Land of the Lost on the big screen is a world in which inebriated Old School geezers are given a ticket to explore Jurassic Park and a cameraman to chronicle their misadventure. Jokes laced with lascivious sex references are inappropriate for kids, while skits designed around singing show tunes to newly hatched pterodactyls will appeal, at best, to audiences whose brains are no bigger than a walnut – one of several ongoing gags that needed to get lost.
The execution is so colossally absurd that director Brad Silberling places as much emphasis on the collection of dinosaurs’ veracity and aesthetic realism as the effects of their excrement on the human condition. Will Ferrell and Danny McBride use this backdrop where “past, present and future collide” to fling crude, lewd and juvenile remarks at one another while cute Anna Friel is relegated to tearing off just enough clothing upon arrival to remain within the film’s PG-13 boundary.
The role of a genius scientist hiding under the guise of a socially inept idiot suits star Will Ferrell well, be it a far cry from the original grounded paleontologist Dr. Rick Marshall character. Ferrell’s interpretation begins with a chuckle-worthy verbal brawl against Today Show host Matt Lauer leading to public humiliation and demotion to a middle-grade school science teacher. A timely visit by former scholar Holly, who brings proof that Marshall’s seemingly far-fetched theories about time travel are correct, sends the duo off into the desert for a date with destiny down a stream of grimy sewer waste.
Holly, if you recall, was actually Rick’s young daughter on the television show and not his awkward love interest. The other sibling, Will, has also sprouted in years but missed some schooling in the process. Will has been relegated to become McBride’s trademark interpretation of the quintessential sexless redneck; a wife-beater wearing, foul-mouthed illegal fireworks’ salesman offering a non-scientific perspective of what it is like to be chased by an enraged T-Rex and the ideal obvious candidate to make a sacrifice for the group.
Though Will is the third wheel “human” as they journey across “The Land of the Lost” in search of the device that put them there, McBride plays him in this foreign land with the same simplemindedness of all his characters. When “Grumpy” the T-Rex’s superior-mined antics, Chaka’s obsession with groping Holly’s breasts or a Sleestak scientist’s high British accent make you want to throw in the towel, McBride delivers a perfect one-liner to reel you back in. Ferrell may be the headlining star, but McBride is the first choice for the home video audio commentary.
It is hard to pinpoint who Land of the Lost is intended for which is going to make it a tough sell at the box office. McBride’s sharp tongue and, to a lesser extent a vindictive Matt Lauer, save the adventure, but the nonsensical mishmash of photorealistic killer dinosaurs and unfiltered toilet humor are as much a mystery as the land they are lost in.
– Dan Bradley