Combustible Celluloid
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With: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Jorma Taccone, John Boylan, Matt Lauer, Leonard Nimoy
Written by: Chris Henchy, Dennis McNicholas, based on a TV series by Sid Krofft, Marty Krofft
Directed by: Brad Silberling
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and for language including a drug reference
Running Time: 93
Date: 06/05/2009

Land of the Lost (2009)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Lost' in Translation

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This new big screen remake/update begins by almost completely abandoning everything about Sid and Marty Krofft's cheese classic 1970s kids' TV show. Will Ferrell and his team of comedy kindred spirits whip up a huge batch of distinctive Ferrell-type humor, consisting of what it might be like if a self-centered teenager occupied the body of a full-grown man. (There's lots of sex humor and toilet humor; this isn't for kids anymore.) Then the poor writers try their best to shoehorn these jokes into the story they were hired to make: a scientist (Ferrell) and two reluctant travelers, cute aspiring scientist Holly (Anna Friel) and redneck tour guide Will (Danny McBride), fall through a wormhole and into an alternate reality where dinosaurs still roam. There they meet "monkey man" Chaka (Jorma Taccone), who provides a source for more jokes. But while Ferrell's humor tends to stop the plot in its tracks, director Brad Silberling ignores this instinct by stoically pushing ahead, as if we actually cared about these characters finding their missing gizmo and stopping an evil alien from taking over the universe. Indeed, Silberling's near-barrage of computer effects and monsters indicates that he would almost rather not have any humans in the film at all. And so we get a constant, aggravating push-and-pull between Ferrell's detouring humor and Silberling's need to stampede soullessly through the plot. The result is a giant mess, albeit one with about a dozen solid laughs. It's too bad that the filmmakers couldn't have gone with Ferrell's humor -- rather than against it -- and come up with something interestingly post-modern (like Galaxy Quest). Some cheesy green-screen effects and claymation dinosaurs might have been a good start.

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