Land of the Lost

Posted on October 13, 2009 at 8:00 am

“Land of the Lost” features two funny actors and a criminally underused actress tramping around an alternate reality in search of comedy but not finding much for us to laugh at.
Too raunchy for kids, too dull for anyone else, this over-budgeted and under-scripted film wastes everyone’s time, especially the audience’s. The original television series about a forest ranger and his two teenage children in a time warp land with dinosaurs and lizard people called Sleestaks was best known for effects that could hardly be called “special,” even for the 1970’s. But it had innocence and charm, while the remake has neither. It is so carelessly written that when the humanoids don’t understand English but the dinosaurs do it feels more like laziness than an attempt to be funny. It is too busy coming up with a reason for Ferrell to douse himself with dino pee to try to, for example, give the female character any — what’s the word? — character.
Will Ferrell plays Dr. Rick Marshall, a discredited scientist whose theories about the particles that control space and time are not taken seriously by anyone. Then Holly (Anna Friel), a young scientist from England, tells him that she has some proof that his theories are right. Led by Will (Danny McBride) a guy who sells fireworks and lives in a trailer, they go into a cave and find themselves catapulted into an alternate universe where they are chased by dinosaurs and befriended by a missing link ape-boy named Chaka (Jorma Taccone). Ferrell’s job in the movie (big surprise) is to vibrate between neediness, panic, and arrogance and run around in his underwear. Friel’s job is to know the answer to everything (she even speaks Chaka’s language), allow herself to be (literally) pawed, look very fetching in tiny little shorts, and gaze adoringly at Ferrell. The best moments in the film come from the always-hilarious Danny McBride (“Pineapple Express,” “Tropic Thunder”), the songs of “A Chorus Line,” and, surprisingly, from Matt Lauer, playing himself.

Parents should know that this film is very raunchy for a PG-13 with a lot of very strong language and very crude humor, including potty jokes, drug humor, drinking, smoking, violence and peril including chases, comic but gross and grisly images, non-human characters injured and killed, vulgar sexual references and jokes, skimpy outfits, and sexist, ethnic, and homophobic humor.
Family discussion: What television series would you like to see made into a movie?
If you like this, try: “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Evolution”

Related Tags:


Action/Adventure Based on a television show Comedy Fantasy Remake

21 Replies to “Land of the Lost”

  1. Hi Nell,
    I do not plan on seeing this movie but I was curious in your review it said that there were some very funny moments including songs from A Chorus Line. What do these songs have to do with the movie? Thanks.

  2. Hi, Michael! Wise choice to avoid the movie! Ferrell’s character uses an old tape in his time warp machine that originally had “A Chorus Line” songs on it, so at odd moments throughout the story we hear bits of the “I Hope I Get It” song. Some of the homophobic humor comes from insults about his liking show tunes.

  3. Nell – Your review confirms the impressions I had of this movie based on the previews. It looked like a weak, sophomoric film that should have been aimed at the adult audiences that grew up with the show, but is actually targeted more for our adolescent kids. And your review confirms my suspicions. Though to be honest, Will Farrell in a movie is often reason enough for me to not see it – I’ve never been much of a fan of his brand of humor. It’s a shame that the wonderfully talented Anna Friel would go from an inspired (and unfortunately canceled) show like Pushing Daisies to big screen dreck like this.

  4. I had a feeling this movie would be bad when they changed the plot from a lost family to lost adults. Part of the fun in the old TV series was watching the family solve problems and get out of dangerous situations, even the kids saving the Dad once in a while. Movies that my family has enjoyed using this formula include the Richard Rodriguez movies (Spy Kids, Shark Boy & Lava Girl) and even the new version of Journey to the Center of the Earth. And, while there may be occasional potty humor, there’s nothing like a homophobic, sexist, or sexual joke that I have to try to explain after the movie. I think they missed their chance and should have put a couple of competent kid characters in to save goofy Will Farrell.
    I think we’re going to go see Night at the Museum or Up again instead.

  5. Another piece of pretty decent pop culture from my childhood, trashed. What really bothers me is that this movie crowds out the film that *could* have been made 🙁

  6. Totally inappropriate movie for anyone under the age of 17…..
    it really should have been rated an R, instead of pg-13. I wish I had read these reviews BEFORE I took my 3 kids to see this movie, ages 9-14.

