Solid summer comedy that‘ll get lost in the blockbuster shuffle
Image Courtesy of IMPawards.com
Director: Brad Silberling
Notable Cast: Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, Matt Lauer, Leonard Nimoy, Jorma Taccone
It’s interesting to see how cinematic adaptations of television shows long since cancelled turn out. Miami Vice ditched the pastels for a harder, grittier tone. The Untouchables kept the story of Elliot Ness taking on Al Capone and the Chicago Mob but changed the show’s style up considerably. Serenity was perhaps the best adaptation in terms of keeping the television show’s style and tone the same, as Firefly was seemingly given the most proper of films from the genre, but it’s in Land of the Lost that we find that sometimes changing up a television show’s style can make it relevant for a new audience.
Following the tale of Rick Marshall (Will Ferell), a scientist disgraced by his community, and his two companions Holly (Anna Friel) and Will (Danny McBride), through a time warp and into a land existing between time and space, Land of the Lost as a film is massively different from the children’s show that inspired it. It does have plenty of material ripped from the show to give it a sense of continuity, including better looking versions of the cheesy costumes of its main villains. For the most part the film doesn’t try to be like the television show. And it’s better for it.
The original series was a Saturday morning children’s show that relied on stop motion effects and puppets to entertain. Horrendously dated, the show focused on Rick and his two children trying to return home while battling dinosaurs, ape creatures and other assorted exotic bad guys. It’s interesting to see the direction that Brad Silberling takes with the film. Using plenty of risqué jokes and pushing the blue humor limit for a PG-13 rated film, Silberling and writers Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas have obviously tailored the film for the humor types of Ferrell and Danny McBride. This isn’t your father’s Land of the Lost, that’s for sure, and it allows for the cast to play to their strengths as opposed to trying to recreate a bad ‘70s kids show.
Ferrell is wonderful in the role of Rick Marshall. Changed from a Park Ranger to a Paleontologist, Ferrell injects what could be a bland role with a lot of manic energy that helps to carry the film. By the end, when he’s riding a dinosaur, it’s easy to marvel at how consistently funny he is throughout the film. Pushing the limits of what one expects in a PG-13 film, Ferrell manages to get most of his requisite blue humor in but in more creative ways than normal.
The film’s real star, though, is McBride. Having nearly stolen Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express a year ago, and a riotous cameo in Observe and Report seemingly causing Seth Rogen to elevate his performance, McBride once again nearly steals every scene from Ferrell throughout the film. It makes for an interesting dynamic as the two, who work together well, are always trying to top each other.
The film’s problems mainly center on the points when Ferrell and McBride aren’t together on the screen. When alone, Ferrell is funny but not quite as good as when he has support. The film, which hits about half the jokes it attempts, is good but functions at a much higher level with Ferrell and McBride on the screen together.
Land of the Lost will most likely get lost in the shuffle, it’s a competent comedy that doesn’t aspire to greatness and never arrives at it, either.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):
Tags: Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Leonard Nimoy, Will Ferrell