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Three Readers Report Back From The LAND OF THE LOST!

Beaks here...

Apparently, there was a test screening tonight down San Diego way for Brad Silberling's LAND OF THE LOST, starring the great Will Ferrell, the just-as-great Danny McBride and the exquisite Anna Friel. How do I know? We received three reviews within an hour of each other. The verdict? Let's start with this brief write-up from Chakastack.
"Marshall, Will and Holly..." yes, I got into a screening of LAND OF THE LOST at the La Jolla Village tonight. For whatever reason, I was under the impression that this would be some soft family film with some wisecracky Will Ferrell jokes and lots of big fx set pieces. BOY WAS I WRONG. My only major bug is that the movie is slow to start: Will Ferrell is kind of a has-been scientist that some consider genius, most think is nuts. There's a funny Tom Cruise like spoof interview with Matt Lauer at the beginning where Ferrell says he can solve the energy crisis via time travel. Anyway, he mostly works at the La Brea tarpits as a lecturer who gets no respect. One day he is visited by the beautiful HOLLY (no idea who actress is) who believes his theories and says she has found basically a spot in the dessert that is a hole in time. The pair then drive to 'Devil's Canyon', a tourist hole that Danny McBride (Will) runs and takes them on a cheesy river raft tour that long story short shoots them into an alternate plane: the Land of the Lost. Okay....guys, cut that shit down! Who cares?!? Because, once this thing gets going it is the fucking most genius HILARIOUS flick I've seen in years. Its dirty then flat out raunchy then weird and random (humor very much like 30 Rock). Let me flat out say this: I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie! I will be doing bong hits and watching this DVD on repeat for years to come. There's not really alot to say since the praise is all in the execution but for a really expensive Summer tent pole, I'm a bit shocked that they got away with this. This is NOT for the little one, guys. But its the most witty, entertaining, self aware, referential comedy I've seen in a major studio movie in sooo long. ***I mean, no fucking lie here: there is a Will Ferrell/Pterodactyl egg/'A Chorus Line' dance number set piece that had me pissing my pants!!!!! Need I say more???**** I have NO IDEA how the movie-going public will react to such a wild movie. But I so applaud these filmmakers for just going balls out and saying 'fuck it'. There were a ton of unfinished fx so Im sure this was an early cut. I just pray that maybe some of the studio execs will read this review and BACK OFF from trying to tone this down. It was the first pleasant surprise I've had at the movies so far this year. Yours drooly, Chakastack P.S....yes, there is a reference to how slow the Sleezestacks are....
That's a relief. I was worried they'd omit that altogether, which would be like remaking LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and leaving out Audrey II. Next up is... well, they didn't give us a name, so I hereby dub thee "Davis-Besse".
Got to see a test of LAND OF THE LOST tonight in La Jolla. Early, way unfinished, usual disclaimers given. I suppose I expected something along the lines of Journey to the Center of the Earth or Night at the Museum. A kiddie movie with some specatcle and humor thrown in. What I got was a cracked-out comedy with some spectacle and stuff for the kiddies thrown in. I went because I'll pretty much go see anything if it's early and free, which doesn't happen that much in the SD area, but I was kinda shocked that the movie is geared more toward me at age 24 than to a kid audience. If anything, the movie this looks most like right now in terms of tone (from the trailer I saw) is Year One. I was at Comic Con last year when they showed a little bit of Land of the Lost and it seemed totally geared to kids, but the film -- well, it sure as hell made me laugh more than I expected. Half out of thinking "I can't believe they're doing this" and half just because it's pretty goddamn funny. It's Will Ferrell in trademark arrogant buffoon mode, so decide if that's to your taste. It kind of is to mine especially after watching his Bush satire on HBO. This thing is like Anchorman crossed with Jurassic Park. Danny McBride is in his (too early to call it a trademark?) gonzo hillbilly mode. At one point he says something like "I moved tres times just to be closer to a Ruby Tuesday's." Actually Ferrell