Monday 3 August 2009

Review: Land of the Lost

Year: 2009
Director: Brad Silberling
Screenplay: Chris Henchy, Dennis McNicholas
Starring: Will Farrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride

Land of the lost is so bad I went home and tried to pour mouthwash in my ears to try and cleanse my brain and erase my mind of its existence. Here is a film so naff that it annoyed me that the filmmakers spent so much money in making the film look so cheap. I won't bad mouth the effects a such because they are meant to look hokey. However at one point a dinosaurs arm goes right through Danny McBride's head. There's cheap and then there's damn lazy.

In fact when thinking about the movie again (mouthwash didn't work) the entire enterprise screams of a definite lack of trying. It's almost as if some switched on a camera and waiting for something funny to fall out of Will Farrell's mouth. Said camera must have been on for a long time because he says hardly anything of note here.

For me the best comic improvisation stems from having a amusing moment enhanced by the actor placing something unexpected upon it. Be it a look, a small line or some other inflection, the joke was already in place, the actor (or even the director) has merely built upon it. Land of the lost doesn't have any truly comic moments of note, so when Danny McBride and Will Farrell start to improvise, it's painfully obvious, to add to this, what they come up with is unbelievably bland with nothing to back it up.

It's obvious that this film will mean a hell of a lot more to those who were fans of the show (not me personally) but similar films out there (See: Galaxy Quest) know how to balance the films tone so that it respects the cult status of what it's making light of (In GQ's case Star Trek) but doesn't lose those who "don't get it". Here we are given crude jokes within an flavourless family adventure. To make things worse the jokes aren't even written particularly well, everything seems to rely on Farrell making something up on the spot with none of the "stylish" crassness that made Anchorman and Talladega Nights so amusing to me.

Usually I feel I'm the only person who these pompous thoughts, but no. A quick glance around the cinema and hardly a titter (except for the family next to me). I won't lie to you and say I didn't laugh at all, but the fact it didn't even reach double figures and is a "comedy" certainly says something.

It's not like director Brad Silberling hasn't done right with me before. I thoroughly enjoyed what he did with Lemony Snickets: A Series of Unfortunate Events and I didn't mind Casper when I was younger. I think the problem I have here is source material. It seems like the idea of going "all out" with a parody these days is merely smattering the words shit and fuck into sentences. Although it is hard to fall in love with "homages" like this. Case in point I have no problem with the Brady Bunch movie but that may be because it doesn't feel like a lengthened SNL skit.

From an actors point of view, if you like Will Farrell you won't give a damn what I'm telling you but quite simply, he doesn't work in this film. In fact it seems that he has trouble figuring out on whether he's the straight man or not and his performance is uneven. Danny McBride is in a land of limbo; both with me and his state within the film, while Anna Friel is spunky but underused, however those hot pants...well played costume design.

I won't say anymore about Land of the lost because there's not much else to say about it. It's a dry, flat movie which believes that sporadic laughs are the way forward in comedy believes it can rely on only it's vague premise to succeed. Ces't la vie.