Review: “Land of the Lost” funnier (and gayer) than it probably should be


Will Ferrell, Danny McBride and Cha-Ka 

You may have read our exclusive interview with Land of the Lost star Wesley Eure (he played Will on the beloved camp explosion that was the original series) in which he comes out as a gay man ("officially") and dishes the dirt on his relationship with Richard Chamberlain and much more.

While Eure doesn’t make an appearance in the big-budget action-movie adaptation of the show (his scene didn’t make the final cut), the movie still has a pretty gay sensibility to it. Believe it or not, "gay showtunes", interspecial same-sex threesomes, Sleestak lovin’, and Will Ferrell‘s continuing bucking of the fratboy homophobe mantle help make Land of the Lost a pleasing enough summer diversion for both gay fans of the show and newcomers to the man-cave.

First off, I know I’m going to take a serious drubbing for saying that this movie isn’t a disaster, because it’s getting positively blasted by the big critics (oh, no — it’s Speed Racer all over again!). But I have to say, there are far worse ways to spend your twelve bucks, and you won’t leave the theater feeling like you’ve just been made fun of for two hours by a group of homophobic jerks (that would be The Hangover, the other movie coming out on Friday … but that’s another story).

 

As one might expect, the film follows Marshall, Will and Holly on "a routine expedition" … only in this version Marshall (Dr. Rick) is a batty, time-travel-obsessed scientist with an eating disorder (think Doc Brown teetering on the verge of adult-onset diabetes), Holly (Pushing DaisiesAnna Friel) is an impossibly beautiful devotee of his work, and Will (Danny McBride) is a white-trash fireworks salesman who gets accidentally dragged along with them through the time rip.

Of course, the trio meet up with Cha-Ka (who’s considerably more pervy here than in the show), T-Rex Grumpy (not nearly as cute as the hand-puppet) and the Sleestaks, one of whom is voiced by Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton. But less expected is the movie’s gonzo, not-for-children detours, which involve everything from the guys tripping on a prehistoric absinthe (leading to a suggested threesome among them), dinosaur watersports, and a duet of Cher‘s "Believe".

A lot of people seem to be taking umbrage that the movie isn’t particularly kid-friendly with all its F-bombs, sexual references and poop jokes. But let’s face it: What the hell does a kid in 2009 care about Land of the Lost to begin with? This movie is a keg-stand of pure nostalgia made specifically for those people who, despite years of therapy, cannot seem to scrub the batshit original series off their cerebral cortexes. People in their thirties, who can handle a swear word or two and, yes, even a persistent running gag centered around the original Broadway cast recording of "I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line that culminates in a full musical number (not even kidding).

 

Yes, the movie hits almost as often as it misses with its gags, and the tone falls somewhere between "wildly uneven" and "aggressively weird". But the fever-dream quality is, in my opinion, wholly intentional and entirely appropriate, as is the movie’s fascination with our cultural relics (much of the movie takes place in a desert that is a sort of dumping ground of people and things that have been sucked out of other times), as which the original series surely qualifies.

It may be bloated with loud, needless effects and stupid gags, but show me a summer movie that isn’t. And really, I’d rather spend my 90 minutes with the goofy high spirits of Ferrell and company than the hollow, mock-retro cool of the next Transformers atrocity or self-aggrandizing X-Men spinoff. As "air conditioning with benefits", you could do much worse.

Tags: , , ,