- Rated PG-13
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Will Harris
f you grew up during the 1970s and spent any portion of your Saturday mornings in front of the TV, then you watched the work of Sid and Marty Krofft. You had to. It was virtually inescapable. While productions like “H.R. Pufnstuf” and “Lidsville” tend to be remembered because they appear to be the products of a drug-induced state of consciousness (even though Marty Krofft has said, “If I'd done as many drugs with my brother as they say we did, I'd be dead today!”), there’s one series which has earned a significant amount of respect amongst hardcore sci-fi fans: “Land of the Lost.” Sure, the kids remember it for the dinosaurs, the Sleestaks, and the monkey-looking Cha-Ka, but lurking behind the dodgy acting and low-budget special effects is a look into the concept of alternate dimensions that blew many a pre-teen’s mind – including the one belonging to Bullz-Eye’s own Ross Ruediger.
Sadly, however, the cinematic adaptation of “Land of the Lost” contains only enough elements from the original series to infuriate the old-school fans about what might’ve been.
Will Ferrell plays Rick Marshall, a paleontologist whose theories about alternate dimensions as a solution to the fuel shortage have left him lecturing to elementary school students. Things begin to change for him, however, when he’s paid a visit by fellow scientist Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel), who’s found an artifact which has convinced her that Rick’s onto something. The two of them quickly set forth on, yes, a routine expedition, one which finds them using the services of one Will Stanton (Danny McBride) as their guide. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go quite as expected, and the trio abruptly find themselves trapped in an alternate dimension which they eventually come to refer to as…the Land of the Lost. The place is littered with various items which have fallen through similar dimensional portals, including cars, buildings, and even a motel pool that’s still filled with water. Unfortunately, it’s also populated by dinosaurs, an ape-like race who call themselves the Pakuni, and – woo-hoo! – the lizard-esque villains known as the Sleestak.
It cannot be denied that director Brad Silberling’s vision of the Land of the Lost is visually stunning, though this should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen his previous films, “City of Angels” or “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” both of which can at least be said to have looked great. The problem with “Land of the Lost” is its script, which has been tailor-made for the average Will Ferrell fan – and no, you should not perceive that as a compliment. It’s one thing to take a concept and provide a parodic take on the material, but there’s a highly annoying dichotomy at work within “Land of the Lost,” where every astounding event must be tempered by some disconcerting attempt at humor, such as Rick pouring dinosaur urine all over himself or Will daring Rick to French-kiss Cha-Ka. Seeing the Sleestaks hissing and slowly stalking their way across the big screen is just as much of a thrill as you’d hoped it would be, and they’ve been re-imagined just enough to make them threatening to today’s audiences, but did we really need to see them making out?
Even if that concept does appeal to you, Universal should still be ashamed of themselves for filling the film with as much adult humor as they have; there were more than a few parents in the audience of the advance screening who’d brought younger kids and found themselves horrified. Yes, it’s PG-13, but you can’t blame them for letting their misty, water-colored memories of the original series lead them to presume that it’d still be at least semi-kid-friendly.
“Land of the Lost” will almost certainly leave fans of the original series shaking their heads in dismay, but it will have the same effect on those who prefer to have their comedies rise about the level of prehistoric potty humor. Worse, it will likely only serve to cement the mistruth that the only people who enjoy the work of Sid and Marty Krofft are brain-dead stoners. If they were going to make “Land of the Lost” into a comedy, then the least they could’ve done was make it an intelligent one; instead, they turned it into the biggest disappointment of the summer movie season.