Sunday, 9 October 2011

MOVIE MONDAY - A LOST CAUSE...


“The most protean aspect of comedy is its potentiality for transcending itself, for responding to the conditions of tragedy by laughing in the darkness.” - Harry Levin

We watched an absolutely abysmal film last weekend that did not promise much to begin with, but which we nevertheless decided to watch as we wanted a little bit of a laugh and had absolutely no desire to immerse ourselves into something serious or emotionally taxing. It was Brad Silberling’s 2009 movie “Land of the Lost” with Will Ferrell, Danny McBride and Anna Friel. I must say that Ferrell doesn’t inspire me with great confidence when I see his films being advertised and this particular film was deep down the bottom of the specials bin at the video store – a heavenly sign, perhaps. This film was really bad… A puerile, quite unfunny, sci-fi fable about, about, about, hmmm, about 102 minutes long.

Ferrell plays a discredited scientist whose big brainchild is a tachyon amplifier that plays music from “A Chorus Line” as well as amplifying sub-atomic particle energy to transport people into a parallel dimension where present, past and future coalesce. He ends up building his machine and together with a Cambridge University dropout and a desert amusement park owner manages to transport the group to another dimension where dinosaurs coexist with cavemen (actors in obvious monkey suits), aliens (in green rubber suits) do battle with each other for control of the universe and where Ferrell bumbles his way through swamp and desert in order to save the universe. Terrible plot, abominable acting, scatological schoolboy jokes and a film that is Z-grade matinée fare.

The film is loosely based on the children’s TV Series “Land of the Lost” from the 70s, which was about Rick Marshall, and his two children Holly and Will, who got stranded in a strange and mysterious worlds, where time and space collided. This was a good series, but the film shares little with it. The original TV series had a sense of innocence, child-like wonder and was a good adventure TV show with a wonderful world of dinosaurs and simian semi-human creatures. It was tacky and inauthentic but at the same time quite sweet and wholesome, very characteristic of the era. All of this is lost in the film and the makers couldn’t seem to decide whether to make it a G-rated family film (like the original show) or whether it would be an adult comedy/parody full of sexual and drug jokes. While there is a lot of the latter, adult it is not.

We watched this film, but there was a lot of eye-rolling, much attempt to smile at some less objectionable jokes, lots of groaning, and some disgust at scenes that would have appealed to depraved teenage ninja turtles, perhaps. Ferrell to his credit tries to wade his way through the pitiful script written by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas and utters some abominably nonsensical drivel. The film has special effects and CGI (with some convincing dinosaurs), but there are also some very amateurish troglodytes in monkey suits and some very plastic looking aliens that reminded us of the “Creature of the Black Lagoon” on a bad day.

The sexual references were heavy-handed, the drug taking scenes hardly healthy role-modelling material, the scatological jokes rife and the level generally aimed at about ankle level. This is really a film that is struggling with itself and can hardly be saved. I can laugh at some nonsensical humour, but I really want it to be clever and witty. This was idiotic and witless and dragged on and on. The best part was the costive, bad-tempered tyrannosaur that had it in for Ferrell.

If you watched the 1070s TV series and look towards this movie for some nostalgia value, then don’t bother. If you are rather omnivorous and non-discriminating in your movie comedies or you are a fan of Will Ferrell, then you can watch this. The film cost $100 million to make and grossed just under $50 million. I guess the public voted with their feet and the bush telegraph ensured that word got around…

3 comments:

  1. Hahaha. Good review. I LOVED 'The Tree of Life' with Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst and a brief entrance by Sean Penn. It was so wonderfully written - terse but moving - just full of stirringly identifiable imagery.

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  2. I'll give this movie a miss! Thanks for the warning...

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