Land of the Lost

Cast:
Will Ferrell as Dr. Rick Marshall
Anna Friel as Holly Cantrell
Danny McBride as Will Stanton
Jorma Taccone as Cha-Ka
John Boylan as Enik
Matt Lauer as Himself
Ben Best as Ernie
Leonard Nimoy as The Zarn

Summary:
Fans of Will Ferrell and Danny McBride should enjoy “Land of the Lost,” but parents should heed the PG-13 rating as this has a lot of language and sexual humor.

Story:
After being disgraced and run out of the scientific community for his wild theories, Dr. Rick Marshall has hit rock bottom. But a chance for redemption arrives when Holly Cantrell shows up with fossil evidence that prove his theories on time travel are correct. With one last chance at clearing his name, Marshall and Holly go on a routine expedition to gather more data.

They arrive at a small roadside attraction called “The Devil’s Cave” where they meet their tour guide, Will Stanton. The three enter the cave and before they know it, they’re transported to a land where time and space are mixed up. There, they encounter a grouchy T-Rex, a half-man half-ape named Cha-Ka, and a lizard race known as the Sleestak.

Marshall, Will, and Holly must use all their scientific knowledge and survival skills to stay alive in the Land of the Lost, but they’ll have to overcome all their shortcomings if they are to have any hope of making it back home.

“Land of the Lost” rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and for language including a drug reference.

What Worked:
I used to watch “Land of the Lost” when I was a kid. With dinosaurs, lizard men, and ape-men, what’s not to love? My mom tells me I used to force her to watch it with me because as much as I loved it, I was terrified of the Sleestak. So with fond memories in mind and childhood nightmares repressed, I was pretty excited to see a remake of “Land of the Lost.” I always imagined someone doing a serious action-adventure of it, so I was surprised when I heard it would be a comedy. But after seeing the final product and looking back at the original series 35 years later, I see how it works as a comedy.

Your enjoyment of “Land of the Lost” will entirely depend on your feelings towards Will Ferrell. If you don’t like his comedies, you won’t like this. End of story. But if you enjoy his style of comedy, then this will be right up your alley. I personally enjoy Ferrell. His oafish, egotistical buffoon act makes me crack up. He plays the exact same character here that he does in every movie. The only difference is he’s facing off with dinosaurs instead of gay French racecar drivers, rival skaters, or homicidal stepbrothers. This is Ferrell thrown into “Jurassic Park,” so you can see the comedy potential. And his ad-libbing works well with Danny McBride as Will Stanton. Like Ferrell, McBride plays the exact same character he always does – a big talking redneck with a large dose of sleaze. McBride and Ferrell each take turns sharing the spotlight and the result is a fun pairing.

There’s another surprise character in the film – the T-Rex dubbed Grumpy. They really gave the dino a personality and the rivalry between him and Ferrell is quite funny. If the T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” specifically targeted Jeff Goldblum and approached him with the attitude of, “I’m going to make your life a living hell, then eat you,” you get the idea of what is going on here. Their relationship goes to comic extremes, but it I enjoyed it. Another surprise – Matt Lauer. You’ve seen his tense exchange with Ferrell in the commercial and trailers. That leads to a payoff at the end of the movie where Lauer appears again. It really had me laughing and I applaud Lauer for being a good sport.

I loved the setting of the “Land of the Lost,” too. You’ll see a Viking ship in one place, a 50′s drive-in in another. You’ll see a piece of a shopping mall next to a UFO. It’s a fantastic surreal setting for the story.

What Didn’t Work:
Since I loved “Land of the Lost” as a kid and my children had seen a lot of commercials for the movie on TV, I was considering taking my family to this screening. After watching the film, I’m glad I decided to leave them at home. There is a lot of language and sexual humor on this movie. They end up saying most of George Carlin’s “7 Dirty Words” at one point or another, plus a few they do allow you to say on TV. You’d expect that in a PG-13 film, but probably not one advertised on Nickelodeon. The sexual humor is way more than I was expecting, too. A lot of it will probably go over kids’ heads, like Will telling Holly she was going to “get wet” when they went on the cave ride. But some of it was more blatant. Will displays a mug featuring women’s breasts. Cha-Ka repeatedly grabs Holly’s breasts. There are a bunch of nearly naked women at the end. You get the idea. I expect a lot of parents are going to take their kids to this movie then regret it. This is a case where the PG-13 rating really needs to be heeded.

The above also highlights another problem with “Land of the Lost” – it never quite finds the right tone. It’s too light and cartoony for an adult comedy, but too risqué to qualify as a family film. I think it’s going to take a hit at the box office because of this. They probably should have trimmed out the sex jokes and language and gone the family route. At least then they could have cashed in like “Night at the Museum.”

Unfortunately, Anna Friel as Holly Cantrell is simply OK in her role. She’s mainly the straight man for Ferrell, McBride, and Jorma Taccone as Cha-Ka. You could have put any pretty actress in her role and the movie wouldn’t have been any different. They needed a comedienne that could have stood on equal ground with the boys and improvised along with them. That would have made the character significantly more noteworthy.

This is also another movie where most of the story is spoiled by the trailers. Pretty much every big scene is shown to one degree or another in the commercials and previews. Fortunately, a few great laughs are still left unspoiled and there’s one dinosaur filled action scene that I absolutely loved, but I’d say 80-85% of the movie is shown in the promotions.

The Bottom Line:
“Land of the Lost” is a fun movie, but only if you’re a Will Ferrell or Danny McBride fan. Non-fans and young kids should stay at home for this one.

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