Monday, June 8, 2009

Movie Review: Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost * ½
Directed By:
Brad Silberling.
Written By: Chris Henchy & Dennis McNicholas based on the TV series created by Sid Krofft &Marty Krofft.
Starring: Will Ferrell (Dr. Rick Marshall), Anna Friel (Holly Cantrell), Danny McBride (Will Stanton), Jorma Taccone (Cha-Ka), John Boylan (Enik), Matt Lauer (Himself).

Will Ferrell is a funny guy. In most of his movies, his unique sense of comic insanity is enough to push the whole movie into funny territory. And yet, Ferrell can not do everything by himself. The new film Land of the Lost is an example of that. Along with Ferrell, we have Anna Friel, so good in the short lived TV series Pushing Daisies, and Danny McBride, hilarious in last year’s Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express, in a movie with a promising concept – idiot scientist Ferrell stumbles upon a way to break out a portal in time and space and ends up in the Land of the Lost – where things that are no longer needed in our world end up. There are dinosaurs, and monkey people, old cars, abandoned motels, etc. Along with him is a smart, British scientist (Friel) and a tour guide, who also sells fireworks (McBride), as they try to navigate this strange new world, and find a way to get home. The humans are joined by Cha-Ka, a monkey man, who may in fact be the missing link. Oh, and they have to fight against some sort of giant lizard men, who want to destroy their world.

Okay, so you may think this sounds like it could be an entertaining movie. So did I. I don’t remember much about the trippy 1970s TV series by Sid & Marty Kroft that the movie is based on, other than the fact that it was really only very good if you were stoned. I guess on that level, Land of the Lost is a success – I can imagine a bunch of stoners think that this movie was hilarious. But they are the only ones – if your mind is straight when you watch this film, they you probably find as boring as I did.

Ferrell plays his regular character – a clueless guy, with delusions of grandeur. He thinks he is a genius, and he may well in fact be one, but that doesn’t mean he’s very smart. It takes him a long time to figure out what exactly is going on, and every prediction he makes seems to go horribly awry. It seems like the normal rules about dinosaurs, or anything else, do not apply in this world.

The problem with the movie is that nothing that happens is all that funny or exciting. Sure, I got a the occasional chuckle out of the movie, but nothing really made me laugh out loud. You get people as talented as these three together, and you are bound to hit a few of the right notes. The problem here is that the film doesn’t hit nearly enough of them. The so called action sequences aren’t very exciting either, and the special effects are merely okay. I understand that part of the reason why the non human characters were designed they way they were, was because they were trying to recreate some of the same feel as the TV show, but for the most part it just didn’t work.

What they have in this movie is an idea that may have been turned into a decent SNL skit when Ferrell was there – perhaps even a recurring one. But stretched into feature length, it gets old, and tired and repetitive fairly quickly. The film is strange in its tone, as it seems to be aimed at the level of kids, with its simple plot, and juvenile humor, and yet there is a hell of a lot of swearing for a kid’s movie. The result is a film that is likely to please no one. Parents will likely be offended by the humor if they bring their kids, those kids will be bored that there isn’t much more action, and teenagers will think the whole thing is too tame. By trying hard to please everyone, the makers of this film end up pleasing no one.

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