|By Zach Patterson||Sunday, 5 Jul 2009|
This review is only about a month late since it came out in theaters, but regardless, it’s notable perhaps due to its failure more than anything. The movie isn’t particularly good, and the idea feels about 5 years too late, but it isn’t a terrible movie. It is a confusing movie however, as the original show (and remake) was a children’s show, and this is most definitely a movie for a young adult audience.
Without going too much into the plot of the movie, what you really need to know is Will Ferrell is the lead as a paleontologist, Anna Friel (the girl from Pushing Daisies) plays the love interest, and Danny McBride is the crude, rude amusement park operator, and they end up in the Land of the Lost, where time is all jumbled together and parts of the past and current time have merged into one strange land. While I appreciated the casting going in, Will Ferrell’s character just never quite works in the movie, and it brings the movie down more than anything. I mean, when Will Ferrell is on, he’s great. When he’s not, the results become…mixed. Here, he alternates between bumbling awkward scientist doofus and a loud mouth ridiculous SNL skit that has gone on far too long. He isn’t really that funny through the entire movie, though later in the movie, he’s much better than the beginning where all his parts seemed to fall on an unamused audience. In general, he just wasn’t a character that was all that likable, and it made it hard to root for him. I thought Anna Friel did an excellent job, and Danny McBride had his moments, but casting him as a raunchy sidekick just seemed weird to me. As I said earlier, it’s based on a kid’s show, and in the first ten minutes of the movie, McBride makes it clear that it’s not a kid’s movie. All in all, he ends up being one of the brighter spots, but it’s pretty important to dissociate your expectations of the Land of the Lost franchise to really enjoy this movie.
Aside from the casting, I feel like everything about the movie that was attempted both succeeded and failed in a way. For example, the special effects in the movie seemed like they were supposed to feel kinda retro, cheesy, colorful, and taken tongue-in-cheek. In that respect, they succeed, as they give you this colorful, ridiculous world where you don’t take too much of it seriously, but then…well, the entire movie just feels cheesy and cheap in a hard-to-explain way. It’s like high production values to achieve a low production value look, and it just never works quite right. Similarly, the plot works as a series of skits and action sequences to achieve a goal (find the transmitter, save the world, get back home), but the transitions between sequences feels choppy and a little ramshackle in construction. I feel like the movie needed more to it in order to flesh out the world they were in and give the characters a little more characterization (the movie felt extremely short, even though apparently it was over an hour and a half). It just felt like the characters were in one spot, then a completely different, then another, etc. in each different scene. It led to lots of different interesting locales, but they could have done more with less.
Also, the whole resolution to the plot with the character Enik was just weird and anticlimactic. It was one of those sequences where they should have gone with an action sequence with some humor, and it felt more like a middling humorous ending with some light action, so that part was disappointing. However, most of the rest of the ending was actually pretty funny up to the finale and after it, and the last 10 minutes and extra scenes in the credits did a lot to redeem the movie as a fun disposable flick that wasn’t completely forgettable. Additionally, the music throughout the movie is pretty good, with some references to the show’s music, and the whole end credit art montage is great, as it has a very cool 60′s retro look as it scrolled through some of the movie’s scenes and characters.
And while I was a little harsh on a movie that some would likely enjoy, it certainly wasn’t awful, it just could have been really good had Will Ferrell been given a role better suited to his humor, and the script had been ironed out a little. As it is, there’s actually some pretty funny stuff as the movie hits the halfway-end point, such as the T-Rex showdown and the fruit that got them all wasted. However, it’s also very uneven and there’s a lot of jokes and scenes that just don’t work very well. It’s worth seeing if you like any of the actors or want some light laughs, but I wouldn’t be in any rush to go out and see it before it leaves your local theater.