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Cinema Signal: Likeable only to the director and producer's mothers and the genetically undiscerning.

Sing Like an American Idol, Women's Edition
Everything You Need to Sing the Hits!

(Discounted Paperback (with CD) from Amazon)
. "Land of the Lost"

The quality of the writing in this Will Ferrill starrer can only be described as puerile, inept, juvenile, hopeless, clumsy, unskilled, absurd, artless, illogical, meaningless, pointless, pitiable and hopeless. It's defiant against all norms of conduct and adult behavior, tasteless, unfunny, improper, crude, cheap, coarse and, at times, distasteful and dumbshit. It comes off as a very lame Saturday Night Live skit, awkwardly looking for the laugh.

My involvement in it, if you can call it that, was to feel bad for the efforts Anna Friel and Danny McBride were making to go along as best they could with the stylistic funnyman leading the hapless charge. I've never said this before about any well-established actor, but Will Ferrell stunk. Get another style.

The metaphor is the sci-fi fantasy, with Dr. Rick Marshall (Ferrell) being branded as a scientific fraud on TV by no less than interviewer-host Matt Lauer. You know, the real-life guy who asks questions of the president of the United States, various members of royalty, government, big business and other significant players in the news. He just doesn't buy into Rick's tele-transport machine as anything more than a collection of hardware with wires.

But to Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel, "Niagara Motel"), an unquestioning fan of the visionary Rick, his machine is everything he ever thought it was. She's so breathless about it (while also being rather sexy), she revives the preposterous notion that it can indeed lead them to dimensions unknown. All they need is to find a hot "door" to space-time.

They drive. When they find one of those desert amusement stops they sense they've arrived and, in the site's cave with river, start the machine which, of course, tumbles them and the redneck operator Will Stanton (Danny McBride) into an alternate universe. This is indicated by various flotsam from our own universe strewn across a sandy desert floor, by a small gang of humanoid primates who bear them ill will, lizards that control armies of like-minded scaly creatures, and a huge Tyrannasaurus Rex with very bad breathe and a worse disposition.

In a tussle with the humanoid primates, they rescue Chaka (Jorma Taccone), the tribe's young prince. Upon realizing that he's not to be put to death, he registers his good will and general character level by reaching up for Holly's boobs, which he pretty much takes as his for the feeling.

The rest is dim-witted nonsense that is no more engaging than it is clever. Friel survives the script's dull search for a laugh at the lowest levels and retains her charming dignity. McBride doesn't go for the stupid survivalist imagery so much and similarly comes out with a dash of respect. Taccone simply has no acting chops to be anything but a weak story device. As for Ferrell, everything that needs to be said has been.

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Expense was not spared on the production side as the digital effects are top-notch, most evident in the creature creations. Mr. T. Rex is raging perfection, so the CG team comes out of this as the only ones who didn't lose their way.

The guilty ones are those who put together such narrative nonsense, looking for a boxoffice buck by trolling the shallowest child and lowbrow regions for some boxoffice love. They'll no doubt find it because crowds of the undiscerning need a film feeding suited to their taste level just like any other movie-lover. Director Brad Silberberg, with a credit like "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" of 2004, should have known better than to go with this draft by TV writers Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas, a "Saturday Night Live" shtick-meister. That element of the scenario certainly shows and that's where the revenues will be found.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


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Will Ferrell, Anna Friel and Danny McBride
In a SNL skit on steroids.

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