LAND OF THE LOST
***1/2 (out of 5)
June 5, 2009
Will Ferrell as DR. RICK MARSHALL
Anna Friel as HOLLY CANTRELL
Danny McBride as WILL STANTON
Jorma Taccone as CHAKA
Directed by: Brad Silberling
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Poppycock, hogwash and utter silliness. How else can I describe the new big budget, big screen version of the classic Saturday morning live action series “Land of the Lost”?
Realize, however, that this description isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, anyone who watched “Land of the Lost” in its original 1970s incarnation will remember that it wasn’t exactly a sacred cow of science fiction. Heck, it wasn’t even a sacred possum.
I watched the original “Land of the Lost” show when it originally aired. I was only a few years old at the time, so my memory of the series is a little fuzzy (although thanks to the SciFi Channel, you can watch the series again in toto). I did, however, remember that it had awful special effects, crummy acting and goofy stories. When I saw clips of it again a few years ago, I realized that it was even lower-rent than I remembered. Seriously, they must have spent a whole $18 an episode on effects and make-up work.
Adapting “Land of the Lost” to the big screen was a relatively safe bet for Will Farrell and director Brad Silberling, whose previous big-screen outings were “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “City of Angels.” Even if they ruined it, they weren’t crushing anyone’s fond memories.
With original producers Sid and Marty Krofft behind the film, “Land of the Lost” became exactly what it should have been: poppycock, hogwash and utter silliness.
The movie follows a scientist named Dr. Rick Marshall (Will Farrell), who theorizes that one could use tachyons to open a portal to a world where the past, present and future collide. After being disgraced by Matt Lauer on “Today,” Marshall falls into obscurity. However, a visit from the young and eager scientist Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) convinces him to continue his work on his tachyon amplifier.
Soon, a freak accident during a chintzy boat ride in a roadside attraction fireworks shop, Marshall, Holly and their navigator Will (Danny McBride) are flung across dimensions to a lost world where dinosaurs rule the land and evil lizard people threaten to take over the universe.
The mentality of “Land of the Lost” is aimed at the most juvenile audience it can reach, but with pretty cool special effects. There’s plenty of scenes of comedic action, including several dinosaur chases with an intelligent T-rex. In this respect, this is a great movie for kids.
However, the film does carry a PG-13 rating, which is deserved for a significant amount of sexual humor and some surprising drug references. Many of these jokes should go over the heads of the youngest audience, and if a five year old gets them, the kid’s not all that innocent to begin with. Still, it might be a bit uncomfortable at times to watch with your kids.
Of course, this is nothing new for the world of Sid and Marty Krofft. These are the people who gave us the not-so-subtle hallucinogenic and mildly subversive kids show “H.R. Pufnstuf” in the 1970s. Again, this new film isn’t ruining any brilliant children’s series.
“Land of the Lost” achieves several things. First, it delivers a modern version of the original show, which the audience must remember was a mess to begin with. It also serves as a spoof of itself, poking fun at the series randomness. Finally, like “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” it gives comedic actors like Will Farrell and Danny McBride to engage in some pretty hilarious one-on-one comedy with each other, completely unrelated to the driving storyline.
I watched the movie with my two young sons, and they absolutely adored it. The action sequences are perfect for kids, not really having much of an explanation or even logic behind them. Rather, it was just a dumb, fun amusement park ride, and it touched a certain level of childlike excitement in myself. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I had a blast watching it.