Land of the Lost

Movie Information

The Story: The laughingstock of the scientific world travels to an alternate world in order to prove himself and his theories. The Lowdown: An appallingly unfunny and surprisingly lewd comedy based on a kiddie TV show.
Genre: TV Knockoff Sci-Fi Comedy
Director: Brad Silberling (Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Starring: Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, Jorma Taccone, John Boylan, Matt Lauer
Rated: PG-13

I’ve been puzzling over the existence of the probable target audience for the abomination known as Land of the Lost for several days now. Well, not nonstop, mind you, but on and off. I mean, really, who is the demographic? The movie is too raunchy for younger kids and too stupid for anyone else. The ideal viewer would be, I guess, a 5-year-old who still thinks dinosaurs and urine jokes are cool, but realizes they pale in comparison with breasts, gropings and the prospect of hot Will Ferrell-on-ape-man action. Blessedly, this last never quite comes to fruition on-screen (but no, that doesn’t mean you’re spared the obligatory Will Ferrell-takes-off-his-shirt scene).

Most of this isn’t really a personal concern for me, but parents not wishing to have to explain why Danny McBride offers Ferrell money to French kiss the ape-man might want to consider another entertainment option. Actually, anyone looking for entertainment of any kind would be well advised to seek it elsewhere. There’s precious little amusement to be had here.

Land of the Lost was originally a kiddie TV show from intrepid showmen Sid and Marty Krofft (who are credited as producers here). These are the guys that gave the world such Saturday morning TV fare as The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (1968), H.R. Pufnstuf (1969) and The Bugaloos (1970), among other things. Owing to the fact that people are seemingly fascinated by their childhoods various and sundry, there are doubtless those who have fond memories of the Krofft’s cheesy efforts. (I know slightly older folks who—with the aid of certain substances—found their output surrealistic.) So now we’re subjected to the $100 million Will Ferrellized postmodern big-screen version of one of their shows (the Kroffts’ entire oeuvre could not have cost that much). I don’t know about anyone else, but this failed to make my “Gee, I’d like to see it” list.

If you must know, the film concerns Dr. Rick Marshall (Ferrell), a disgraced scientist whose sole admirer, Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel, TV’s Pushing Daisies), encourages him to reclaim his dignity by following through on his theory of finding fossil fuels through time warps. (She might as well, since her admiration for Marshall has gotten her booted out of academia, too.) For reasons that frankly don’t matter, the duo—joined by crummy roadside-attraction owner Will Stanton (McBride)—end up in some alternate world with ape-men, dinosaurs, lizard-men and a collection of peculiar (mostly 20th century) earthly artifacts.

Mirth, adventure and lots of CGI are supposed to ensue—at least the CGI actually does, meaning we get to see Ferrell chased by a T. rex (no, not Marc Bolan) he has insulted. This is understandable to the viewer, who would probably like to chase Ferrell for much the same reason. It all works out in the end, of course—especially for moviegoers who went to see something else. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and for language, including a drug reference.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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2 thoughts on “Land of the Lost

  1. Sean

    Ken, I like your reviews, it’s rare these days to find a reviewer who isn’t either totally disingenuous or flowery to the point of total pretensiousness. Thanks for your honest take.

    I had the misfortune to watch this piece of garbage. I had exactly the same reaction – “who the hell is this for??” Once that occurred to me about three minutes in, I spent the rest of the movie trying to imagine how this came about…starting with someone pitching this idea to someone else. Then several other conversations ensued, some phone calls, ultimately dozens of grown adults involved…and along the way NO ONE spoke up and mentioned the sheer idiocy of what was being proposed? Someone had to green-light this. Someone had to sign a cheque to get this made. Which means at least one sober adult with financial authority had to honestly believe this was a good idea.


  2. Ken Hanke

    I had the misfortune to watch this piece of garbage.

    You have my profound sympathy. At least I got paid to sit through it.

    Which means at least one sober adult with financial authority had to honestly believe this was a good idea.

    The longer I live and the more dealings I have with corporations, the less I’m surprised by things like this — and the more I’m surprised that anything of any value or even marginal rational thought ever gets accomplished.

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