Land of the Lost (Universal Pictures, PG-13)

film_land-of-the-lost_sm.jpgLand of the Lost is a lowbrow take on time travel and alternate realities, based loosely on the cheesy old TV show.





Land of the Lost is a silly, stupid movie, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining at times. Many dumb films are fun to watch in that base way we’re all familiar with, and though it’s not consistent even on that level, the film has a handful of good laughs.

A lowbrow take on time travel and alternate realities (based loosely on the cheesy old TV show) that also blends elements of Jurassic Park, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Indiana Jones-style adventure flicks, LOTL concerns the efforts of a wacky, self-important scientist named Dr. Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell, actually toning down his comic persona to a surprising extent) to build and test a "tachyon amplifier." The device (looking mostly like a glorified boombox) is supposed to allow one to travel through the "space/time vortex," or something like that. Before Marshall is prepared to undertake such a journey, and sensing failure, he and his attractive assistant Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) suddenly find themselves sucked through said vortex while on a truly cheesy theme park ride narrated by redneck nimrod Will Stanton (Danny McBride). They are soon confronting dinosaurs (including a T Rex that objects to being told by Marshall that it has a "brain the size of a walnut"), horny humanoids (one of whom, named "Chaka," becomes their traveling companion after Holly removes his hands from her chest for the third time—a rather tiresome bit of frat boy humor), and weird creatures of various types. These include a race of bug-eyed, lizard-like aliens led by an evil commander intent on breaching the space/time vortex and freely traveling around destroying other civilizations. But wait, Marshall can’t seem to keep that damn tachyon thing safely around his neck! And unless it keeps playing the show tunes he programmed into it, all those pterodactyl eggs might hatch!

Huh? Well, exactly…there is weirdness galore in this movie, as Lynchian Americana elements from our present, rampaging dinos from long ago and futuristic aliens all collide in a ridiculous but sometimes chuckle-worthy mishmash. That weirdness and the unexpected bursts of extra silliness do tend to keep you somewhat interested (watching Ferrell get bitten by a gigantic mosquito is a minor hoot, and the appearance of Today Show host Matt Lauer in a notable cameo provides at least two major laughs). But it’s really not enough. Director Brad Silberling, mostly known for TV work and that Lemony Snicket movie a couple of years ago, seems to be laughing more than anyone, but the jokes often fall flat and the dialogue is rather witless. Scenes involving dino urine and the consumption of a plant that induces a psychedelic high are way too long. Also, there’s almost no chemistry between Ferrell and the otherwise lovely Ms. Friel. Admittedly, the film is mostly aimed at teen boys and fans of the TV show and all those Journey to the Center of Whatever movies. And for all-out goofiness, you could probably do worse. But other than the effectively raucous T. Rex and those lizard creatures, there isn’t much in this film that really leaves an impression. At every turn, it settles for the lowest common denominator, and the actors never rise above that. Land of the Lost is "lost," all right…as well as aimless, stranded and uninhabited by intelligent beings. | Kevin Renick

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