A baby alligator is flushed down a Chicago toilet and survives by eating discarded lab rats, injected with growth hormones. The small animal grows gigantic, escapes the city sewers, and goes on a rampage.
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Unlike many other "Jaws" inspired movies, this one doesn't try to hide what it is. So, instead of homages to "Moby Dick" or conspiracies (although they are present but in a more satirical manner), it offers non stop action and funny dialogues. Actors themselves seem both embarrassed and entertained by the screenplay. Add to that acting veterans, and you have a fun watch with right amount of gore and creepiness.
Far, far better than it needed to be to succeed. The John Sayles script has more wit and even a bit more depth than usual for a cheap monster flick and the performances match it with more nuance and style than normally found in the B-movie gutters (or, in this case, sewers).