LAND OF THE LOST

1 Star - Troubling

Will Ferrell’s penchant for visual gags, bathroom humor and junior high sexuality continues in his latest film, “Land of the Lost.”  Very different from the original 1970’s children’s TV series produced by Sid and Marty Kroft, this film has their support but is written by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas.  Bringing their experience as writers for Saturday Night Live and I’m With Her, the humor is witty and creative but is no longer appropriate for children.  Directed by Brad Silberling (Lemony Snicket’s), this film blends science fiction with adult comedy in a playful though off-color manner.

The ensemble cast works well. Will Ferrell’s character, Dr. Rick Marshall, is a scientific genius with a pervasive lack of humility.  His admiring cohort, Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel), is also a scientist who says she was thrown out of Cambridge for believing in Marshall’s theories about time travel.  They are accompanied by Will Stanton (Danny McBride) an intelligent redneck who has more common sense than Dr. Marshall.  Rounding out the ensemble is Cha-Ka (Jorma Taccone), a prehistoric Neanderthal.  The villain of the tale is a reptilian being we won’t name because of plot twists, but the struggle emphasizes the difficulty in knowing the good from the bad.

The ongoing visual gag is that the land in which they find themselves includes not only the lost creatures of the past, but it is also a place where the lost things of the present appear.  This interaction provides a variety of visual gags that are an engaging backdrop for the action and humor of the film.

The difficulty with the film is that it doesn’t work very well as science fiction because of the lack of plausible explanations of both parallel universes and time travel.  But that shortcoming would be easier to excuse if the humor was more appropriate and there were some redeeming values presented.  No character within the film is worthy of emulating nor does anyone demonstrate either a depth of character or a mature understanding of life.  In these ways, these characters truly are living in the land of the lost.

 

Discussion:

Do you agree that this film’s humor has wit but relies too much on “bathroom humor?”  Why do you answer as you do?
The fact that a fossil in this world would be created in a parallel universe implies that the timeline of this world is related to that one.  This needs explanation even in a fictional world.  What explanation would you suggest if you were a writer for this film?
Who do the reptilian soldiers remind you of and who do you think they are intended to represent?

Posted on July 31, 2013 and filed under 1 STAR, TROUBLING.