Movie News & Reviews

'Land of the Lost' too hokey to be funny

The reason comedy is an art and not a science is that in comedy, you canfollow the exact same formula that did great last time, only to haveit blow up in your face like an unfunny bomb, which is crazy becauseexplosions are always funny.

Imagine if the same uncertainty did apply to the formulas of science!I would have sucked even worse at geometry, which in turn would havesucked for everyone, as we'd all have to memorize a bunch of newletters that come after F. Some guy in a lab coat would be trying towhip up a batch of dihydrogen monoxide and suddenly poof! he'dturn into a potted daisy instead.

-- Times, theaters.

-- Read Mr. Movie's review.

It must be hard to deal with that as a comedy writer. Those guys arethe greatest heroes we've got, even more than Mark McGwire, and he hit70 home runs. Still, that doesn't excuse them when they totally botchup a tried recipe like in the new Land of the Lost.

Scientist Will Ferrell believes it's possible to travel through timeand space to other dimensions, a theory so laughable that he's soonplaying tour guide to surly kids at the La Brea Tar Pits.

But doctoral student Anna Friel believes in him. With her inspiration,Ferrell finishes his time-warping tachyon amplifier, but on theirfirst test run it works too well, zapping them into an alternate worldand then goes missing.

Without it, they can't get home. They soon learn it's even worse: anevil lizard-monster named Zarn wants to use the tachyon amplifierto open portals to other dimensions, where his army of lizard slaveswill destroy everything they find.

Ferrell, Friel, and redneck sidekick Danny McBride flee through TheLand of the Lost like it's a monster-filled murder emporium, but Isay being trapped there would be pretty sweet. The T-Rexes are sosmart they understand English! And Friel can pick up the intricaciesof ape-man speech within minutes of meeting them! In fact, you knowhow in this world there are laws of physics and biology, and they'recalled laws because you can't break them? Well, in their world, theyget to break those laws whenever it's convenient for the plot or it'stime for a big action scene! How cool would that be? Pretty damn cool,right?

Cool to live in, not so cool to watch. Is it asking too much that acomedy remake of a pulp sci-fi classic pay at least a little heed toreality? Well too bad, because this movie isn't nearly funny enough togive it the benefit of the doubt.

I'm usually on board with Ferrel's ludicrous blowhard thing, but inthis case it fails as bad as our last president, which might soundlike a cheap shot until you remember Ferrel does a pretty funny jobimpersonating him.

Where's that talent here? Dunno, but I'm ready to cast blame onwriters Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas, a couple of TV veteranstrying desperately to mine that formerly rich comedic vein ofoverconfident, chatty idiots who are always wrong about everything.Also, their knowledge of dinosaurs appears to be limited to whateverwas in Jurassic Park.

Odd, that, since the CGs in Land of the Lost look worse thanJurassic Park's, too. That's the problem with being tooderivative: stealing from past successful entertainment is anexcellent move, but if you steal too much without adding anything new(I'm looking at you, Shakespeare), you'll just make everyone wish theywere watching whatever you stole from instead. (On a side note, thisis basically the entire problem with all New Zealand cinema right now:I love Peter Jackson too, but if you steal one more of his shots I'mjust going to pop Dead Alive in instead. You've been warned,New Zealand.)

This foolishness can't even steal right from what it's remaking. Thewhole "sleeslak invaders are going to slaughter everything everywhere"thing doesn't mean a damn when it's constantly thrown aside in favorof unspectacular action and played-out jokes. As I was watchingLand of the Lost and trying to figure out how I felt about it,I kept thinking "Well, I could be more annoyed right now."That's not a good thing. Neither is this movie.

Grade: D