clear that something is terribly wrong with the animal life on the small island that may have something to do with the chemicals that Jason Crockett uses to fend of the creatures he loathes so much. Frogs have begun to accumulate everywhere around the island and have somehow been able to agitate the other creatures into fighting back against the humans that have wronged them. As bodies begin to pile up, Smith tries to convince the remaining survivors that they must get off the island before it is too late.
Frogs is one of the most ridiculous and unbelievable films ever made, but the subject matter is taken so seriously that it makes for quite an enjoyable little excursion. The idea that frogs have organized the snakes, spiders, lizards, alligators, and turtles (and even birds and butterflies at one point) to attack humanity with various "intelligent" means is totally absurd. I can almost hear viewers of this film laughing now at the scene where a group of lizards and geckos manage to confuse one character long enough for another lizard to knock a bunch of bottles off of a shelf, causing the poison and other chemicals in the broken jars to mix and make a poisonous cloud (which allows the man to suffocate in the greenhouse he has been trapped in). There is also a scene in which one woman ventures out into the woods and the film gives us the prospect that she is about to be attacked by butterflies. Alas, the scene never turns out like that, but the thought is absurd and hilarious in equal amounts.
Aside from the illogical aspect of the film, the other major complaint I have is that the entire film is based around countless shots of frogs. There are shots of frogs hopping, shots of frogs leaping, shots of frogs standing on other frogs backs, shots of frogs sitting in chairs, shots of frogs squeaking on glass doors trying to get inside, and (my personal favorite) shots of frogs menacingly staring into the camera. By menacingly, I mean staring the way frogs somehow seem to stare in that placid non-threatening way that frogs always seem to stare. I don't know about anybody else but to me, frogs are one of the least frightening creatures ever placed on this planet, and they aren't much more frightening in groups.
Where the film does work is that it never makes the premise a basis for camp shenanigans. The cast is strictly deadpan and no one gives knowing nods that the film they are appearing in is extremely silly. As a result, the plot is given a slight bit of validity and is enjoyable in spite of itself. In fact, the only moment in the film that is campy in anyway is at the end of the credits, when an animated frog leaps on screen with a hand in its mouth, swallows the hand, and leaps away. I have no idea why this was included in the film, but it was incredibly absurd and not in keeping with the tone of the movie that preceded it.
Sam Elliott plays Smith as such a straight arrow that its no wonder everyone on the island didn't leave with him the first few times he tried to go. Ray Milland is perfect as the crotchety old millionaire Jason, who forces his family to spend every 4th of July at his plantation celebrating three members of the family's birthdays. He is perfect as a true jerk who demands that the festivities continue even as his other family members are dropping like flies around him. Though most of the rest of the cast is merely there as frog fodder, they are given fairly decent roles as the members of the eccentric Crockett clan.
Frogs has been released on DVD through MGM Home Entertainment. The film is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio (enhanced for 16x9 televisions) and the transfer is actually pretty decent, allowing the viewer to enjoy the endless scenes of frogs in all of their digital glory. Though there are no real extra features to speak of, the original theatrical trailer is included and the back of the packaging includes a bit of trivia concerning the film. Though it certainly isn't the most believable film ever made, it is worth checking out for fans of "nature-gone-wild" movies or just fans of B-movies in general.
Film Review Courtesy of Pockets of Sanity