‘Lost’ in translation 

You’ve been here before.

A BUST: 'Land Of The Lost.'
  • A BUST: 'Land Of The Lost.'

On behalf of all Americans of a certain vintage, I'd like to say: God bless you, Sid and Marty Krofft. Back in the early 1970s, your strangely filmed, singularly psychedelic shows gave hope to children stuck in the dark ages before basic cable. To you, sirs, I say: Thank you.

One of my favorites was “Land of the Lost.” Sure, it was shot on video, featured actors who seemed to be cast out of excess hockey puck material, and the only way the special effects could have been worse is if they'd put a guy in a T-shirt with “Dinosaur” printed on it and had him make “Rhawr-Rhawr” noises. But for an Arkansas kid sitting on the shag rug in front of a 600-pound console TV whose radiation output probably started me down the road to large cell carcinoma, it was magical.

When I heard they were making a “Land of the Lost” movie, I was a bit conflicted. Sure, seeing it updated on the big screen might be cool, but once you've drunk the Kool Aid of the Kroffts' version, convincing yourself that those plastic ferns and rubber dinosaurs are real ferns and dinosaurs, anything else is gonna be a letdown. No amount of million-dollar CGI can ever compete with a kid's imagination.

As I suspected, “Land of the Lost” turns out to be a bust. It's not the plot, either. That's a fairly fun, even interesting take on the Kroffts' old shtick about parallel universes and lizard men. But the truth is something far more elemental. I've just fallen out of love with Will Ferrell. I'm sure he's crushed.

Here, Ferrell plays Dr. Will Marshall, a world-renowned paleontologist who has dropped from grace like a rock after a Youtube-featured tussle with “The Today Show's” Matt Lauer. The issue: Marshall's crazy ideas about time travel and parallel universes. Three years later, Marshall's working at the La Brea tar pits. Out of the blue, he is approached by a brilliant grad student, Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) who convinces him to give his Tachyon Emitter gizmo one last shot. After traveling to a desert tourist trap that is the center of a well of Tachyon energy, Marshall and Cantrell fire up the gizmo, which proceeds to whisk them and their redneck guide Will Stanton (Danny McBride) to the Land of the Lost. There, they meet an apelike hominid named Cha-Ka (Jorme Toccona), a T-rex named Grumpy, and a horde of lizard men who are plotting to take over the multi-verse. Comedy ensues.

While I found a lot to laugh at here, the dry spells between the jokes are Mohave-like. Mostly, it's Will Ferrell, I think. “Land of the Lost” is just the latest in a comedic rut he's been plowing for awhile now, playing the same arrogant, know-it-all boob that seemed so fresh in “Anchorman.” While Ferrell does that character well and can still squeeze some yuk-yuks out of him, he really needs some new material. Will, buddy: When you can get a movie greenlit in Hollywood by having your agent pitch it solely as: “Will Ferrell as a lumberjack,” you're typecast. Right now, you're RICH and typecast, but you're typecast. Try something new.

In short: even though the production values and geek factor are sky high on “Land of the Lost,” this feels like a flick we've all seen before. Mostly because it is. Catch it on DVD.


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