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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Life + Arts

Lost’ loses plot, point

Land of the Lost is about two scientists of questionable academic legitimacy, a stoner tour guide and a libidinous ‘missing link’ primate who discover and explore a Salvador Dali-inspired wilderness filled with the flotsam and jetsam of various cultures across time and space.

In fact, the audience is reminded every two or three scenes, lest they forget amid the bathroom humor, sexual harassment posing as hilarity, and endless scenes of muttering and slapstick that this movie does purport to have a plot.

Lost might as well not have a plot. The movie drags in its best moments, but nowhere more so than when ‘science’ and other narrative devices must be dealt with, usually in obligatory fashion. The events of the tale serve as thematic shoehorns, shoving the actors into an (seemingly) endless series of two or three-minute-long sketches which are unquestionably amusing, but better suited to a forum like Saturday Night Live or Ferrell’s comedy Website Funny or Die.

Ultimately, the eclectic landscape, a sort of inter-dimensional middle ground that is neither past nor present and is littered with half-buried statues of Big Boy, Viking sailing vessels and an unfortunate ice cream truck, serves as a perfect metaphor for the comedic space the film inhabits.

The frequent sex jokes reference both spoken and visual masturbation, and a scene involving aliens progressing from making out to full-on extraterrestrial intercourse, along with perhaps the most gratuitous use of the F-bomb in cinematic history, prevent the movie from being categorized in childrens’ or family movies.

Additionally, the bathroom humor is too pervasive for the movie to genuinely appeal to anyone with an eighth-grade education, though the sight of Will Ferrell dousing himself in dinosaur urine, then running through his by-now-famous ‘I immediately regret that decision’ routine is, shamefully, enough to make this reviewer laugh.

Ferrell, one of the original and most notable members of what USA Today dubbed the ‘Frat Pack,’ seems to gleefully inhabit this space virtually every time he’s confronted with a movie camera and probably many times when he isn’t.

Audiences are either forced to embrace their inner junior-high-school boy or miss out on understanding his popularity and cultural significance. It’s no coincidence that as many sociologists lament the prevalence of extended adolescence in Western culture, Ferrell has become comedy’s reigning it-man.

Anna Friel is attractive and magnetic, though watching her character get molested half a dozen times can inspire squirms. Tour guide Danny McBride has a smattering of hilarious one-liners amid a great deal of drivel, though he comes off seeming like a Ferrell acolyte.

This movie is unlikely to be remembered as one of his better ones, or as one of his worst, or really at all. Featuring physical sets that are too bizarre to ring true and too cartoonish to inspire awe, jokes that vacillate violently between too juvenile for adults and too adult for juveniles and a throwaway plot that might as well not exist, Lost does not make much of an impression.

In the end, this movie is mediocre and no one will suffer for avoiding it, though many likely will from seeing it.

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