The critics have had their say on Will Ferrell’s Land of the Lost, and one thing many seem to agree on — apart from not liking it — is their bafflement over how such a movie was ever green-lit: “Who is this thing for? Why does it even exist?” asks Stephanie Zacharek, echoing the basic sentiments of pretty much everybody on Metacritic. It’s based on a TV series from 1974 that hardly anybody is nostalgic for, and even if anyone were, the movie ditches all but a few touchstones; instead of a father, pigtailed daughter, and son living in an alternate prehistoric universe, the new LoTL features Ferrell, his pigtailed love interest (Anna Friel), and Danny McBride as some random redneck (the film’s trio are named Rick, Holly, and Will, just like the family in the TV show, though). The dinosaurs and bad-on-purpose special effects are familiar, but one wonders why they even bothered to pay Sid and Marty Krofft for the rights — if Will Ferrell wanted to make a time-travel movie in which he takes off his shirt and fights with Tyrannosauruses, wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just commission an original script (which they basically did anyway)? Why spend $100 million to do what’s more or less a loose parody of Land of the Lost?
Courtesy of Universal
One word: Sleestaks. We saw the movie on Monday, and trust us — those things are ten times as funny as you remember. Just look at them! Almost every other element of Land of the Lost (time travel, the setting, dinosaurs, the characters, etc.) could’ve easily been included with only slight tweaks and it wouldn’t have required resuscitating any franchise. The only reasonable explanation for remaking the TV show, as far as we can tell, is that Will Ferrell found Sleestaks irresistibly hilarious and just wanted to make a movie with them in it. And at least LoTL makes the most of them — we see a pair having sex, and when they shed their skins, Ferrell and McBride wear them as disguises. If you find either actor funny in anything (as we do, admittedly) then it’s a pretty good sight gag. Maybe not one worth $100 million, but we laughed.
As for the crappy reviews, we agree with Movieline — it’s a pretty good stoner comedy being mismarketed as a kid’s movie. We’re not sure we liked it quite as much as Roger Ebert did (“I guess you have to be in the mood for a goofball picture like this. I guess I was”), but we left the theater pretty happy. Like we said, though, we find Ferrell funny in anything. (Especially Sleestak skin.)
So Why Does Land of the Lost Exist, Anyway?