Never Insult a Dinosaur
by Betty Jo Tucker
When meeting a dinosaur, remember to treat the creature with common courtesy. By all means, avoid saying anything hinting at the small size of the huge reptile’s brain. Dr. Rick Marshall learns that crucial lesson and more in Land of the Lost. Portrayed hilariously by Will Ferrell, this disgraced scientist finds himself in a strange parallel universe after traveling through a space-time vortex. But he’s not alone. An admiring research assistant — played by Anna Friel — and a redneck survivalist — portrayed by Danny McBride — are also along for the wackiest adventure of their lives. It’s a silly movie with ridiculous costumes and sets that almost match those in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space, one of the worst films ever made. And I loved it!
As usual, Ferrell (Blades of Glory) gets into his outlandish character with every fiber of his being.В He gives Dr. Marshall just the right combination of self-importance and cluelessness. When he says things like “Remember to point your toes” while directing his posse as they swing from ropes to escape a dangerous situation, I couldn’t help bending over with laughter. I had the same reaction watching him sing “I Hope I Get It” (from A Chorus Line) as he tries to retrieve his time travel invention after discovering it in a nest of dinosaur eggs about to hatch. And his running battle with television’s Matt Lauer is absolutely hysterical.
Competition in the acting department comes from —В believe it or not — Grumpy, a dinosaur who hates Dr. Marshall, and Chaka (Jorma Taccone), a monkey-man who joins the humans after they save him from execution by his peers. Grumpy seems very real indeed. We can see him think, re-act and rage at Dr. Marshall’s insults. Chaka is hard to take at first, but he grows on you. He’s especially appealing when he learns to belt out a rousingВ show tune. Friel (TV’s Pushing Daisies) and McBride (Tropic Thunder) are also fun to watch as their characters suffer through many humorous crises caused by the oblivious Dr. Marshall.
Will the intrepid time travelers ever find their way back home? It’s hard to care. Because they’re so funny in their new environment, we start thinkingВ they belong there.
Directed by Brad Silberling (Moonlight Mile) and inspiredВ byВ the 1970s TV series of the same name, Land of the Lost asks viewers to take off their thinking caps and put on their dunce hats. Comic rewards await for those who agree to do just that.
(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG-13” for crude and sexual content and for language including a drug reference.)