Will Ferrell remains one of the few actors who, simply by showing up on the screen, elicits giggles from a theater full of people. The knowing smirk, squinting eyes and curly hair all combine to overwhelm the audience’s faculties. He just looks funny.
The same goes for Danny McBride, whose brief body of work — feature films including “Tropic Thunder,” “Pineapple Express” and “The Foot Fist Way,” along with HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” — has elicited a similar reaction. When Mr. McBride talks in that authoritative redneck tone he owns so thoroughly, people laugh. They can’t help themselves.
Mr. Ferrell’s and Mr. McBride’s natural charisma isn’t sufficient to save “Land of the Lost,” the big-budget remake of the cheesy 1970s Saturday morning show. The two are, however, funny enough to garner a few laughs from otherwise awful material.
Mr. Ferrell stars as Dr. Rick Marshall, a scientist whose theory of time warps as a source of energy has sucked up about $50 million of government funding and led to his rejection by the scientific community. Wallowing in self-pity, Rick has abandoned his plan to create some sort of tachyon-particle-focusing device, leaving his life’s work unfinished.
Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) is having none of that: The foreign beauty tells Rick that she got kicked out of Cambridge for buying into his wacky beliefs and demands that he follow through with what he started. The pair travel to a site known for its high concentration of tachyons — hypothetical particles thought to move faster than the speed of light. There they encounter Will Stanton (Mr. McBride), the redneck who owns the property they need to examine.
Once they’ve arrived in the Land of the Lost — where past, present and future collide — the trio befriend an ape-man named Chaka (Jorma Taccone), try to avoid getting eaten by an angry T-Rex (CGI), fight the lizardlike Sleestaks (various men in rubber costumes) and aid the mysterious Enik (John Boylan) in his bid to defeat the Zarn (Leonard Nimoy).
The plot, such as it is, is incidental to any enjoyment one will find in “Land of the Lost.” The set pieces are little more than excuses for Mr. McBride and Mr. Ferrell to alternately riff off each other or run away from computer-generated dinosaurs. Sometimes they do both at the same time. Sometimes they riff off of each other while pouring dinosaur urine on their heads. It’s quite the adventure with these two leading the way.
This isn’t quite the family film someone who remembers the original program might expect: “Land of the Lost” is rated PG-13 for a reason. There’s nothing too shocking in this picture — nothing we haven’t seen before in other Ferrell pictures such as “Anchorman” or “Talladega Nights” — but it might be a little more than some families will want the little ones to see.
TITLE: “Land of the Lost”
RATING: PG-13 (crude and sexual content, and for language, including a drug reference)
CREDITS: Directed by Brad Silberling, written by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
WEB SITE: http://www.landofthelost.net/
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS