Land Of The Lost

Land Of The Lost


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

If you're a fan of the classic TV series Land Of The Lost, beware. Though it affectionately acknowledges many of the series' tropes, this film has an entirely different attitude to its material and has nothing of the original's character. If you're a fan of Will Ferrell films, however, you may find it moderately enjoyable.

This form of parodic slapstick comedy isn't everyone's cup of tea and it seems blissfully unaware of the real humour in its target, but it is, to its great advantage, played absolutely straight. Unlike films like Disaster Movie and Meet The Spartans, which spent half their time laughing at their own jokes and never realised when a skit had got old, this benefits from judicious editing. It has a lot of material to work with and it makes the most of it. Whilst Ferrell is a bland lead, despite his surprisingly accurate eyebrow-based impersonation of Indiana Jones, he knows his limits and stays firmly within them. Anna Friel, meanwhile, provides a strong heroine, and it's refreshing to see an Englishwoman in an American film who isn't trying to sound like the Queen. Danny McBride is likeable enough in the underdeveloped role of comedy sidekick Will and it's only really the apeman character who grates, acting like a mentally subnormal refugee from Tim Burton's epically misjudged Planet Of The Apes.

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The story, such as it is, is pretty simple. Ferrel's inventor hero, a 'quantum archaeologist' (does anyone in the film industry understand what 'quantum' means?) has created a machine that can warp space time; he plans to use it to skip through to parallel dimensions and solve the energy crisis. Given short shrift by the scientific establishment he is approached by a young doctoral student who persuades him to try a field test, with predictable consequences. Cue the exploration of a lost world, a personal feud between Ferrell and a T-rex, and a series of encounters with alien lizard men bent on taking over the universe.

All this is filtered through the familiar sieve of lowbrow humour. There are sexist jokes (it's okay because we get to look down on the people who make them), there are jokes about pee and poo, and there's a protracted scene involving experimentation with the local drugs. Woven amongst this are occasional bits of genuinely surreal humour, such as an assortment of hungry dinosaurs attacking an ice cream van, devouring cones. The dinosaur effects are crudely handled and one can see the holes, but they're still enough to make one jump in places. Still, it would be easier if it were possible to care a bit more about the fate of our heroes.

If you like this kind of comedy - and many kids will, even if their parents hesitate - then Land Of The Lost is okay. It's a shame, though, that this lazy effort will probably stop any efforts to make a better adaptation of a series which was much more fun than it could hope to be.

Reviewed on: 29 Jul 2009
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Three modern humans travel through a timewarp to a parallel dimension where they have to battle lizard men and a T-rex in this reimagining of the classic TV series.
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Director: Brad Silberling

Writer: Chris Henchy, Dennis McNicholas

Starring: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Jorma Taccone, John Boylan

Year: 2009

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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