Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review: Land of the Lost

Review of Land of the Lost

The tag line of Land of the Lost reads, "Right place. Wrong time." In the case of theater and showtime, they're actually both wrong. If you get your jollies out of groping primates, dino urine, and unusual bowel obstructions, then you will enjoy this latest Will Ferrell turn. If not, you might be wondering whether Dr. Rick Marshall's Tacheon Amplifier time machine can transport you to the credits.

Dr. Rick Marshall (Ferrell) is a scientist who is looking for his big break. After a dry spell spent initiating sassy grade school kids into the wonders of science, he invents the Tacheon Amplifier, a device which can open up dimensions in time in a sideways fashion. After appearing as a laughing stock on the Today show with Matt Lauer, Rick gets a visit from wide-eyed scientist, Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel). She shows Marshall a modern fossil - excuse the oxymoron - with a connection to Marshall. This seems to prove Marshall's theory of portals into other dimensions.

The two head off for the desert, where, Holly says, Tacheon readings are strong. The hitch is that the area where this is happening is in a tunnel of horrors, a sideshow attraction that two Rednecks, Ernie and Will (Danny McBride of Tropic Thunder). Marshall and Holly have to suffer the indignity of paying admission and getting a pitch on fireworks in order to win the Nobel Prize - maybe. Will acts as guide on their raft trip into the cave. The Tacheon device starts an earthquake that opens up a portal into an alternate Earth.

Prepare yourself for this Earth. It's weirder than the one they started in. The place is populated with dinos, strange primates called Pakuni, lizard men called Sleestaks, and higher- functioning (which is not saying much here) time travellers called Altrusians. The team has to find its way back to the Earth they know to claim their Nobels (or junior high school science prize, whichever comes first). The set up happens way too fast, so that the weird Earth the team comes into doesn't get the initial laughs it might have gotten.

Much of the humor depends on gay jokes. There is a tension between the men's macho heroics and their effeminate sides. There is also a good tension between Rick's and Holly's professional respect and the hots they feel for eachother. The humor is all typical of guy flicks. The team's companion is a primate of the Pakuni tribe named Cha-Ka, who has a penchant for groping his female and male friends. A strange narcotic causes the men to have a strange trip in a stranger "yard sale" version of Earth. Rick has to cover himself in dino urine to get a T-Rex they call "Grumpy" off the scent. And then there is the manner in which Rick gets himself out of the innards of me, you don't want to know.

What does work here is that nothing is lost by sacrificing the mystery and danger of the original Sid and Marty Krofft TV series of 1974-76 in place of the comic take in this endeavor. That series suffered horrendous acting and writing that got in the way of the frights and mystery. No loss. There is a loss in the lack of sly in-jokes on the original series. Why can't Rick strum out the full theme song, which was good, on his banjo?

It is not surprising the writers, Chris Henchy and Dennis McNichols dug up a corny Saturday morning series out of the dinosaur graveyard as a repository for all their male sophmoric gags. You can't say they spoiled a classic.

Land of the Lost is rated PG-13 for scads of sexual and bathroom humor.Check out the cameo of The Zarn, vocalized by Leonard Nimoy, but sounding like Jason Robards.

Stuart Kurtz Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

1 comment:

Enik1138 said...

If anyone reading this review prefers some GOOD Land of the Lost, you might want to visit my fan site with coverage of both versions of the TV series (and the crappy movie).