Saturday, June 06, 2009

Land of the Lost (**)

Land of the Lost.  93 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Brad Silberling.  Written by Chris Henchy & Dennis McNicholas.  Starring Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, and Jorma Taccone.

I've never seen a single episode of the 70s show Land of the Lost, so maybe some of the story and joke intricacies are lost on me, but, for my money, the movie version is an aimless and flat comedy.  Sure, it gives Will Ferrell yet another chance to perfect his cocky boob persona, but something feels a bit off by trying to insert that kind of comedy in what is essentially a Journey to the Center of the Earth rip-off.  Ferrell plays Dr. Rick Marshall, an expert on time warps, whose research funding and reputation in the science community is trashed after a disastrous interview with Matt Lauer on the The Today Show.  Cut to three years later, and thanks to the urging of grad student Holly (the always welcome Anna Friel), Rick takes up his time warp studies again, and the two soon find themselves, along with a hillbilly tour guide (played by who else?  Danny McBride), stuck in some alternative universe where past, present, and future collide.  Really, they just end up in a world where dinosaurs still exist, monkey men are friends, and scary walking lizards named Sleestaks are a threat.  None of this stuff is taken seriously, and all of the unbelievable things the characters encounter are treated with a shrug of indifference.  Don't be fooled by the marketing - families are in for a surprise if they go in expecting a kids flick.  There's drug use, nudity, sex jokes, f-bombs, and more in the movie, which is all fine by me, but one has to wonder who the filmmakers were aiming to reach.  It's too mature for kids, yet too immature and stupid for anyone over the age of nine.  If it's a down-and-dirty comedy you're looking for, go see The Hangover instead.  There are some gags that hit their target in Land of the Lost - I especially liked the scene where Ferrell, McBride, and Chaka (The Lonely Island's Jorma Taccone) get stoned off some island fruit, and McBride dares Ferrell to make out with Chaka.  But moments like these are few and far between.  Land of the Lost is just plain weird.  That can be a good thing, but the comedy needs to be as weird as the concept in order for it to work.  Too much of the movie is just plop Will Ferrell in a CGI environment and let him do his thing.  No thanks - if I'm just going to see Ferrell make an ass of himself, I'd much rather watch Anchorman 2.



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