Monday, March 28, 2011

Land of the Lost (2009)

My plan worked. Extremely low expectations married with a view of the movie as a film-within-the-show allowed me to make it all the way through without ripping out my eyes and ears. It would be an exaggeration to say that I enjoyed it, but I was at least able to enjoy parts of it without despairing over What Have They Done to the Show?

I knew I was going to have problems with Land of the Lost as soon as Will Ferrell was announced as the star. I don't much like Will Ferrell's work. Not even Anchorman, the movie everyone reminds me about as soon as I tell them I don't think Will Ferrell's funny. I tolerate him in Elf because I love Christmas movies, but I can't make myself watch it every holiday season. Haven't yet seen him in Stranger Than Fiction, though my resistance to it is weakening. At any rate, Land of the Lost did nothing to change my mind about Ferrell's style of comedy.

I did however like Danny McBride and Anna Friel. This is where it came in handy to see the movie as something that the Marshalls might have had to endure once they got home. Otherwise, I would've been extremely frustrated that Rick Marshall's kids have been transformed into a love interest and an idiotic guide.As it was, I laughed at McBride a lot and Friel was less annoying than she was in Pushing Daisies.

Yes, I know Pushing Daisies was a critical darling and I liked it for the most part, but not for the part where Ned and Chuck couldn't touch and it was Rogue all over again. Or the constant reminder that Ned was keeping a huge, horrible secret from her. Friel was fun and likable in the part, I just didn't dig the uglier side of the show that her character represented.

Holly of course has none of that. Instead, she has the unenviable job of having to admire and respect a character played by Will Ferrell. A character - I'm quick to add - that is designed specifically to be unworthy of admiration or respect. This isn't an Anna Friel flaw, it's a fundamentally ridiculous problem in the script. Nice job by Friel for making Holly attractive and charming in spite of that.

Cha-Ka was stupid though. The less said about him the better.

What I was most curious about - and the reason I wanted to see the movie at all - was what they did with the show's mythology. How much would they include? How much would they change? I like that Grumpy was there (and that Holly named him) and that Enik's an important part of the story (though his motivation has completely changed from the show). I was elated to hear someone mention the Zarn until I saw what they actually did with him. I liked that he had Leonard Nimoy's voice, but he's the Zarn in name only, having nothing in common with the inter-dimensional traveler from the show.

But you know, if I'm a person living in the world of the TV series and this movie is all I know about the Marshalls' adventures, I don't hate it. It's not Good in any sense of the word and parts of it are downright horrible, but other parts are enjoyable and even funny. As a whole, like so many other movies, it's mundane and ultimately forgettable, but that's a blessing and a vast improvement over what I expected going into it.


Wings1295 said...

I truly wish I had had your mind set going into this one. I saw it as a re-imagining of a beloved show, and all it did was trash it, fumble it, royally mess it up and did NOTHING to honor what it's source material was. A travesty, in my eyes, and I won't ever watch it again.

Ian Explosivo said...

ANNA FRIEL?! ANNOYING IN PUSHING DAISIES?! Sir, I challenge you to a duel to the death if we're ever in the same town.

Ivan said...

The short version: Even though I was a worshipful kid glued to my TV every Saturday watching Land of the Lost, I still enjoyed the movie. I think if the movie had been titled "National Lampoon's Land of the Lost," more people would have liked/gotten/paid to see it.
My review's here (a long post, sorry, please scroll down):


Mr Blue Genes said...

Sure, it was mildly amusing and ultimately forgettable, but, bacause this movie was produced, we'll likely never get a serious movie treatment

M. D. Jackson said...

An interesting perspective. I don't know that watching anything is worth it if one has to perform such complicated mental calisthenics in order not to tear one's own ears off. Perhaps it's better to dismiss it as "not of the canon" and have done with it. Life's too short.

Michael May said...

I'd certainly never recommend it to fans of the show. I'd planned to avoid it at all costs until I stumbled across the movie-within-the-show angle in the show itself and then felt okay about indulging my curiosity.

But even though I found a way not to hate it - a way that I understand won't work for everyone - it is sad, as Mr. Blue Genes points out, that it's likely killed any chance of the LotL movie I wished they'd made.

By the way, I totally loved typing, "As Mr. Blue Genes points out." That was awesome.

Michael May said...

By the way, Ian, as the challenged party, I claim the right to name the weapons: Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots at dawn.

West said...

This review is as fair as the creators could ever hope for. I was less of a fan of the original, but I ...experienced the movie similarly to you.


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