Harry was taken aback from his visit to LAND OF THE LOST!
I grew up with LAND OF THE LOST. But more than that, I grew up with liberal as hell parents that let me see everything from Cheech & Chong films to FLESH GORDON to the silent LOST WORLD, KING KONG, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH and on and on and on. It was the Seventies - and the world was very different. VERY different. As proof, you need look no further than Sid & Marty Krofft's Television shows. They were very bizarre. The show was amongst the most ambitious live-action children shows ever attempted.
How can I say that? Well, for the budget at the time, the schedule... to try and pull off a bizarre Edgar Rice Burroughs juvenile adventure show... Well - it was insanity, but dammit, they tried it and they made a show that was more about ideas than execution. It was my introduction to parallel dimensions, years before reading about weird dimensions on comic books, and further still from my paperback discoveries. In a way, LAND OF THE LOST was a gateway drug for science fiction/fantasy for an entire generation. It was the first place I heard that mushrooms did things to your mind. It was progressively stranger and more intensely science fiction. Sure it started with dinosaurs named Grumpy and Dopey - but man... when the story got to Pylons and that other weird shit. Fried this young boy's brain.
That said - you look at the show today and you have an entirely different reaction. You see just how rough, visually, it all was. There's tons of laughs, intentional and not. And the more adult things... you see them too. When I asked Marty how he got that sort of thing past the Network, he said they were clueless. Great answer.
So when I arrived at the screening, and saw everyone clutching their Chaka backpacks, and posing in fear at the awesome might of Grumpy, the T-Rex. Well... I was happy. This was going to be the perfect audience to see whatever it was that Brad Silberling had put together.
The first thing you need to know about LAND OF THE LOST is that it is rated PG 13. The film has often sexual references, the dialogue is filled with strong strong language and there is a drug experience. Now - you never see tits. The drug experience is with something that can only be found in the land of the lost universe - but it is a pleasant and enjoyable trippy experience with munchies and all.
The film is exactly what you would expect from this team of creators. Do you like Will Ferrell? Well, he's silly as hell here. After a tragic TODAY SHOW confrontation with Matt Lauer, his funding for his "Time Warp" theories go down the drain. Marshall ends up working at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Where he's sought out by the oh my god hot, Anna Friel - who is playing Holly Cantrell. A hot graduate student that gave up everything to pursue Marshall's theories... and find him to show him the evidence she has.
They hook up with Danny McBride's trailer trash Will Stanton - he works at a roadside cave attraction that he's trying to parlay into a giant Casino of his own.
Now the the film is very funny, very goofy, VERY BROAD and hopelessly irreverent. This film is gorgeously produced, but far far more adult in its humor than anything UNIVERSAL has hinted at. To me, this was a relief and also something that I realized could end up leaving a bad taste in a lot of parents' mouths that don't want their innocent kids to ask, "Mommy, why is that man putting his hand into his pants, what's he gonna do?" Because... that scene is there. There's even a scene where the characters blitzed out of their minds on some alien prehistoric drug juice - where Danny McBride tries to get Will Ferrell's character to "french kiss" Cha-Ka. Now you don't see that happen, but they get real close.
For me, the audience for this film is anyone that grew up in the seventies with LAND OF THE LOST, but was old enough to enjoy the hell out of Ringo Starr's CAVEMAN. That's a particular audience.
All those caveats to the side - Harry, what did you think of the movie?
I had a blast with it. As did the majority of the audience. The biggest flaw with the film, isn't the film - but the marketing campaign for this movie. The fear that they had to make this a Family Film in order to market it, but the reality is - it can play to a much older audience, and by selling it as a family film - there will be very upset families, possibly. Not all. There were lots of kids here at our event, and their parents seemed to be fine with it. And none of these kids seemed traumatized by Will Ferrell's pants plunge.
The fact is kids can take the more adult stuff, because they live with adults - and at some point we all figure out why Mom & Dad's door is closed - and that weird stuff happens in the real world. Personally, I think all the kids will be distracted by Grumpy the T-Rex and those amazingly creepy fucking Sleestaks.
Btw - The Sleestaks rule. They're slow moving, but when they get close and they're about to get you, their mouths open up and man. Nightmares man. Seriously, I never once thought about a Sleestak's mouth before, but I can imagine the little boy that once watched this show with wonder, getting freaked the fuck out. Because those Sleestaks worked their ways into more than one childhood nightmare. Here... here it's a few new wrinkles that reminded me how creepy these silly slow moving reptile men were.
And this all brings me to CHA-KA and the man in the costume, one Jorma Taccone. In the original series, CHA-KA was a cute little boy in freaky make-up. He was going to get eaten by Grumpy, but the Marshall kids saved him, they fixed his leg and became their friend.
Here - Cha-Ka is a primitive pre-man fur thing, that was saved from execution from his own people, which we later are meant to believe was a Coup attempt. Cha-Ka is a Prince among his brethren. Jorma is such a magnificent dirty bastard. Everytime the rough gets going, he leaves our "heroes" in the lurch. You can tell that Cha-Ka isn't an idiot, he knows lots more than he's letting on. While he doesn't "speak English" he seems to perfectly understand it. Not only that, but... well, I won't spoil it.
Cha-Ka is pretty damn filthy, from grabbing Anna Friel's boobs, to humping Will's leg and groping his crotch.
Is it a great film? No. Bo Welch's production design is great. As is the score by Michael Giacchino, who has pulled off 3 solid scores within a month! Without any of them sounding anything like each other.
The visual effects are quite a bit of fun. The various CG characters are a blast - in particular, they've managed to get quite a bit of personality into a fully rendered and non-cartoony T-Rex. It is some very nice character animation. The look of the world is dead on. At every level it LOOKS like LAND OF THE LOST, even if the tone is completely subverted by the funny characters now occupying the universe.
I'm not sure I could have taken this done to very many of my childhood properties, but there was always a silliness to the original. And I guarantee, that once they enter a pylon - kids are going to be amazed just like when I discovered what they meant.
But I've got a sneaking suspicion that like much of the Krofft productions - the subversive part of society will discover and exploit the very overt trippiness that this film has going for it.
That said, this won't play to everyone. But if it plays for you, you're gonna really really have a good time, like we did at the Alamo.