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.