and McBride play this whole thing like Ricky Bobby and Kenny Powers' Excellent Adventure." Soo For example, one of McBride's earliest lines is calling a firecracker a "Mexican vasectomy." Later he tells the British Holly character (I looked it up and it's Anna Friel -- don't know her) that she should sit on this gigantic vibrating pyramid sculpture they find. Cracked out. When I looked up Anna Friel I also saw that Chaka is played by Jorma Taccone. Had no idea. From Jizz in My Pants to this. I don't really know the TV show it's based on outside of just the basic cheeseball look of it and knowing it's in some prehistoric land with dinosaurs and lizards. A lot of the audience seemed to know it, though, because they were laughing at things that were obvious call-outs to the series (like they repeat "a routine expedition" about 10 times and Ferrell comes out playing the banjo and singing what is the theme song at one point). The monkey boy character called Chaka is a horny little bitch in the movie. In fact, Ferrell is always yelling after him like "quit being such an asshole, Chaka!" I'm pretty sure that didn't happen in the TV show. The plot is ridiculous but it knows it is: Ferrell plays a disgraced scientist (by the way, one of the funniest bits in the whole movie is an interview with Matt Lauer right at the top. That guy has unbelievable timing. Really funny.). Ferrell has invented some contraption that reads tachion hits (?) and attracts this British scientist, Holly, who thinks he's a genius. They go out to a rinky-dink souvenir stand in the desert run by McBride and get sucked down a waterfall into another dimension. This is when things get really weird. It's not really the past, because there's random stuff thrown around like parts of the Golden Gate Bridge, a Viking ship, a Big Boy statue, etc. They make pals with Chaka who's been cast out of his village for being too horny. He feels up Holly repeatedly through the movie. One of the best things -- and something that will work for the kids, too -- is the main dinosaur, Grumpy. There's nothing really new or interesting about another CG dinosaur, but this one has a bad ass personality and they make him expressive. He gets to be a strategist, not just a dumb animal. He zeroes in on Ferrell as a dumbass and just goes after him for the rest of the movie. The Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner style of one-upping each other and the personality they give the T Rex makes it more interesting than just another digital dinosaur. There's also raptors and pterodactyls and the all the usual stuff. But there's also -- alert: MEN IN SUITS! A bunch of them. They play this slow-moving lizard race called Sleestacks (again from the series) and then there's this one lizard guy stuck in an alternate dimension named Enok. He sounds like Lawrence Fishburne crossed with a Dr. Who villain and is in a costume that looks about as good as one you'd buy for Halloween. But for some reason the very ridiculousness of it all is what is funny. Clearly everyone is in on the joke. There are some clever things thrown in, my favorite one being after the three of them go over the waterfall. Screen goes black for a few moments and then BAM! goes bright white with a big orchestral note played that is a direct homage to the opening of Close Encounters. And then there's just stupid stuff that you find yourself cracking up at like when Chaka is trying to say something in his language and McBride insists he's saying "chorizo tacos." I dunno, it works in that big belt buckle idiot kind of way. And I haven't even mentioned the show tunes. It's just all committed to being stupid, silly and funny and it works for the most part if you go with it and don't expect THE DARK KNIGHT. It's quintessential Ferrell put in a big-budget action movie. It's his usual jackass plopped down into THE LOST WORLD and left to fend for himself. One of the running gags is how stupid it was for him to go on an adventure dressed in Florsheim zipper boots. You half expect John C. Reilly to pop up at some point. He'd be right at home. In the end, I was glad I went. I'm not sure I would have been motivated to pay for this in the summer because I'd think I'm too old for it, but that isn't the case at all. It's crazy but maybe they've made the first stoner/frat-boy/kiddie/mainstream/mom-and-dad movie ever? If you've laughed at the Ferrell shtick before or if you think Eastbound and Down is awesome, you will laugh a lot.
That's two raves. Could we possibly go three-for-three?
