There are certain things in life you can rely on. The tides come and go with predictable regularity, the moon waxes and wanes its way through endless cycles, and Will Ferrell makes his annual likeable comedy about a man-child in an amusing scenario. This year’s outing sees Ferrell cast in a revamped, feature film version of campy 60s TV show Land of the Lost. The plot goes thusly…
Dr. Rick Marshall (Ferrell) is presenting his new book to Matt Lauer on the Today Show. Excitingly, he claims to have solved the energy crisis and potentially found a solution to the energy crisis by discovering a new type of particle which, if harnessed, release enormous amounts of energy. Sadly it is greeted with scorn, not least by the far from friendly Lauer whose barbs cause Marshall to storm off set with typical Ferrell petulance.
Languishing in a high school teaching job and munching on doughnuts filled with M&Ms, Dr. Marshall gives up on his dreams. That is, until beautiful young Cambridge drop-out Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) shows up. Convinced Marshall is right, she gets him to build a machine to harness the power of these particles. When he finally does so, they travel out into the desert to test it and wind up catapulted back in time and, by the looks of things, space into a crazy world of evil lizard men, an ape civilization and angry dinosaurs. Accompanying them is unwitting redneck Will Stanton (Danny McBride) who is caught up in the testing process.
There’s plenty of stuff going throughout the movie, with a T-Rex rapidly pursuing a vendetta against Marshall for his insensitive ‘walnut-sized brain’ comment, and monkey man Cha-Ka tagging along after being rescued from his murderous brethren. The main part of the plot, however, concerns the murderous Slestaks (lizard men) and one among them who aims to travel the universe enslaving its inhabitants.
As you may have guessed, the story isn’t the most important thing in this movie. As ever the affable improv of Ferrell provides plenty of laughs, not least when he decides to soak himself in Hadrosaur urine. Another amusing moment comes when an enormous parasitic insect devours most of his blood. Danny McBride and Anna Friel provide able accomplices in this comedy mission too, with McBride’s hick playing the bumbling sidekick well and Anna Friel’s posh scientist chick largely avoiding the painful pitfalls so clearly illustrated by Amy Adams performance as Amelia Earhard in Night at the Museum 2 (possibly the most irritating character to grace the big screen since Jar Jar Binks).
But even more fun the Ferrell’s antics is the all-round B-movie feel of the whole thing. Zany sets show a desert littered with paraphernalia transported from our time/dimension to great effect, and some of the old-school set-pieces like an advancing lizard-man army reek of playful nostalgia.
It is this ambience which holds together an otherwise lacklustre piece. By stringing together a bunch of campy retro set-ups and witty improvs in this way, Land of the Lost manages to be a watchable comedy with plenty of laughs and no real low points to ruin the experience. It’s a far cry from the classic Ferrell of Anchorman, but it’s nowhere near the worst comedy you’ll see this year: a solid three-star comedy.
This article was first posted on July 30, 2009