Land Of The Lost
Directed by Brad Silberling
Starring Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Jorma Taccone
Release date: June 5, 2009
If you were a child of the ’70s, there’s a good chance you were glued to the TV on Saturday mornings waiting impatiently for one of the Krofft-produced series to come on. A favorite with all the kids I knew was Land Of The Lost, about Rick Marshall and his two children, Will and Holly, whose plummet down a waterfall finds them trapped in an alternate dimension populated by bipedal lizard creatures, ape-like cavemen, and dinosaurs. The new Land Of The Lost is based on this children’s television show, but as is the trend these days, instead of being a faithful big-screen adaptation, the movie is more a mockery of the original. When it’s not poking fun at its small-screen predecessor, it’s incessantly winking at it.
While all the names are the same, the characters have been drastically altered and the entire premise changed. Instead of Rick Marshall the dad, he’s now Dr. Rick Marshall, a scientist whose far-out theories about time warps have disgraced him right out of the scientific community, and he’s played greatly for laughs by Will Ferrell. In lieu of two kids, Will (Danny McBride) is now a wannabe casino owner biding his time as a guide at a makeshift tourist attraction and Holly (Anna Friel) is an attractive British graduate student who happens to be the only person who has any faith in Rick’s theories. While testing out one of Will’s theories with his Tachyon amplifier, the trio in their tiny raft go plummeting right into the “land of the lost,” a parallel universe populated with — yup — hostile lizard men (the Sleestaks), ape men (Jorma Taccone), and dinosaurs.
Land Of The Lost is a comedy, through and through, but there’s really only one question you have to ask yourself before going into this movie: Do you like Will Ferrell? Because above all else, this is a Will Ferrell comedy. It could taken place any place, any time, any where — in prehistoric times, in space, on a boat, in that flying Up house, doesn’t matter, all of it is just set-up for Ferrell’s comedic performance. In Land Of The Lost, Ferrell gets to play off of a vengeful T. Rex, a horny ape-man named Cha-Ka, and Holly’s sexy body; add funnyman Danny McBride, who’s often the one to point out nonsensical aspects of their situation, and you have a film you can laugh with from beginning to end.
Actually, I found myself so busy laughing at Ferrell’s prehistoric jungle and desert escapades that after a while, I forgot about what the characters were actually supposed to be doing in this land of the lost. I think the characters themselves forgot their mission too, as there’s a long interlude at one point where the men get high on some desert fruit in the flats area that looks like it’s straight off the set of Beetlejuice. I found this part to be the only really boring, not to mention weird, part of the film. While the guys contemplate whether to tongue kiss each other (yeah, exactly), Holly goes out investigate on her own and finds a whole lot of trouble. Eventually, the story gets back on track and morphs into Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, with lots of death-defying action involving an army of slow-moving yet scary Sleestaks and that really pissed off T. Rex.
Matt Lauer appears as himself as Dr. Marshall’s human protagonist and does a hilarious job with his part. Another great little cameo was from Leonard Nimoy, who voices The Zarn, but unfortunately it was a little too small. The Zarn is a character from the original television series, as is Enik, who also appears in the film as a Sleestak who calls on Rick, Will, and Holly for help. The TV show’s catchy banjo theme song also gets incorporated, as does a bunch of other little aspects of the original show. For a film like this, I think it’s acceptable to not be faithful to the original, as in this case, the source material really doesn’t hold up today. But I enjoyed all the throwbacks and nods to the 1970s show that the filmmakers so lovingly included in this version of Land Of The Lost, including the choice to not only make the Sleestaks actors in suits instead of CGI, but also finding a humorous way to make reference to the suits.
One recommendation I’d give for those of you interested in seeing this movie is to NOT to watch all the trailers and clips, and avoid TV spots too if you can, because the majority of the comedy has already been shown in them. While I did find these segments humorous in the movie, I know I would have enjoyed it so much more had it been the first time I was seeing it. Oh, and be sure to stick around during the credits for the bonus scene that screams “SEQUEL!”.
Land Of The Lost is a laugh out loud comedy, not suitable for your real young ones, but definitely a must-see for Will Ferrell and/or Danny McBride fans.