Hi, I just got back from a test screening of LAND OF THE LOST in La Jolla. This was an un-finished rough cut with a temporary score and significant post-production and editing ahead. There were a lot of scenes that looked completed though and the unfinished backgrounds and dinosaurs didn't really take that much away from the film, which is a good thing in my opinion. That means the film isn't wholly relying on special effects and sight gags to tell its story, but I digress. Without going into a lot of spoiler action, and to give it a quick synopsis, it's a very fun movie. No one is going to win any awards for it, but a lot of fun of nonetheless. The movie starts out with a preview of a non-descript astronaut/test pilot wandering through a swamp with three moons in the sky- our first preview of the Lost Land- and then quickly follows with the Dr. Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) interview with Matt Lauer on the set of the Today show. The interview isn't much longer than what's been seen in previews, but it is very funny. Fast forward three years to Marshall giving presentations at the Labrea Tar Pits in L.A. to school groups, as he's been completely discredited because of his scientific theories. Enter Holly (Anna Friel) who works in the tar pits. She did her thesis (or doctorate) at Cambridge on Marshall's theories, even though he's considered a hack. (Later we learn she's tossed out of her program because of the paper and her belief in Marshall's theories- she still thinks he's brilliant.) Holly convinces Marshall to complete his "tachyons concentrator" which is his theoretical way to breach the other parallel dimensions he theorizes about. Fast forward to the morning after- after a fourteen hour food binge- and Marshall has completed his concentrator, complete with a soundtrack of A CHORUS LINE. Marshall loves show tunes and he uses an iPod as the drive on his device. Holly convinces Marshall go to the place where she has tracked back a strong tachyon reading. This is when we're introduced to Will Stanton (Danny McBride) and his junk store in the desert, next to the "cave" that takes us to the Lost Land. As a sidebar, McBride is hysterical in this movie, probably as funny as he was in PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. The cave is a mostly abandoned sideshow attraction with a 14-inch deep ditch that serves as the river. Very funny. Holly turns on the concentrator and we're transported to the Lost Land via a nod to the original raft over the waterfall from the TV series. The romp through the Lost Land is pretty much what one would expect; dinosaurs, giant bugs, lizard people with giant black eyes- Chaka. Chaka (Jorma Taccone) is a high point in the movie. He's awfully funny and we learn he's either a Prince or a Rapist. Either way it doesn't matter as he's absolutely charming as Chaka. Chaka and Will form a team, and together with Marshall and Holly they wage war against the dinosaur, that leads them on what will be a very entertaining dino chase scene. They take refuge in a cave at the top of a cliff that is full of all sorts of earth artifacts from mummies to an old Victrola. Clearly people have been coming to this alternate dimension for a long time whether they wanted to or not. Marshall is "summoned" by a psychic signal from Enich, who ends up being an advanced version of the regular lizard people. Before we meet Enich we are introduced to all the regular lizard people, who chase our crew into what eventually be some sort of crystal obelisk of some sort (remember, unfinished effects). Enich tells a story of a rogue lizard (Zorro, Zaturn- his voice is Leonard Nimoy though and that's really cool to me) that turns out to be a red herring for his own plot for domination. Last half of the movie moves pretty quickly. There's a mosquito (mind you a mosquito we not seen since JUMANJI) that gets a huge reaction from everyone. The desert scenes are great. It's a parking lot of all sorts of pop culture objects and artifacts that are still dropping in - Golden Gate Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Hotels, Good Humor Men, etc. There is drunken pool party with hallucinogenic coconuts that's a riot, made even funnier by the crab boil at the end. The movie ends on a so-so note. There's a pole vault into a dinosaur scene that raises an eyebrow and is explained away later by toilet humor that makes no sense, but that's the world we're in after all. The final resolution isn't wholly unsatisfying, other than Enich (special lizard man) who never works for me on any level. So much so that it wouldn't surprise me if he's role is scrapped and completely re-written and re-shot. It wouldn't be that hard, as he's really not that crucial to the plot as he's barely in it. Marshall gets the girl, proves his theory and then writes a second book, which is a nod to his original interview with Matt Lauer and it's very funny, as it's introduced during a second interview with Lauer. Matt Lauer is a hoot in the film, and his is a really funny cameo/bit part. Separate from the movie itself is Will Ferrell. This, in my opinion, is a different Will Ferrell than we've seen. Instead of playing the guy spewing out opinions and statements that are intended to get a laugh and are completely non-sensical, we get a Will Ferrell who's really playing a character that you almost want to believe in. It's a very thin but discernable line and is very refreshing as it's not so slapstick as usual. Anyway, even though the effects aren't finished, and we get the use of the LAST OF THE MOHICANS score used in a film for the umpteenth time (temporary though it is), it's going to be a really fun summer film that you'll have a good time watching. Especially the crab boil - that still cracks me up. If you use this, call me squarin.

That's conclusive. LAND OF THE LOST sounds like a winner. And it better be 'cuz it's going up against Todd Phillips's extremely funny THE HANGOVER on June 5th. Hopefully, there's room for both.

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