You’re either going to love this movie or hate it, and I suppose the mood you’re in when you watch it will determine which one it is. There’s really no grey area. Except for me. On the one hand, I enjoy a good Will Ferrell comedy (even though he’s never been one of my favourites), on the other, there’s really nothing to enjoy about this movie except for how incredibly crazy it is. Land Of The Lost is a terrible narrative — based on an old TV series which I know nothing about — but a wonderful visual treat, and that’s precisely where my dilemma lies. Do I love it or hate it?
We meet Dr. Rick Marshall (who could very well have been named Will Ferrell), an arrogant know-it-all of a scientist who believes he’s discovered parallel time travel, which simply means that instead of going backwards or forwards in time, we go sideways, combining multiple eras into one. He has created a device, called a tachyon meter, that triggers this travel, and the only person who believes him is his colleague, Holly (Anna Friel). The film opens with a very Ferrell-esque scene in which he appears on the Matt Lauer show trying to promote himself, his ideas, and his book, only to be shot down, not only by Lauer, but apparently by Stephen Hawking as well.
Holly persuades Rick to start his device, and for reasons I can’t quite explain, they choose to do it in an isolated man-made cave, complete with a faux river. There — again for reasons I can’t explain — they meet Will (Danny McBride), the tour guide of the cave. Together, the three stumble into the land of the lost, where they meet a fourth character, Chaka, who is for a lack of a more accurate term, a caveman. This is where the movie becomes whacked. The world around them seems to be constantly shifting; first they’re in a Dali-like desert, and then they’re in a cave, and then they’re running through a massive forest, being chased by a tyrannosaurus who understands english (he takes offense at Rick’s insult about t-rexes having walnut-sized brains).
The rest of the story fades into nothingness. We are introduced to weird fish-like creatures called Sleestaks (who ironically make up the bulk of the film’s plot), and apparently, if you’re familiar with the original TV series, you’d understand how hilarious they’re supposed to be. Their costumes are obviously made out of rubber, but it’s this obviousness that makes it funny, almost acceptable. In fact, almost every single prop and backdrop seems too rubbery or plasticky to be taken seriously. There’s a bit where Rick slides down the t-rex’s tail (like Fred from The Flintstones), and as he slides down it, it’s almost too clear that we’re watching a frozen Rick glide down a moving object. Not quite the same as Legolas taking down an entire oliphaunt.
What I’d like to know though, is who is this movie’s target audience? It’s too grown up for kids (there are a couple of references to masturbation, and then there’s that whole segment where Chaka can’t let go of Holly’s breasts) and it’s too kiddy for adults. Maybe this lack of identity is the thing that’s stumping me. Even after writing this review, I can’t decide if it’s a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
Best Moment | Will posing in front of the charging t-rex as Holly and Rick fumble with the camera. Given the context, the pose was completely out of place, which made it hilarious.
Worst Moment | Take your pick. I’m going with the t-rex understanding english. I could probably squeeze Holly understanding Chaka in there as well.