Will Ferrell plays scientist Dr. Rick Marshall whose theories on time warps and other dimensions has made him a joke in the scientific community. After being disgraced by Matt Lauer on the NBC Today show, his career goes down the tubes. Years later, he is paid a visit by Dr Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) who convinces him to complete his research and test it in the field. On the way they meet up with redneck tour guide Will Stanton (Danny McBride) and the trio are sucked into a space-time vortex landing in a world where past, present and future co-exist. They meet up with a primate name Cha-ka (played with gusto by Jorma Taccone – one of the guys behind the songs “I’m on a Boat” and “Jizz in my Pants”) and together the group fight their way through dinosaurs and all kinds of creatures to find a way home.
In describing the film like that, it sounds like a serious action adventure film but it is actually incredibly silly. Will Ferrell brings his usual brand of comedy to his role and, for the most part, he is hilarious. At times, you find yourself groaning slightly at some of the jokes and there are a few moments here and there that fall flat but the great majority of the jokes are great, particularly throw away lines and reactions to situations.
Danny McBride works really well up against Ferrell and holds his own with some great one liners and a constant stream of fairly low brow humour. At first, the character Cha-Ka is a little annoying but as the film progresses, he is given more to do and is quite funny. The straight man of the film is definitely Anna Friel who is a fairly unknown face for most audiences outside the UK. She plays the “attractive love interest” well and her almost fanboy-style love for Marshall comes across from the moment she first meets him.
The great thing about this film is that even when it seems extremely stupid and has you laughing like a madman, it still manages to find ways to get even more ludicrous. The plot isn’t exactly well thought out, at times, and you can see the various twists coming a mile off but it doesn’t matter because the journey of getting there is the point of the film. However, if you are seriously watching a Will Ferrell comedy and trying to point out plot holes, you are missing the point of the film.
The production design is done by one of my absolutely favourite designers, Bo Welch who has worked on many of Tim Burtons best films like Edward Scissorhands, Bettlejuice and Batman Returns as well as the Men in Black films. The landscape looks amazing and the design of the world blends everything from the Kitch 50s through to Vikings and 70s motels. The visual effects are done convincingly well. “Grumpy” the T-Rex, is a great character in the film and the completion of the war between him and Ferrells character is hilarious when it pays off.
As a night owl from way back, I’ve been watching the NBC Today Show for over 10 years so, for me, it was hilarious to see Matt Lauer in this film. For many Australians he isn’t well known but even so he holds his own against Ferrell and is very funny. The NBC today show is a morning program like our own Today, Sunrise or Good Morning Australia.
If you want a good laugh and love Will Ferrell films, Land of the Lost will not disappoint. It’s a lot more action packed than most of his comedies but doesn’t sacrifice any laughs in favour of action.