The most interesting thing about melding space elements, sci-fi and comedy is tone. Sometimes there are brilliant moments and some that just fall flat. Then there are scenes where you wonder how that happened. A good example of that kind of mixture that really seemed to create an almost cult like feel was “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” a couple years back. However that was predicated upon a literary reference point whereas point A to point B to point C created a throughline but there was substantial little tidbits in between. “Land Of The Lost” as a comparison seems like it was thrown together and ad libbed in general for the most part. Now on the whole, this might seem a little happenstance but considering it is Will Ferrell’s movie, the interaction especially with CG T-Rexes and weird Mermen running around is fairly fluid. The balance on set must have been quite interesting. Brad Silbering known for films like “Lemony Snicket” and “Casper” has his hooks in the visual style but it seems the comedy was simply done out of his sight as almost a director for hire. Besides Anna Friel of “Pushing Daisies” (looking spot on like Zooey Deschanel) who seems to be the only one doing her actual lines, everybody else is completely off the page.
Ferrell seems to like to play to extremes his aspects of self depreciation and making fun of his physical self. It works but goes too far at a certain point with enema jokes and bad wet t-shirt angles. Danny McBride who Ferrell himself discovered however is spot on most of the time although some of the ad libs seem to push Ferrell beyond his star power comfortability zone. He still goes there but you wonder why. McBride oddly enough shines more brightly at points. Then there are some sequences that just lose all perspective. Somehow however one of those sequences is the most memorable. This one in particular has the boys (Ferrell, McBride and their monkeyboy cohort) where they all get trashed on some narcotic fruit and end up hanging at a Route 66 pool that has been time warped and dropped into the middle of an alternate universe desert. Just the dialogue and the essence of how freaky the situation is makes you think of some of the stuff that comic actors got away with in the early 80s specifically in Universal movies. It is really fun but ends haphazardly although the big crab is more than a little metaphorical.
The reality is that the movie’s screenplay is super paper thin. However it might have been constructed that way for these guys to do their thing. But Ferrell and McBride are no Jim Carrey or Robin Williams who make this kind of “off the cuff” humor look effortless. You can see the two guys trying really hard. Sometimes the fact that you can see the cracks is not so good. However it is at the very end of the movie when it is only McBride and Monkeyboy in the desert that the movie seems to find its focus. It is like “Year One” hot tub style. That is a sequel I would like to see. “Land Of The Lost”, as a movie, is a cauldron of different styles and ideas that don’t quite mix together most of the time. Certain experiments succeed and some fail but to watch a big budget dice roll is always interesting. The problem is that the audience will either warm to this film a little bit or it will fail miserably. That remains to be seen. For effort, I give “Land Of The Lost” a 2 1/2.