Watching Will Ferrell run away from herky-jerky, stop-motion dinosaurs is a concept that is inherently funny. Unfortunately director Brad Silberling doesn’t use stop-motion dinosaurs or anything else that might be regarded as a sight-gag in his attempt to turn the extremely low-budget, classic Saturday morning television series Land of the Lost into a full-blown comedy. Instead he buries his movie in the latest of high-tech wizardry and, unexpectedly, treats the whole Land of the Lost mythos in a fairly businesslike fashion.
It’s a huge disappointment. Land of the Lost was ripe for hilarious parody. Poke fun at the series and the whole, now somewhat silly, low-budget stop-motion genre and maybe they’d have had something. Instead, this is a pretty standard Will Ferrell movie. The jokes come not from the film’s ridiculous premise or even from the outlandish situations Will Ferrell is thrust into. Most of those are played seriously. The film only attempts to be funny whenever whatever CGI action moment it’s just put us through is over with and Ferrell stands around to engage in semi-improvisational speeches designed to make himself look like an ass. Land of the Lost isn’t the butt of the joke, Will Ferrell is, and we’ve seen this movie before.
At least it doesn’t waste any time in getting down to dino-business. The film opens and within minutes Ferrell’s crackpot scientist character Dr. Rick Marshall has fallen through a time warp with his assistant Holly (Anna Friel) and a hapless tour guide named Will (Danny McBride). They land in a bizarre world which has merged both space and time, resulting in a place where dinosaurs roam hellish jungles populated by fearsome creatures, next door to abandoned Motel swimming pools. Again, this setting should be hilarious. It’s a place where anything can happen, where insanity is the norm, where comedic opportunities lurk around every corner. This script ignores them.
Fans of the television series will at least, be pleased to see many of the show’s staples present. The Sleestaks are still Sleestaks and the place is still flat out weird. Chaka’s (Jorma Taccone) a sort of man-ape is a central character, though he spends most of his time groping Holly. The show’s theme song even makes an appearance. The main characters are of course different. In the original show, Rick, Will, and Holly are a family. This time they’re just a bunch of random strangers who botch a routine expedition. Still the characters work, or they would work, if only they did anything funny with them.
Dr. Marshall runs from things and screams, and when he’s done screaming he and his companions engage in long-winded setups which usually result in some sort of tired sex joke or occasionally, drug humor. We can watch Ferrell get high in literally any movie, why the hell would we want to waste time watching him tripping balls in Land of the Lost? What’s the point in being high when you’re in the fucking land of the lost, the most crazy, insane place ever to show up on any movie or television screen? Yet here he is, for some inexplicable reason out of his mind, hallucinating on the local equivalent of LSD. Who wrote this idiotic script? What were they thinking? Who needs LSD when you can literally turn your head six inches to the left and watch slow-moving lizard people engaged in combat with an abandoned Bob’s Big Boy? The thing that Silberling and everyone involved in this film simply does not seem to get is that it’s the world they’re in that’s funny, not the people who have landed in it. The humor should come from the way they react to this insanity, instead the jokes are partitioned from it and set off to the side as if they’re happening somewhere else. What a waste.