Land Of The Lost

Director    Brad Silberling
Starring    Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, Jorma Taccone, Bobb'e J. Thompson
Release    5 JUN (US) 31 JUL (UK)    Certificate 12A
2 stars


6th August 2009

Hollywood is fascinated with making movies from old TV shows. There's nothing wrong with that - we all enjoyed the Star Trek, Jackass and South Park movies, right? But when rubbish TV shows are rewarded with their own rubbish movies, there's something not quite right. Get Smart? Dukes of Hazzard? Lost In Sodding Space, starring Joey from Friends? It's Hollywood's circle of shite and it's burping turds at you via more screens than ever.

This summer, we have Land Of The Lost; yet another big screen adaptation of a crap TV series that no one in this country has ever heard of. For the uninitiated, it was a 1970s family-friendly show about a park ranger and his two kids who stumble across a lost world, are confronted by blokes dressed as lizards and terrorised by stop-motion dinosaurs. But obviously, this being a big-screen adaptation with lots of money and a strong cast, you'd expect better quality... wouldn't you?
Dr. Rick Marshall, another buffoon for Will Ferrell's 'trophy cabinet', is a time warp-studying Quantum Palaeontologist, whatever the hell that is. After an incident with Matt Lauer of NBC's The Today Show leaves him the laughing stock of the scientific world, Marshall is reduced to giving lectures and fielding questions from smart-mouth kids at a local museum. But when he meets his biggest admirer, Holly Cantrell (Friel), a sexy northern lass from Cambridge University, he's persuaded to continue his research and build a Tachyon Amplifier, the MacGuffin that transports him, Holly and for some reason Danny McBride's redneck Bear Grylls, Will, to... the Land Of The Lost.

[gallery]While the film has everything that would suggest a knock-about kids' flick - something to keep them occupied on a sodden August afternoon - it does have the odd risqué moment, quite a bit of swearing and even a solitary F-bomb. Have you ever seen a parent explaining the effects of narcotics to their child? Catch a matinee showing and you just might. This leaves the film in a limbo of its own, not knowing who it's aimed at. Adults won't be interested, thinking it's just a kids' film, and parents won't want their kids to see it because they'll deem it inappropriate: Will Ferrell and Danny McBride are hardly suitable for children.

Another issue with Land Of The Lost is, given the popularity of 3D films, why was this not made that way? It has all the hallmark qualities of a 3D romp; dinosaurs, giant crabs, an underground river and Anna Friel in a tight vest and short shorts. It has pretty much everything Journey To The Centre Of The Earth had and that was blessed with 3D (if you count a three-dimensional Brendan Fraser as a blessing). If anything, it'd give it a bit of gimmick to draw the crowds in. Anything to keep the attention focused.

Despite this, the special effects are a mix of appropriately cheesy low-budget costumes and big, bold CGI, and the small cast make the most of it. Will Ferrell shines at the beginning and end but is overshadowed by Danny McBride's fresh comedy chops throughout. Anna Friel is there to make the whole ordeal a little less of a sausage fest and generally bring some intellect - and of course, plucky northern grit - to the party. Did I also mention she wears hot pants in it?

But I just have one plea. If Hollywood continue turning old TV shows into movies, at least make them from the shows we love. Like Saved by The Bell: The Movie, where Jessie Spano goes to Vegas to become a stripper, or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, where Will, tired of Uncle Phil's clichéd angry dad motifs, goes off with Jazz, has a successful career as a rapper-turned-actor and Geoffrey is deported back to England. I'm awaiting the call, Quincy Jones!

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