6/8/09

Review: Land of the Lost (2009)


Oh, my goodness. It's no criticism to say that a Will Ferrell movie doesn't have much of a plot. He's a pretty good actor, but he's carried more than a few movies with adroit improv and sheer goofiness alone. But Land of the Lost is so...boring. Not even stupid, as, again, that wouldn't be a very apt criticism, though it is pretty stupid. But it's just boring.

There are a few bright spots, both from Ferrell and Danny McBride (Pineapple Express), and especially McBride, but overall, this one's a snoozer. Matt Lauer's pretty good as himself.

Based on the children's television show from Sid and Marty Krofft, which I'll cop to having watched on more than one bleary Saturday morning, but which was never a great favorite of mine, the possibilities for parody, hijinks and silliness are all there, but are largely left unmined by what feels like a desultory effort.

The plot of the show concerned a scientist and his family who are marooned in the titular land when they...well, I'm not sure. I guess they raft down a crazy stream like they do in the movie. Anyway, they end up in some kind of parallel universe with dinosaurs, volcanoes, monkey people and "Sleestaks," lizard-y monsters who hiss, walk menacingly toward them very slowly, etc. They have to figure out how to survive and try to get home. I can't remember if they ever did get home.

Those human characters don't appear in the film, they're all new characters, with Ferrell as Dr. Rick Marshall, a visionary screw-up whose theories on parallel universes get him nowhere in the scientific world, Anna Friel as a Cambridge acolyte who believes in Marshall when nobody else does, and McBride as Will, a desert redneck who runs a tourist trap hole-in-the-wall known as "Devil's Canyon," which turns out to be a strange portal to the Land of the Lost, with the help of Marshall's tachyon amplifier device, which plays songs from "A Chorus Line."

Dinosaurs, Sleestaks and Cha-Ka, a monkey-man (Jorma Taccone), none of which are particularly interesting, scary or humorous, also reappear from the TV show.

It's hard to pinpoint when this kind of movie goes wrong. Generally speaking, it should be the perfect platform for Ferrell and company to go off on, parodying, acting dumb, and generally having a good time. Maybe that's part of it. They don't seem to be having a particularly good time. The effects also may have been too involved to allow for much really spontaneous improvisation. Whatever it is, it's easy to tell that it doesn't work very well. It's mostly joyless.

There's an extra scene midway through the closing credits, if you're still awake. There might have been another one at the very end of the closing credits, that will forever remain a mystery for me, as I had to get home to catch some Z's. And I love to catch the whole closing credits, and wasn't even very tired when the movie started.

In sum, I'd say avoid, avoid, avoid, probably even if you're a big Will Ferrell fan, Danny McBride fan, or "Land of the Lost" fan. Unless you can see it for free. With free snacks. And have something caffeinated. I did all that, and still probably didn't come out very far ahead.

Alex
The Magic of the Movies

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