Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lost In Time And Lost In Space...And Meaning

I am not a pop culture purist which is why I'm able to enjoy films like the new Star Trek for what they are rather than completely losing it and feeling that the change in the timeline and the fact that Kirk now has a 2009 haircut are the absolute worst things ever and were clearly part of a conspiracy against me.

Which brings me to Land of the Lost. I'm not a Land of the Lost TV show fanatic but I do have good memories of it. While it was basically an adventure show for kids, it was also intelligent and provocative enough to appeal to older fans of serious science fiction. That's not surprising considering it included writers like David Gerrold and Larry Niven. The new movie version of Land of the Lost that came out this week is anything but serious science fiction. It is a comedy with high concept special effects. This brings me to my point: I don't mind this at all. Oh sure, I'll approach this new product with a high degree of skepticism and wonder ahead of time how it will measure up to the original, but if they want to make it a comedy, all I ask is that they make it a funny and entertaining comedy. So, was it?

Wellllllllll...sometimes. There were some very funny moments AND there were some very unfunny moments. The lead character is Dr. Rick Marshall, a physicist whose theories of traveling to alternate dimensions have long since made him a laughing stock in the scientific community. Marshall is what you might describe as a Will Farrell Character. This would be a type of character that Will Farrell often plays who is something of an idiot savant. He excels and performs at a genius level on one particular area of life but fails utterly at just about everything else. Luckily, Will Farrell was available to play this Will Farrell role so that worked out.

Rick Marshall has been reduced to teaching grade school science where even his 4th grade class feels free to call his theories stupid. However, he still has one believer in the form of fellow physicist Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) who convinces him to take some sort of time/space transporting thing that Marshall has invented (which basically looks like a couple of batteries tied to a wave detector, probably because that's what it was) on an expedition to an area of the country known for...oh God I don't know...some kind of science fictiony stuff.

This is where we meet Will Stanton (Danny McBride), a redneck survivalist type who gives tours of a cave known for strange occurrences. If you're thinking, "Hey, weren't Will and Holly the names of Rick Marshall's teenage children in the television show?" you would be correct. Now, Marshall's son is a crude, low brow survivalist and his daughter is a hot scientist with whom he wants to have sex. Got that? Let's move on.

Marshall's dumb looking machine actually works and opens a rift in space/time that plunges them into...THE LAND OF THE LOST. Old stuff from the TV show is now incorporated into this new movie, such as the monkey-man Cha-Ka, Grumpy the T-Rex and the race of lizard men known as the Sleestaks. However, all these things now exist for comic effect. Due to a miscommunication, Cha-Ka routinely grabs Holly's breasts and also serves as a foil for Marshall's manic personality. Grumpy, who seems to have a rudimentary understanding on English, actually takes offense when Marshall ridicules the intelligence of the T-Rex. The barbaric Sleestaks can't decide whether they're mindless killers or part of an ancient society (in their defense, there is a point in the movie where they fall under the control of a mad scientist).

The rest of the plot isn't worth discussing as it merely serves as a framework for jokes. So, are there enough funny jokes to make this movie worth seeing? It really depends on the individual. I did laugh quite a bit but not enough to recommend the movie. Yes, surprisingly, Will Farrell's humor based on socially inappropriate behavior and frequent manic outbursts actually got old. However, the three teenage boys sitting behind me seemed to be having a good time all the way to the end. However, I think that particular audience would have a better time going to see The Hangover and they must have agreed since that movie made about twice the money this one did last weekend.

So, Land of the Lost isn't as bad as I had heard but it's not that great. I just wish the producers hadn't destroyed my childhood by completely changing everything...oh damn, now they've got me doing it.

1 comment:

Michael Clear said...

Didn't notice till just now that the title read "Lots in time" instead of "Lost in time." I need an editor.