OK, I know I like this more than I should, and I know on one level that it isn't really a 4-star movie. But everytime I see this movie I get a real blast out of it, and if I encounter it while channel surfing, I always stay for a while to catch my favorite bits.
So why do I like this? I think partly for the sheer absurdity of it. Could anything sillier than an utterly gigantic crocodile living in a lake in Maine be concocted? Well, yeah, you could, but it is absurd, and the makers of the film treat it as so. The emphasis in the film is primarily on the characters and the humor, and far less on the monster. That isn't to say that there aren't some great moments featuring the beast. But the moments aren't always scary ones. When our croc lunges onto shore to grab a bovine snack, one is more apt to laugh than scream.
What really makes the film work is the humor and the cast. Brigit Fonda is a bit too whiny in her role, but she provides some balance to all the guys. Bill Pullman is likable here as he always is. Oliver Platt is one of my favorite actors, and I never fail to love him in just about anything he is in. He adds spice here as a flamboyant crocodile hunter who comes and tries to steal the whole hunt for the predator crocodile. Australian character actor Bredan Gleeson is one of the most chameleonic actors in the world. He has portrayed a variety of bad guys in films, was "Monk" McGinn in THE GANGS OF NEW YORK, played a Latin revolutionary in THE TAILOR OF PANAMA, and has played a variety of Irishmen in several films. In this one, he plays the local Maine sheriff. I really enjoy the interaction between all the characters.
In the end, I think what I enjoy most the the pure sense of fun everyone obviously had. It isn't a masterpiece, and it isn't one of the best films every made, or even one of the best monster flicks. But it is a lot of pure fun.