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Land of the Lost Should've Stayed Lost

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2009 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
<i>Land of the Lost</i> Should've Stayed Lost

DVD Release Date:  October 20, 2009
Theatrical Release Date:  June 5, 2009
Rating:  PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, language and a drug reference)
Genre:  Comedy/Sci-Fi/Action-Adventure
Run Time:  93 min.
Director:  Brad Silberling
Actors:  Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Jorma Taccone, John Boylan, Matt Lauer, Brian Huskey

Perhaps, it was simply a clerical oversight, but a quick glance at Will Ferrell's IMDb.com page (for the uninitiated, that's the industry-standard equivalent of Wikipedia for movie stars) and the separate page exclusively dedicated to Land of the Lost reveals a very curious omission.

In the long, long list of movies Ferrell has been a part of since leaving Saturday Night Live, Land of the Lost isn't even listed—and he's clearly the star of the show as Dr. Rick Marshall.

Considering that even his brief, yet memorable cameo in Wedding Crashers made the cut, one can't help but speculate that the flick's non-presence was definitely intentional. It's as if Ferrell knew how truly bad Land of the Lost was and decided it wasn't worthy of being part of his comedic legacy. And that's a legacy that includes 1998's Night at the Roxbury.

Enough said, right?

If Ferrell's lack of attachment to the movie was his idea, his observation about the quality of Land of the Lost couldn't be more spot on. Truth be told, saying it's terrible or a waste of time might even be too kind.

Although my experience with the TV version of Land of the Lost was relegated to a few reruns here and there, it was still easy to enjoy the show's unintentional laughs and campy sci-fi charms. And apparently, a large enough contingency of fanboys and fangirls must have agreed, otherwise the project probably wouldn't have been green-lighted with a $100 million budget to boot.

Unlike this summer's successful reboot of Star Trek that was embraced by Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike because of smart writing, appealing actors and J.J. Abrams' (LOST, Mission Impossible 3) savvy direction, Land of the Lost doesn't really have any of those crucial components going for it—despite Ferrell's over-the-top attempts to deliver the funny. In fact, when some of the movie's biggest laughs involve Matt Lauer, you know you're in trouble. Deep trouble.

The movie kicks off with Lauer's Today Show interview with Dr. Rick Marshall, a crackpot scientist/author with an inflated sense of self and some pretty bizarre theories on time travel. Rick suggests that instead of moving back or forward in time, it's all about moving sideways.  As the subsequent butt of all of Lauer's jokes, not to mention the laughing stock of the scientific community, Rick hopes to redeem himself with an invention he's been working on.

Now teaching high-school-level science to pay the bills, the supposedly brilliant mad scientist with food issues unleashes his theories on a group of students who couldn't care less. But one day, his sad excuse for a life changes when a smart research assistant named Holly (Anna Friel) unexpectedly turns up with a fossil that potentially validates Rick's research. Encouraging Rick to pursue his scientific hunches, the duo makes their way to the rundown amusement park that is supposedly the portal to "the land of the lost."

With a look and feel that's a retro wink to the TV show, complete with pitiful special effects to match, Land of the Lost could've been an engaging throwback for old and new fans alike. But instead of weaving together a cohesive story, the significant plot holes are filled with potty humor of the lowest common denominator.

Well, unless someone thinks it's funny when Rick dumps a bottle of urine over his head and drinks what's left over. Or seeing Chaka, the half-man, half-primate creature from the original series, groping Holly's breasts at every turn. See, when the writers have run out of jokes, they just keep recycling the old ones that were never quite laugh-worthy in the first place, something that a veteran funnyman like Ferrell can't ad-lib his way out of.

With more sleaze than Sleestaks, the spirit of the original Land of the Lost doesn't ever shine through—a shame for anyone with taste or higher expectations.
 
CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Dr. Marshall and Will (Danny McBride) accidentally drink something laced with narcotics.
  • Language/Profanity:  Numerous profanities including one use of the "f" word and several instances where God's name is taken in vain. Potty humor is also rampant throughout. In one scene, Dr. Marshall drinks in an entire container of urine and then dumps the remainder over his head.
  • Sex/Nudity:  There are countless sexual innuendos throughout the movie, some far more risqué than others. Chaka repeatedly gropes Holly's breasts—a running joke throughout most of the film. There's also an instance where Will dares Dr. Marshall to French kiss a monkey (the kiss is shown in the distance). Two aliens have sex, but nothing is shown aside from kissing. In the souvenir shop, there are mugs sold in the shape of women's bare breasts. Toward the end, there scantily clad women show up with their breasts covered by their hair and very skimpy bottoms.
  • Violence:  There are a few fight scenes that are really more comedic than violent. But any of the interactions with the larger-than-life dinosaurs would be scary for younger children.
  • Religion:  Just like the TV show, there is a lot of new-age-y talk in the film pertaining to crystals, vibes and energies. Also, when Dr. Marshall is high, he tells Will he's happier than Jesus was for mankind when he died on the cross.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.