The critics (except Roger Ebert) can suck it ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The critics (except Roger Ebert) can suck it

Land of the Lost
My rating:

This movie has been getting some of the worst reviews of Will Ferrell's career. Not only did it earn 28% on RottenTomatoes and 32 on Metacritic - and most likely a spot on many critics' worst-of-the-year lists - it was one of the first major flops of the summer. But amidst all the hate, the lone voice of Roger Ebert emerged to give it a 3-star review. I read that review and, reminded of my ability to find the vibe that allowed me to enjoy Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, went into this movie somewhat encouraged.

Roger Ebert is a smart man.

Dr. Rick Marshall's (Will Ferrell) career has been in the pits since his theory of time warps got him laughed out of the scientific community. However, a visit by English physicist Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel), the only person who believes in him, motivates him to finish building his tachyon amplifier device. When they take it on a field test to a tacky roadside attraction run by Will (Danny McBride), all three end up travelling through a time warp to a parallel dimension - the Land of the Lost. There they befriend an ape-boy named Chaka (Jorma Taccone), run afoul of a grumpy T-Rex named Grumpy, encounter the reptilian Sleestaks, and must recover the thingamadoodad that will allow them to return home.

I am not a fan of Will Ferrell. He basically plays the same blowhard moron character in every movie, and he's no different here. How much you'll enjoy the movie will depend a great deal on how much you like him - or, like me, how much you enjoy sci-fi/fantasy adventure. Because this movie works as an adventure story - albeit a purely goofy one - as much as it does a comedy. It reminds me a lot of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs actually, and not just because of the T-Rex and the "lost world" milieu.

For one thing, the comedy isn't always funny. The dialogue feels like Ferrell and McBride improvised a lot of it, and they don't always come up with zingers - the scene where they get drunk on funky fruit juice is not a gutbuster, despite the movie thinking it is. For another, there's no attempt to create deeper characters besides blowhard moron Marshall and blowhard moron Will - you can have character development in a goofy comedy without detracting from the laughs, and this movie is kinda lazy for not even trying.

But every time you're about to get bored with Ferrell's mugging, the plot moves on to the next complication. It's really quite a well-executed story; it's not fresh or even smart, but it moves at a good pace that never loses our attention. And just like Ice Age 3, it earns our goodwill with a rousing ending in which our heroes perform some effectively awesome heroics. The T-Rex is pretty well done, although the Sleestaks look pretty fake - but they're supposed to look fake. The whole movie is meant to be one big goof, with logic and common sense and finger-quote "realism" checked at the door. And judging from the reaction of the audience I was in, I'm sure most Malaysians will have no problem seeing it for what it is.

Ferrell and McBride do their usual things; although the only other movie I've seen with McBride is Tropic Thunder, he seems to be following Ferrell's footsteps as a one-note comic actor. At least he avoids being annoying. Taccone's avoidance of being not-annoying is more impressive, considering the fact that there's a running joke of him groping Holly's breasts. Anna Friel is cute, but she has the doubly thankless role of straight woman to two funny men, as well as designated T&A in a movie with the sexual maturity of a 15-year-old boy. A more experienced comedienne would've done something more with the role - but at least she's cute.

There's a scene in which someone gets eaten alive by dinosaurs; although it doesn't show any blood and gore, it's still an unnecessarily jarring bit in such a good-natured comedy. But that's its only real major misstep. It's really no worse than the average Will Ferrell comedy, and I don't see why it deserves being teared into by critics. I had fun, and I had a few good belly-laughs, especially at a poop joke toward the end that I saw coming a good 5 seconds before the rest of the audience. A movie that makes me feel superior to everyone around me - how could I not like it?

Anticipation level: perversely looking forward to it. Yeah, I'm a pervert


chicnchomel said...

Do you review pirated movie??

TMBF said...

You mean DVDs izzit? Yes, I might review something I caught on DVD.

chicnchomel said...

you should try 'the hangover'. it's only available at the friendly neighbourhood pirated dvd shops near you