AWFJ Women On Film – “Land of The Lost” – Susan Granger reviews

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Before damning this big-screen parody with a paucity of praise, it has to be acknowledged that the original 1970s NBC-TV Saturday morning children’s show was pretty stupid. (If you doubt the cheesiness, rent a couple of episodes to verify.)

This time, the trio consists of Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) an argumentative crackpot scientist, an authority on ‘quantum paleontology,’ who is humiliated by Matt Lauer on the ‘Today’ show as the action begins; his assistant, Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel), a spunky British doctoral candidate; and Will Stanton (Danny McBride), a redneck California desert firecracker salesman/tour-guide. Yet the premises remains the same as three inhabitants of our world travel in a yellow raft unwittingly through a time portal and find themselves trapped in a parallel universe, a surreal alternate reality, replete with dinosaurs and other strange “Jurassic Park” creatures, along with remnants of a Viking ship, the Golden Gate bridge, China’s Great Wall, an ice cream truck and drive-in theater. Or, as Dr. Marshall puts it: “the past, present and future are all mashed up.” Eventually, they hook up with an ape/man named Chaka (Jorma Taccone of “Saturday Night Live”), whose screechy language is translated by Holly. (Apparently, a UCLA linguist was hired to develop the simian vocabulary.) And dodge the dreaded Sleestak.

Directed with obvious desperation by Brad Silberling (“Casper”) from a screenplay by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas, it’s, basically, a derivative string of crude, bawdy, repetitive comedy sketches that grow stale very quickly. One of the funniest – Ferrell’s notion that dousing himself with dinosaur urine will make him ‘invisible’ to predators – is in the theatrical trailer, so you’ve probably already seen it. And another, having Dr. Marshall’s “tachyon amplifier,” constructed of old computer parts, continually playing the original recording of “A Chorus Line,” is a gimmick that worked better in “WALL-E,” when the robot repeatedly listened to an old VHS tape of “Hello, Dolly.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Land of the Lost” is a tiresome, time-warped 2. The title says it all.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.