LAND OF THE LOST
STARRING: Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna
Friel, Jorma Taccone
2009, 93 Minutes, Directed by:
from 1974 to 1976, Sid and Marty Krofft’s
Land of the Lost television series seized the imagination of a generation
tickled to travel to far off dimensions, populated by the finest creatures a
five-dollar production budget could buy. Far be it from me to pooh-pooh the
ravenous nostalgia of others, but Lost was also borderline unwatchable; a
glacially executed kids show that appeared more interested in locating creative
ways to stall for 22 minutes than pursuing the more fantastical fringes of its
Now comedy kingpin Will Ferrell steps up to the plate to reimagine
Lost as a slickly budgeted, thrill-a-minute summer extravaganza, and
while the film cheerfully dusts off Sleestaks, Chakas, and roaring dinosaurs to
enchant the faithful, it seems the new film somehow lost access to an adequate
script along the way.
Disgraced and dejected, Dr.
Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) has lost faith in his meticulous research to find a
portal to another dimension through the harvesting of tachyons. Finding an
enthusiastic admirer in Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel), Rick sets out again to
prove himself to the doubting world and Today show host Matt Lauer, employing
Will Stanton (Danny McBride) to help on his mission. Venturing into unknown
territory on a yellow raft, the trio is sucked through a vortex and brought to a
sun-caked mystery world, where they meet a young, troublemaking ape-like
creature named Chaka (Jorma Taccone).
Chased all over the map by a vicious
Tyrannosaurus rex, the gang stumbles into the lair of the reptilian Sleestaks,
finding one of their banished leaders in dire need of Rick’s scientific mastery.
"Needless sex jokes and abrasive cursing makes it mean-spirited
to family audiences . . ."
Had Ferrell and director Brad
Silberling gingerly ventured down the more obvious route of homage for their
take on Land of the Lost, perhaps any complaints levelled against the
film wouldn’t have mattered. Nostalgia would have replaced doubt; a cheese ball
take on a cheese ball show would’ve been bullet-proof against unfavorable
comment. Unfortunately, the production decided to hip up Lost for the big
screen, and the results confuse a great deal more than amuse.
As much as Silberling thirsts
to modernize Rick, Will, and Holly’s routine expedition for younger audiences,
the contemporary Lost remains startlingly faithful to the original
series. The production takes remarkable care to preserve creature designs and
recognizable locations (enhanced here with extensive desert scenery), adding the
occasional inside joke to please those with a vast Krofft education.
obvious adoration for the source material woven throughout the feature, and the
candy-colored ornamentation within the movie creates a convincing illusion of
Unfortunately, the reality of
this updated Lost is sensing how mean-spirited the whole enterprise is,
especially to family audiences. For reasons that are completely mystifying,
Ferrell and Co. have gone the PG-13 raunchy route with the remake, introducing
random and needless sex jokes, abrasive cursing, and a few unexpected bits of
graphic violence to impart the material an edge that’s completely foreign to the
It’s an alienating
approach that is sure to charm teenage audiences, but few others. Sid and Marty
Krofft did many a peculiar thing with their original Lost vision, yet
they were always careful to provide a gentle environment for viewers of all
The updated Lost kicks aside all that goodwill and organizes consistently
unimaginative ventures (e.g. Chaka loves to fondle Holly’s breasts, masturbation
one-liners, and Rick and Will observing the Sleestaks having sex) that polarize
the potential four-quadrant audience gold rush for the feature.
Lest I sound like a crusty old
man wagging my finger at the naughty attributes of Lost, let me assure
you, if the picture held a convincing comedic viewpoint, all would be forgiven.
As it stands, this version of Lost feels haphazardly scripted on cocktail
napkins and creatively fueled by paychecks and a series of dares. It’s Ferrell
harvesting the wilted fields of absurdity, turning mild 1970’s entertainment
into a tuneless slapstick comedy complete with gross-out urine and fecal matter
gags, dreadful Chorus Line show tune fixations, drug-induced stupors, and
unsightly improvisational detours.
McBride’s flavorless presence only eggs
Ferrell on further. For the devout, Ferrell’s spastic reactions to the
nightmarish world of hulking predators and black-eyed aliens will surely provide
a steaming serving of comedic comfort food. For those already weary of Ferrell’s
shtick, Lost is salt in the weeping wound.
While Lost mimics the
essentials of the Krofft creation (though abundant CG replaces endearing
puppetry and shoestring ingenuity), much of the film diverts into new,
unpleasant directions. Land of the Lost was never worthy of deification to begin
with, but I’d take the Kroffts’ crude filmmaking skills and limited coin any day
over Will Ferrell sprinting ineffectively around a 100-million-dollar
wonderland, making it up as he goes.
- Brian Orndorf