June 7, 2009
Review - " Land of the Lost " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Land of the Lost
Directed by Brad Silberling
Starring: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny
McBride, Matt Lauer
There is exactly one funny bit in "Land of the
Lost," and it stands out because it comes at
the very beginning and the very end.
Will Ferrell, as arrogant scientist Dr. Rick
Marshall, appears on the "Today" show to
discuss his time-travel theories and promote
his latest book. Matt Lauer, thinking he's a
crackpot, interviews him with unmistakable
disdain and chafes at Marshall's attempts to
hijack the segment. (Lauer's deadpan comic
timing is great, by the way. Maybe he should
think about a career in acting if this TV thing
doesn't work out.)
In between these two scenes, though, is an awkward combination of kitschy comedy (which is never amusing) and earnest
action (which is never thrilling). And it's not as if the source material was worthy of a big-budget summer blockbuster starring
an A-lister like Ferrell.
The Sid & Marty Krofft TV series "Land of the Lost," about a family that gets sucked into a prehistoric age when an
earthquake hits while they're rafting _ "the greatest earthquake ever known," as the theme song goes _ aired for just three
seasons in the mid-1970s. It was laughable with its stiff dialogue and low-tech effects.
At least the series knew what it was. Working from a script by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas (though Ferrell and co-
star Danny McBride clearly did a healthy amount of improv), director Brad Silberling can't seem to decide whether he's
making fun of the show's cheesy visuals or seizing on its sense of roughhewn adventure. And so in hopes of pleasing the
lowest common denominator nonetheless, all these people offer an overload of jokes about dinosaur poop and urine.
Holly (Anna Friel) is no longer Marshall's fresh-faced daughter but a brainy British research assistant who happens to look
incredibly sexy in a tank top and short shorts. Will is a redneck who runs the tourist trap that becomes the inadvertent
portal to the past. (McBride attacks the role with his patented brand of Southern, mulleted brashness.)
And Chaka ("Saturday Night Live" writer Jorma Taccone), who was merely a mischievous primate before, is now a shameless
horndog who repeatedly fondles Holly's breasts and even finds himself attracted to Marshall's manhood. The joke doesn't
work even once.
The plot consists of our trio running from dinosaurs and trying to find a way back home. Chaka sort of tries to help.
Sometimes they run into the menacing Sleestaks, in their obviously rubbery reptilian costumes, stomping around like zombies
and hissing a lot (they were scary when we were kids, though).
Talk about your time warps.
This is a pretty standard Will Ferrell movie. The jokes come not from the film’s ridiculous premise or even from the outlandish
situations Will Ferrell is thrust into. Most of those are played seriously. The film only attempts to be funny whenever whatever
CGI action moment it’s just put us through is over with and Ferrell stands around to engage in semi-improvisational speeches
designed to make himself look like an ass. Land of the Lost isn’t the butt of the joke, Will Ferrell is, and we've seen this movie
Also hammered into the
unexplored ground is a
running gag about "A
Chorus Line", a song from
the musical keeps blaring
contraption, which ultimately
allows Marshall to unleash
his inner Broadway star.
Although the character has
his origins elsewhere, this is
basically the same guy
Ferrell keeps playing over
and over. He's Ron
Burgundy in khakis instead
of a polyester leisure suit,
Ricky Bobby traveling to the
past instead of driving in