  7. Thanks, Donna! I really appreciate your comments, which will be of great help to parents trying to decide whether this movie is right for their families. Honestly, I don’t think this movie is appropriate for anyone!
    I will be writing more about this movie over the weekend, so check back and let me know what you think.

  8. Thanks, Dave. As you can tell from my first paragraphs, one of the worst elements of the movie is the really offensive way they completely overlook all this talented actress has to offer.

  9. Personally, I think this movie was a work of genius. It was incredibly funny. I laughed the entire time. You have to appreciate sexual hmuor in order to enjoy this movie though. But overall i found it definitely worth watching.

  10. This movie should have been rated R. The Homosexual humor, sexual humor and cursing was over the top. I saw the Sci Fi channel played the old re-runs and thought this movie was for the kids. Wasn’t even for the adults. A few laughs in the begining and then just upset about the rating for kids. My husband actually went out of the movie to re-check the rating! Don’t bother to see this

  11. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience, Mom. I did my best to warn parents with my review that it was not only very raunchy but not very funny. I am afraid that what used to get an R now gets a PG-13, especially in a comedy, and as raunchy as this film is, it is no worse than prime time network television shows like “2 1/2 Men,” which is why the MPAA thinks it is okay for middle schoolers. The studios do their best to market these films as appropriate to sell tickets so you really cannot assume that any PG-13 movie is okay for kids.

  12. I saw this film hoping that it might offer some humorous moments, which were a few, but generally it was nothing more than just fair. I have never liked Will Ferrell so why I thought this would be different was beyond me. Many of the things you mentioned for not liking this film I agree with including the foul language, crude humor, and the constant groping of the female character. However, on a positive note, I certainly liked the special effects better than on the original TV series. They just had a marathon showing of it over the weekend and it is amazing how far special effects have come. But, as far as this film is concerned, I wouldn’t recommend rushing off to see it.

  13. Thanks, Tim! I think even in 1974 those television special effects were cheesy. But that was part of what made them such innocent fun.

  14. PG-13? Will Ferrell’s character puts his hand down his pants to play with himself. The entire movie was disgusting and pure filth! This is my last Will Ferrell movie! My Rating: NOT FUNNY. PURE FILTH!

  15. I’ve seen this all before. This movie wasn’t offensive to me because of the context of the jokes it was because i was offended this movie had the audacity to call itself a comedy. Will Ferrell is usually funniest when he’s playing a secondary character because in all of his films where he’s starring he’s basically playing the same role. Take heart fans of the original Land of the Lost if a Hulk movie can be made soon after the original was so bad and a new The Shadow film is in the works after Alec Baldwin’s flat attempt and Batman can be reborn after Schumacher put a dagger in that franchise then anything is possible.

  16. I guess I’m one of the few here with a positive review. I wanted to see the movie because Land of the Lost was a huge part of my Saturday a.m. TV-watching as a child. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the movie a positive review — basically, he said the critics are missing the point that it’s supposed to be dumb, campy and unbelievable, just like the show was. I always read Movie Mom before taking my kids to movies — I really love this site. But despite the warnings, I took my daughter and her friend, both age 8. We loved it! There were a couple of swear words (I remember one sh– and a couple damns) but they’ve unfortunately already heard those in the real world and they know they are not supposed to repeat words like that. ALL of the suggestive references completely went over their heads. They thought Chaka was funny and they thought Holly was really smart. Eight-year-olds think Will Ferrell in his underwear is funny! Oddly enough, I would probably be more wary about taking my almost-12-year-old daughter because I think she would have understood the suggestive jokes. But the little ones had no clue, I’m sure of it. Anyway … that’s my two cents. It was a dumb movie but still funny to this old LOTL fan.

  17. I enjoyed your review tremendously, Stephanie, and you made a good point. In general, I am uncomfortable with an “over their heads” approach, as children have a way of figuring out what is over their heads, whether we want them to or not, and it makes me uncomfortable to hear them repeat jokes that they do not really understand. But it sounds like your kids had exactly the silly fun that fans of the television show were hoping for and I am really happy to hear it! Thanks for a great comment!

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