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Starring: Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, Jorma Taccone
Directed by: Brad Siberling
Written by: Chris Henchy, Dennis McNicholas
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 102 mins
DVD Release: October 13, 2009

All right, I admit it – I went into this film expecting the very least. I expected a slap-dash Will Ferrell affair akin to his other recent bombs, such as basketball disaster Semi-Pro, figure skating mistake Blades of Glory or the miserable second half of Step Brothers. Perhaps it had something to do with my exceptionally low expectations (seriously, Aliens vs. Predator expectations), or the fact that, in all honesty, I really do like Will Ferrell, but nevertheless I was pleasantly surprised by Land of the Lost, which despite its awkward flirtation with both adult and kiddy content ends up being a reasonably funny rental.

Dr. Rick Marshall (Ferrell) is a tachyon scientist, a specialist in the art of time travel. Unfortunately, nobody seems to believe his whacky theories about parallel dimensions as a source of alternative energy, and after an on-air brouhaha with Today host Matt Lauer Marshall ends up stripped of his remaining credit. He whiles away the next three years confusing nine-year-olds in a random elementary school, pining for a time and a place where his ideas might be both proven and respected.

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All of that self-pity comes to an end with the arrival of beautiful Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel), a sultry Briton whose deep belief in Marshall’s whacky theories left her exiled from illustrious Cambridge University. Cantrell is able to convince Marshall to construct a machine that can open up a time space continuum, the tachyon amplifier (that really just looks like an old dot matrix printer with a keypad glued to it), which he does over the course of a single evening. Granted, this is all ludicrous, non-sensical, even obscene – but as with most Ferrell routines, it pays to shut down your brain.

With the tachyon amplifier ready for action, Cantrell and Marshall drive to a nearby desert where tachyon readings are at their highest, offering the best chance to open up a dimensional portal. They’re taken to the site, Devil’s Cave (which looks something like a long-forgotten ‘50s carnival ride) by tour bum and useless gift shop operator Will Stanton (Danny McBride). Halfway through the ride the amplifier opens the swirling vortex, rushing the trio into The Land of the Lost, a strange, unexplained universe whose existence makes about as much sense as a tachyon amplifier. Inconveniently enough, the amplifier is lost during the whole universe-traveling experience and Cantrell, Marshall, and Stanton – along with their otherworldly primate companion Cha-Ka (Jorma Taccone) – spend most of the film averting dinosaur jaws and freaky alien claws while looking for it.

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My best advice for digesting this plot: for the love of God, relax and leave your brain firmly switched to the ‘off’ position. Much of the film feels like a Saturday Night Live sketch, with heavy improvisation by goofball Ferrell and the steadily rising McBride, who after successful appearances in funny flicks like The Foot Fist Way and Tropic Thunder is about ready to emerge a leading funnyman all his own. Very little of the plot twists or action make any sense -- the dinosaurs are freakishly intelligent, Chantrell is somehow able to immediately comprehend the babbling of semi-primate Cha-Ka, and the aliens, who resemble neither dinosaurs nor apes, speak fluent Oxford English. Whatever.

If you’re able to simply relax and enjoy the improv that has made Ferrell so popular (fine examples include Anchorman, Old School, and his SNL work), you’ll enjoy Land of the Lost. However, if he irks you in any way it would be best to stay far, far away.

Of course, the movie’s success or failure is not entirely down to Ferrell. The plot, although so ridiculous as to make it funny, sometimes bobbles between kiddie and adult content. The environments, Ferrell’s slapstick, and the many poo jokes are entirely appropriate for the very young. However, the movie will sometimes offer rather adult sequences, including a stoner scene, several sexual references, and the suggestion that only a T-Rex is dumber than the Polish people. Still, these sequences, while certainly edgy, are not obscene and the movie is more or less appropriate for kids – but parents may want to watch with vigilance.

Also, fans of the earlier series, of which I’m not personally familiar, probably won’t recognize much here. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

Video :3.5stars:

I watched this on DVD and in even that format the environments were deep, lush, and colourful. If none of my warnings about the movie’s storyline or its stepping away from the original series have scared you to this point, it would most certainly be worth a hi-def rental. Still, even the DVD looked very good.

Audio :3stars:

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Showtunes abound on this DVD; it’s part of the writers’ attempt to poke as much fun as possible at the original series and the goofball slapstick acting styles of McBride and Ferrell. They’re actually quite humorous and memorable and set the film apart from Ferrell’s other, fairly similar flicks.

DVD Extras :2.5stars:

Given the improv talent of the actors involved, the extras seem a bit thin. There are deleted scenes and two special additions both masterminded by McBride. The first, “A Day in the Life of a Big-Time Movie Star” basically pokes fun at McBride, who bumbles around the Land of the Lost set irritating everyone. The second, “Devil’s Canyon Gift Shop and Tour” is more of the same. They’re amusing but never laugh-out-loud funny, and certainly don’t reveal much about the movie’s making. That’s left for a director commentary by Brad Siberling.

Movie :3.5stars:

Overall, it’s unlikely anyone will really love The Land of the Lost, but Ferrell and the growing number of McBride fans will at least enjoy it.
 

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Re: Land of the Lost DVD Review

Thanks, Brando! I have had this one sitting on my movie shelf and I've been meaning to watch it, too.
 
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