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My adoration of all things Sid and Marty Krofft is a deep and abiding thing.  These kings of Saturday morning television provided me with a psychedelic view of life that was only limited by the chronically low budgets of their shows.  Their world gave me witches, wizards, sea monsters, talking hats, magic flutes, singing dragons and their use of snappy tunes and clever production design turned cheesy sets into fantastic wonderlands.  The charm of the old Sid and Marty Krofft shows seems to be an either-you-get-it-or-you-donít proposition.  This holds true for the modern remake of one of their most popular series, Land of the Lost.

Scientist Dr. Rick Marshall is a man with a dream, a dream of time warps. Oh, theyíre out there, and as shown in a rambunctious interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, heís willing to fight to defend his vision.  Utterly discredited by that YouTube-worthy fracas, Marshall is found three years later teaching his theories to a bunch of bored grade schoolers.  Enter Holly Cantrell, late of Cambridge University, who, despite the worldís derision, believes Dr. Marshallís ideas had merit and convinces the good doctor to accompany her on a casual expedition.  Apparently, the conditions for their experiment to work best under a dilapidated amusement park ride run by a local yahoo, Will Stanton.  Will gamely guides the pair through a Pirates of the Caribbean-style flume ride in a rubber raft, complete with rubber ďlizard menĒ falling from wires overhead, when Marshallís Tachyon Meter generates a blast of energy that turns the silly amusement into a rushing flood.  The trio is suddenly hurled over a waterfall and they wake in a desert littered with broken relics of Viking ships, Cessna planes and other souvenirs from distant times, past and future.  Marshall and Holly are thrilled the experiment works, but the three arenít so pleased to realise they are being pursued by creatures from a distant age with very sharp teeth and with the Tachyon Meter missing, thereís no way of getting home.  One of those creatures, a diminutive, fuzzy Neanderthal named Chaka becomes their guide around the strange land and they manage to barely stay a step ahead of a tyrannosaurus rex with a vendetta against Marshall and a tribe of real lizard men plotting to take over the trioís dimension of Earth.

Even if you donít know the first thing about the original Land of the Lost, this is worth seeing just to watch Will Ferrell riotously riffing off fellow funny man Danny McBride for 90 minutes.  Rick Marshall isnít a stretch for Ferrell, but the comedianís knack for playing dimwitted, pompous buffoons that canít put a foot right, does nicely here.  Marshall, for all his genius, is an idiot and his presumptions that his PhD, will get the crew through situations they could never have dreamed of are flattened time and again.  McBrideís whipsmart timing provides a perfect foil for Ferrell as Will is often the one behind the needle to Marshallís inflated ego.  I donít want to think about how many hours Jorma Taccone spent hunched over in a furry suit and bad prosthetic teeth as the Paku prince, Chaka.  In keeping with the entire production, this version of Chaka has a much sillier, adult edge as we see from Chakaís first meeting with the nubile Holly.  As the straight man of the piece, Anna Friel does get to do much other than be bright and perky and smarter than the men of the cast, which isnít hard.  She does do a nice update of the original Holly outfit of the plaid shirt and brick red trousers that never changed for the two years Land of the Lost ran on television, though it does get altered for a more Lara Croft look early on.

While Land of the Lost could be considered a very loose adaptation, what will be great for fans of the show is how faithfully theyíve kept in the memorable bits; thereís Grumpy the T- rex, whoís scarier looking than his now-ancient Jurassic Park ancestor.  Heís fast and agile and his battle of wits against Rick Marshall is a hoot:  Apparently, the old theory about dinosaurs having a brain the size of a walnut takes a very different perspective in Grumpyís world.  Of course, there were the critters I was most interested to see; those big, lumbering green lizards with pointed heads and huge globular eyes that haunted my childhood, the Sleestaks.  They look fantastic.  Director Brad Silberling doesnít speed them up, but instead adds plenty of them to form a slow, scary, green army.  They have been updated by a double row of pointy teeth and now you canít see the zippers on their suits.  The Sleestak Village looks perfect and the Pylons and mysterious crystals are all accounted for.  Good stuff.  Also from the old show, the intelligent Sleestak, Enik is here along with another smart lizard voiced by a well-known star from The Final Frontier.  The special effects are shockingly good and itís ironic how much money has been spent on making the best of this feature version of a show known for its cheesy, DIY trappings.  While this is meant to be a total comedy, the affection for the original show in all its quaint, low-budget melodrama is evident in every scene.  As for how adult that comedy is; I donít know what young ones are going to make of a hallucinogenic bacchanal that ends with a bout of homoerotic spooning for Marshall, Will and Chaka.  The neat dinosaur chase scenes and the groupís interactions with other prehistoric creatures will keep the kids amused; including an early-era mosquito that makes a tasty treat of Marshall while he serenades the team to the tune of the Land of the Lost theme song.

Land of the Lost makes a wise decision to never take the easy route and poke fun at the flaws of its source material; instead it takes the best parts of the beloved series and puts a hilariously off-the-wall spin on it.  Will this movie be viewed favourably by people who never saw or appreciated the show?  Not likely, and thatís part of what makes Land of the Lost so much fun and even a little subversive; at no point are the filmmakers ever worried about straying from its campy origins, which makes it all the more audacious.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

June 2nd, 2009






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(Courtesy of  Universal Pictures)



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