Sometimes you just have to marvel at what the pitch meetings for certain big-budget Hollywood movies must have been like: “Okay, we’ve got the rights to this beloved kids’ show from the 1970s that has a huge cult following. So we’re going to shoehorn Will Ferrell and Danny McBride into it, doing the exact same things they do in every other movie, then get rid of the kid characters and fill the movie with crude, risqué humor that’s inappropriate for children and, oh yeah, spend over $100 million on middling special effects and big set pieces that try to sell Ferrell as an action hero. How’s that sound?”
It sounds like a disaster, of course, and that’s exactly what the new movie version of Land of the Lost, based on the 1974 TV series that also spawned a 1991 TV redo, amounts to. Tonally inconsistent, incoherently plotted and almost never funny, the movie plays like a nightmare of filmmaking-by-committee, wherein everyone gets what they asked for, and the result is something that nobody wanted.
Instead of the family (father, son, daughter) portrayed in the two TV series, the Lost movie casts Ferrell as a buffoonish, disgraced scientist studying time warps, Anna Friel as a student who looks up to him and McBride as a trailer-park hillbilly guiding them into a cave full of some energy or whatever, and … look, the point is, they end up in the land of the lost, which is full of dinosaurs and really annoying cutesy monkey people and, of course, sleestaks, the lizard-like humanoids that everyone remembers from the show. Once there, they have to defeat something or save something and then get home. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that this ostensibly fun family movie features vulgar jokes a-plenty—if you ever wanted to see Ferrell douse himself in dinosaur urine or learn about the mating habits of sleestaks, then you’re in luck—and completely fails as an effects-driven blockbuster. Ferrell throws in a few of his trademark non sequiturs, flashes his flabby pecs and calls it a day, and McBride has already gone from unexpected treat to one-note annoyance. Clearly this is a movie that never should have made it past the pitch stage.