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Home > Movies > I’m Lost, I’m Lost, Find Me

I’m Lost, I’m Lost, Find Me

June 8th, 2009

When I first heard that the film adaptation of Land of the Lost would star Will Ferrell, I was puzzled and dismayed. Not that I dislike like Will Ferrrell. Anchorman is one of the funniest flicks I’ve ever seen. I wondered, was it possible that Ferrell was trying to branch out into Brendan Fraser/comic action hero territory? Or that the producers thought that Ferrell would bring a bit of sly humor to their otherwise straightforward kid-friendly adventure? They couldn’t possibly be thinking about turning a sorta-beloved ’70s Saturday morning show into a typical Ferrell slob comedy? Right? Right?

Denial is such a wonderful thing.

So I saw Land of the Lost. Look, I had one of those “Movie Money” certificates packaged with the DVDs of the original series. It could only be used for Land of the Lost. Essentially, I’d already paid for the ticket. Why shouldn’t I go? Don’t judge me!

I know that some would say that I could do better things with those 90 minutes. But, honestly, taking a good look at my life and the things on which I spend my precious time on this Earth, it would seem that my standards aren’t all that high.

Anyway, Land of the Lost was very much a missed opportunity. They could’ve easily turned out something akin to last year’s successful 3D kidventure Journey to the Center of the Earth, with dinosaurs and weirdness for the younger set, and a bit of nostalgia for the fortysomethings. Or they could’ve embraced the goofiness of the old show and gone for a balls-out comedy. What they did instead falls between those two stools. Or, given the film’s fondness for dinosaur poop, two stool samples. (I’m here all week; enjoy the Sleestak steak.)

It all starts off promisingly. There’s a prelude in which a stranded, space-suited astronaut finds himself lost in a jungle and confronted by a hungry T-Rex. It seems to be setting the stage for a quirky, Men in Black romp.

Some of it was funny. I got a chuckle of the notion of Ferrell playing a “quantum paleontologist.” I also enjoyed his interaction with the skeevy versionĀ of Chaka the monkey boy; their instant dislike was amusing. I don’t know that I found the bookend scenes with Matt Lauer as hilarious as did some others, but I give Lauer credit for being game.

The production design was wonderful, working those old Krofft studio sets into locations both nifty and cheesy. The best of these was a vast desert filled with artifacts from throughout time and space: everything from a flying saucer to a Universal Tour tram. Iconic Land of the Lost locales such as the “Lost City” and the Library of Skulls got a reworking, and the mysterious pylons were imaginatively reinvisioned as transparent on the outside, weirdly extradimensional on the inside.

Indeed, there were lots of references to the old show, right down to the “Beware of Sleestak” warning scrawled on a rock. However, much of it was superficial; the makers lost sight of what these things originally meant. Enik the Altrusian, who was something of a tragic figure back in the day, winds up as a stock villain here. And while the Zarn (who was originally a creepy alien made entirely out of lights) got a namecheck–and a pointless, two-line voice-over cameo by Leonard Nimoy–here he’s just another member of Enik’s race. I know, I know, why expect a fannish level of fidelity when they went and cast Will Ferrell?

I wasn’t expecting much, but I found Land of the Lost disappointing nonetheless. It has moments of fun and whimsy, but it falls short of being truly hilarious. It makes me wonder why anyone went to the time and trouble to drop $100 million on this remake without having a better idea of what to do with it.

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