WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Dr. Rick Marshall a washed-up scientist whose crackpot theories have been widely derided finds himself and his associates sucked through a “space-time vortex ” and they land in an alternate universe of ferocious dinosaurs and slow-stalking reptiles known as Sleestaks. Their only hope to get out alive is with the help of their new friend a human-faced primate named Chaka who’s trying to get back to his tribe when he runs into this whacked-out gang of nowhere nomads. The stakes are high. If they succeed they will become national icons. If they fail they will be stuck in this “land of the lost” forever.
WHO’S IN IT?
Who better than Will Ferrell to dust off this old Sid and Marty Krofft series the first live-action show to feature dinosaurs before becoming one itself? Ferrell ups the gross-out gag quotient throws in a couple of F-bombs to guarantee a PG-13 gets chased by a T-Rex and plays opposite a guy in a monkey suit. It’s surreally silly but the actor is obviously comfortable throwing this stuff against the wall to see what sticks. He’s helped enormously by the presence of cohort Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder Pineapple Express) who utters some of film’s best lines as a redneck souvenirist who unwittingly joins the journey. Their duet of Cher’s “Believe” is a highlight believe it or not. Beautiful Anna Friel does nicely as Marshall’s research assistant and Jorma Taccone whose day job is writing for Saturday Night Live steals his scenes as Chaka even while being forced to emote in cheesy monkey garments.
Although director Brad Silberling honors the spirit of the original Land of the Lost series he’s fortunately spiced things up considerably with state-of-the-art visual effects and most importantly a cheeky attitude. It’s just good dumb fun and less pretentious than a lot of overhyped summer blockbuster wannabes. The CGI dinosaurs take Jurassic Park one step further and are highly entertaining — particularly the constipated T-Rex who shows a sensitive side and takes on human qualities.
A lot of the comic bits are hit-or-miss and Ferrell and company don’t seem shy about leaving in some well-worn gags that might have been better off on the cutting room floor. Is there an editor in the house?
As Will serenades his colleagues with the theme from Land of the Lost he doesn’t realize a prehistoric bug is delivering a sting to end all stings with hilarious side effects. A hallucinatory drug trip at an abandoned motel pool (don’t ask) is also NOT to be missed.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN….
Ferrell starts demonstrating the benefits of urine as a dinosaur deterrent. Ugh! Did we really need THIS?
BEST CORPORATE SYNERGY?
NBC’s Today Show gets lots of exposure in this Universal production (both are owned by GE) as host Matt Lauer (very funny) bookends the movie with extensive interviews with Ferrell’s Dr. Rick Marshall character. Stay through the credits for yet one final Today Show plug that could be a setup for the sequel.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
It looks good on a big screen but the studio is offering a deal on the DVD set of all the original episodes so a home theater Land of the Lost movie/TV series marathon is not out of the question.