April 21, 1997 12:00 PM

Jennifer Lopez, Jon Voight

The animal of the title belongs to the boa family, which is to say it strangles its prey, then gulps it down as easily as you might a tray of oysters. In this preposterously amusing thriller, the anaconda, which dwells in the Amazon, happens to be 40 feet long—giving it more than enough internal space to accommodate a documentary film crew headed by a novice director (Lopez) and an anthropologist (Eric Stoltz) searching for a lost tribe. The snake (mostly computer-animated) is surprisingly agile. When not coiling and uncoiling itself like some monstrous party favor, it rams boats, smashes through cabin windows and leaps up cascades. Not realistic, but would you prefer a big worm that slithers and hisses? The other curiosity here is Voight, a snake-hunting Ahab in search of his reptilian Moby Dick. Voight mumbles his lines—mostly malarkey about the myth of the anaconda—in a thick, hoarse voice. Surely he’s doing Brando. (PG-13)

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