Review: Land of the Lost

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I didn’t like Land of the Lost. I’m not a big Will Ferrell fan overall, but I had high hopes for this film anyway because  the original TV series upon which it’s based was such a fun, innocent adventure show. 

I should have known better.

The fundamental problem with Land of the Lost is that it couldn’t decide whether it was going to be a nice G-rated family film (which was certainly the premise of the original show) or whether it was going to give in and be raunchy, rife with both sexual and drug jokes, as if it were some sort of prehistoric addition to the Porky’s series.

To be blunt, there was a shocking amount of profanity, stupid sexual jokes and at least one drug-themed scene that surprised and angered me in a film that’s ostensibly marketed to families with children under 15. But then again, maybe I’m the one who is out of touch.

I can’t help wondering, however, how many parents would be comfortable bringing their pre-teen to a movie just to have a sophomoric series of jokes about women’s breasts (they also appear prominently on mugs, a lighter, and Holly (actress Anna Friel) has her breasts fondled and commented upon time and time again) and a scene where two Sleestak lizard-men have sex (off camera, but with a running commentary about “oh, he’s about to tap that ass” “no he’s not” “oh. oh, yes he is” “oh, yech!”)?

Not upsetting enough? In one early scene, Dr. Marshall (Will Ferrell) crouches down and quietly says “f*ck you!” to the child-like Chaka (played, in heavy makeup, by Jorma Taccone).

What the heck?

This is what passes for a family film nowadays? 

And, worse, Sid & Mart Krofft, creators of the original TV show, produced this remake? Unbelievable.

land of the lost original image.jpgThe original mid-70’s series is about a father and two children that are trapped in a strange alternative universe populated by dinosaurs, a child-like race of primitives called Pakuni and a half-man half-lizard race of bad guys called Sleestaks.

I recently rewatched a few episodes of the TV series and it’s unquestionably cheesy, but it’s also upbeat, optimistic and sweet in a wholesome way that’s very characteristic of the era. More importantly, it’s clearly aimed at children but doesn’t stint on adventure and excitement, along with having a strong female character (though she was usually only strong when her brother and Dad were away, from what I can recall, but the children’s maturation was one of the running themes in the show).
That sense of innocence, of child-like wonder with this brave new world of dinosaurs and simian semi-human creatures, is completely discarded in the movie and the combination of Will Ferrell and Danny McBrideas (who plays redneck survivalist Will Stanton) makes for a film that’s very different in flavor and style.
The storyline has something to do with a tachyon amplifier that Dr. Marshall has created to tap “the limitless energy in alternative dimensions”. He’s a loser and crackpot, however, and it takes research assistant Holly to give him the courage to actually try his device. He turns it on and they are dropped through a massive hole in the earth and end up.. somewhere. I guess it’s an alternative dimensions, but most reviewers are saying it’s just a time warp of some sort. I don’t think so, but who knows, the story’s a bit of fluff and clearly not important to the movie.
In fact, as my friend Christian Toto observed after we watched Land of the Lost together, this was a film where the scenes could have been shuffled and put together in a different order and the film wouldn’t have made any more — or less — sense than it does now. In that vein, I think that if they would have cut out about ten minutes with some aggressive editing, it would have been a far more family friendly film. Maybe this’ll be one where the director’s cut on DVD is actually shorter than the cinematic release. That’d be nice, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
That’s about all I am motivated to say about this expensive, nicely produced bit of idiocy. If I had gone into the theater expecting a raunchy frat-boy type of film, perhaps I would have found the satire more amusing and even seen the entire movie as a sort of sophomoric parody of the original TV series.
I didn’t go in with those expectations, I instead went in as a father of three children and was appalled. Sorry, Will Ferrell and team, I think this one’s going to be a bomb.

One comment on “Review: Land of the Lost

  1. The Land of the lost with Will Ferrell was a great movie, one of my absolute favorites and my kids really enjoy it as well…. anyone who says this movie is bad has no sense of humor and takes life and movies way too seriously:)) and probably is a complete D-Bag for not liking this movie or Will Ferrell.

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