Movies

Mattywood

Land of the Lost (2009)
Directed by Brad Silberling
Rated PG-13

The biggest joke is that Universal spent $100 million on this dinosaur turd.

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Land of the Lost
The Marshalls... NOT.
Photo: Universal Pictures

Back in the mid-'70s Sid and Marty Krofft's Land of the Lost was a Saturday morning kids' show that centered around the Marshall family, Rick, Holly and Will, and their adventures in a prehistoric age of ape men, lizard people and dinosaurs. Generally dismissed because of its shockingly amateurish production values (acting, special effects, costumes, sets and whatever else), Land of the Lost actually stands up well in the grand scheme of its target audience, the 5-year-old set that can watch Teletubbies and Power Rangers with wide-eyed amazement.

And, given the series debuted more than 30 years ago, it's still something of a marvel in its own right, with stop-motion dinosaurs terrorizing the Marshalls years before Luke Skywalker rode a tauntaun on Hoth.

But all of that is irrelevant in this big-screen adaptation.

While Rick (Will Ferrell, Ron Burgundy), Holly (Anna Friel, Goal!) and Will (Danny McBride, Tropic Thunder) are back in forename, this trio's not a family. Rick's a "quantum paleontologist," Holly's a Cambridge hotty who has the guts to admit she thinks Rick's a genius, and Will is a trailer-trash entrepreneur, for lack of a better term, who runs a shoddy thrill house in the middle of bumblefart nowhere.

The clunky trappings of Will's cheesy boat ride and tourist trap starts out holding promise of a playful send-up of the cheesy TV series but instead it leads to a complete letdown as the threesome enter a vortex and wind up in, yes, the land of the lost.

This Movie Sucks Like a Vortex

Land of the Lost didn't have to be turned into a lame comedy. The producers could've gone a little higher-minded and shot for something like a real thrill ride, maybe something like Pirates of the Caribbean or even Back to the Future.

But no, instead two TV writers (Dennis McNicholas, a Saturday Night Live scribe who inflicted The Ladies Man movie on the general public, and Chris Henchy, Entourage) make absolutely no effort to stretch themselves and instead regurgitate humor that would fit much better in just about any movie starring Seth Rogen.

Land of the Lost

It's virtually impossible to think of a time when watching Will Ferrell fondle himself would be considered funny. It happens here. It's not funny.

Will Ferrell ever tire of his own shtick? He hits one note then hits it over and over and over again.

Sadly, this monstrosity of bad taste shoots strictly for the lowest common denominator and is fixated on homophobia and anatomical humor. Why couldn't the humor have at least been tangentially related to the characters and the situations rather than Porky's?

There's one modestly humorous bit about T-Rex and Rick in a battle of wits (the former bringing more to the fight than the latter). After Rick makes a couple comparisons between a walnut and the T-Rex brain, the dinosaur catapults a giant, massive walnut at Rick. Nice. But the end game of their feud is completely, utterly lame. It falls back, once again, on the ol' Ferrell shtick.

Producers of the Lost

That some pinhead out there thought marrying Land of the Lost with raunchy humor was a good idea is bad enough. Now, reportedly, director Brad Silberling (Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events) is talking up the possibility of an extended, "raunchier" cut on home video some time down the road. Insipid. Purely insipid.

Who's to blame? Surprise, surprise! Sid and Marty Krofft themselves. Apparently they're totally comfortable with others defecating on their creations and they have aided and abetted this nonsense as producers of the movie. Sid turns 80 next month; Marty's 72. Surely whatever their explanation might be, the words "desperate" and "cashing out" must come into play.

And, perhaps even more disgraceful, that old TV show had a lot more SPFX moxie and production savvy.

Sure, the new T-Rex is pretty cool, as long as he fills the whole screen. Any scenes involving interaction between the CGI dinosaur and the humans are just as bad as the '70s effects. And, OK, the Sleestaks, those iconic lizard people from the TV show, have better mouth movement (there was no lip movement whatsoever in the TV show) but that's not saying much. They're still obviously actors in ill-fitting lizard suits

• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.

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