Those who don’t learn from the craptastic history of Bewitched are doomed to repeat it. If Will Ferrell’s heart isn’t really in making these TV-to-film adaptations some sort of affectionate update of the original, then why even bother with them?
For those who’ve sustained numerous black eyes from what feels like an abusive relationship with a movie star, Land of the Lost is yet another lifeless, uncharismatic waste of time from Ferrell.
Its moments of plot and exposition have all the clarity of someone who’s just been elbowed awake from a nap — if there’s a supreme lizard capable of crushing civilizations, why is he not more present throughout? — and its tribute to the acid-tab latency of Sid and Marty Krofft’s Saturday-morning creation is too on the nose. (a scene when Ferrell and friends ingest the Land of the Lost equivalent of LSD). It’s all protracted stoner humor that sends the movie into a lull, not an adventurous lark.
Quantum paleontology and trans-dimensional energy that allows mankind to travel sideways through the past, present and future. These, not renewable biofuels, are apparently the keys to saving the earth, according to buffoonish doctor Rick Marshall (Ferrell).
An opening Today segment with Matt Lauer — essentially spoiled in the film’s trailer — wobbles around with so much dimensional minutiae that it feels like lip service to science consultants in the wake of subsequent wackiness.
Laughed out of the scientific community, Rick still has the respect of Holly (Anna Friel), a graduate student who encourages the revival of his experimentation. After a miscalculated mishap with Rick’s time-traveling machine, he, Holly and lewd tourist-trap entrepreneur Will (Danny McBride) become trapped in the titular landscape — where a crashed Cessna has speared a Viking ship in the middle of a desert over which three moons hang. No Locke in a wheelchair, though.
If there’s any reason to watch Land of the Lost, it’s this forbidden zone’s landscape — conceived by production designer Bo Welch as a colorful found-art exhibit of theme-park kitsch, drive-in infrastructure and putt-putt props. (Michael Giacchino’s fine score also is far more inspired than the film it accompanies.)
Rick, Holly and Will must team up with Chaka (Jorma Taccone) — a horny ape-man — to take out the Zarn (voiced by Leonard Nimoy). If not, the Zarn might use Rick’s trans-dimensional device to overrun Earth with sharp-teethed Sleestaks (lovingly re-created here with men-in-suit tangibility by director Brad Silberling).
What could have been shaggy-dog adventure a la Joe Versus the Volcano is instead more like the low-rent sci-fi slop of Mom and Dad Save the World with a bigger budget.
Doomed to mimic his Role Models part, young Bobb’e J. Thompson posts prologue questions about pot and “dinosaur boobs” to Ferrell’s doctor who, throughout, emits eegads exclamations at which Ron Burgundy would shake his head. There is a great Auto-Tune joke at Cher’s expense on a vibrating crystal and the unexpected Chorus Line motif is good for a laugh, but a prolonged sequence when Ferrell douses himself in dinosaur urine as camouflage is depressingly unfunny.
It’s marginally better than Bewitched, if only because it’s a fairly straightforward springboard from the show’s original premise (although adorned with new F-bombs, chest groping and simulated 69 gags). Then again, even Nora Ephron didn’t turn Ferrell into a colonoscopic agent for a dinosaur.