Land of the Lost In Space, the Final Frontier

Sid and Marty Krofft’s Land of the Lost, which aired on NBC from 1974-76, garnered a cult-like following. While its finer elements have been lost to time, its landmark characters, like the Sleestaks and Cha-Ka, were memorable enough to place the kid’s serial on the landscape of American pop culture.

Now, there’s a 2009 film version of LotL that practically ignores every vestige of the original series. Instead of a continuation, or a re-launch or even a reimagineering, filmmakers decided to parody the original and add the comedy stylings of Hollywood funny man, the hilarious Will Ferrell, a.k.a., America’s jester.

Therefore LotL is not at all nostalgic and, sadly, it’s not at all very funny.

Land of The Lost starred, from left to right,  Will Ferrell, and Anna Friel.

Land of The Lost stars, from left to right, Danny McBride, Will Ferrell, and Anna Friel.

The good news: for Will Ferrell fans this flick contains just enough of his genius to get your summer Ferrell fix. While some will blame Ferrell for reprising his Ron Burgundy-Ricky Bobby-Chazz Michael Michaels-Jackie Moon character, Ferrell is NOT rehashing those rolls. Dr. Rick Marshall is quite understated and Ferrell does a nice job. Is it a complete 180? No, but its different nonetheless.

LotL moves very fast. This comes at the expense of the story, but who cares. It’s a popcorn comedy not a Fellini film. Basically it’s just a bunch of sketches tied together with a razor thin plot. Actually, this screwball comedy has more action than most action films.

Instead of employing the charming but cheesy effects of its small screen cousin, LotL uses CGI special effects that are actually pretty good.

Matt Lauer, of Today Show fame is in the film’s beginning and ending scene. He’s quite funny. In fact, next to the main three leads, he’s about the only other human in the film.

Now, the bad news: this flick is just not funny enough to make you forget it has no story nor is story compelling enough to make you forget that it’s not funny enough.

However, there is an immense mystery behind LotL. That is, why did Hollywood choose to waste this franchise on a Ferrell vehicle? A Ferrell movie doesn’t need the LotL brand or any brand for that matter.

While critics like to deride old shows for their poor effects, there's something to be said for cheesy costumes, sets and special effects.  They usually

A screen capture from the third season of the LotL television show. While critics like to deride older shows for their poor production values, there's something to be said for cheesy costumes, sets and special effects. They usually indicate a higher level of imagination and creativity as makers lack the luxury of leaving everything up to a computer.

The characters, the plot and the setting of this movie could have been easily made without the LotL franchise. Fans of the original probably wish it would have been.

Why LotL wasn’t re-launched as a kid-friendly adventure is a noodle scratcher. With CGI graphics, and the possibilities for product and toy tie-ins, it seems like a no-brainer.

Perhaps “market research” revealed that 40 people in Topeka, Kansas would have rather seen LotL turned into a sophomoric, bathroom-humor filled Ferrell vehicle that pretty much belittles the original franchise and insults its fans.

Or maybe the studio felt those who enjoyed watching LothL as child would not enjoy taking their own kids to see it in a theater. After all, the movie version is anything but kid friendly. In fact, if you compare the two the differences are quite frightening. In the series, Holly was Rick Marshall’s daughter. In the movie, Holly, played by Anna Friel (with her original English accent), was Marshall’s love interest. Obviously, the screen writers have some issues.

Or maybe Sid and Marty Krofft, producers of the movie, held this franchise in contempt or despised the sycophant fans of the franchise. Or maybe they just wanted a paycheck.

Whatever the reason, Land of the Lost is a adult film that ONLY appeals to hardcore Ferrell fans. LotL fans are warned to stay away.


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