Starring: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Jorma Taccone
Director: Brad Siberling
Writer(s): Chris Henchy, Dennis McNicholas
Cinematography: Dion Beebe
Original Score: Michael Giacchino
Running Time: 101 Mins.
Land of the Lost was a once popular American TV series, little known over this side of the Atlantic, that concerned pretty much what you would expect…a Land of the Lost, meaning there were dinosaurs, cavemen and the creepy lizard-men in rubber suits known as Sleestak. Given these facts it is not really a surprise that the rights were snapped up and a film fast tracked as a tent pole summer flick. However unlikely this may have seemed to the producers upon buying up said title Will Ferrell was subsequently cast as the lead…now it was not a film about dinosaurs and lizard men, it became the next Will Ferrell comedy.
Which in turn means it immediately falls into the love it or hate it bracket, not usually an issue when Ferrell is a big headed news reporter or playing a man child fighting his step-brother, these are comedies aimed at a certain demographic, certainly not the demographic Land of the Lost is being marketed at…children and families!
But what the heck, I AM a big Will Ferrell fan and thus found Land of the Lost to be funny enough to engage, Ferrell has dabbled in family fare before, in soccer based Kicking and Screaming, at its best when the big man was let of the leash but for the most part a toned down perfornamce meaning very few laughs…here he is well and truly let of the leash, it is unclear as to where the fault (in steering this away from being family fare) lies. I am tempted to point the finger at director Siberling, much like jim Carrey, without the proper “supervision” Ferrell has a tendency to go OTT, funny it may be but it doesn’t work in every scenario.
All this basically means is that rather than what should have been a tight and exciting family adventure becomes a tired cliche of the lost world story, with the humour, although very funny, jarring against all else. Most jokes revolve around smut and sex, not a bad thing by any means, they are funny jokes on teh whole, but when paired with a clumsy dinosaur or badly costumed lizard men you have to question the point of the film, expecially given Ferrells comedy credentials would be so much better suited to an altogether better and fundamentally adult film.
Thankfully buoying the film that touch further is Danny McBride, again though McBride is not a man for PG-13 comedies and every time he opens his mouth and manages to not swear it seems wrong, especially given his great turns in last summer’s Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express (poor movie, great performance), the relationship between he and Cha-ka, the caveman that joins the comedy duo, provides some much needed character development and between them a great foil for Ferrell’s thankfully toned down man-child act.
However forgiveable the jarring confused tone may be it hasn’t a thing on the absurd casting of Anna Friel (of Brookside lesbian kiss fame!), she is both dire as a character and literlly has no chemistry with any of the other actors…even Cha-Ka who incessantly touches her breasts (this is one example of how mixed up a film it is!), there is no doubt she is a great actor given the right material but here she is lumbered with a absurdly irritating Northern (England) accent, and her big speech to Ferrell two thirds in is possibly some of the worst acting this year!
Having said this the dino effects are top notch, and the rubbery Sleestak costumes are kitsch and fake enough to amuse, making Land of the Lost far from the worst comedy of the summer, that honour still bestows itself too Year One, and at least it IS funny if not on the expected level.
Some great effects and a trio of funny performances can’t hide the fact that Land of the Lost is one confused film, a smutty conedy masquerading as a family film, not a bad experience by any means but a wholley confusing one!