Two Nights of Will Ferrell: Land of the Lost & Man Vs Wild

By Johnna Rizzo

“Land of the Lost” is Will Ferrell playing Will Ferrell once again, only this time he’s hamming it up as scientist Dr. Rick Marshall, a blowhard “quantum paleontologist” who, via his invention (and urged on by a Matt Lauer-inflicted public humiliation), lands himself, his research assistant Holly (played by “Pushing Daisy’s” adorable Anna Friel), and an unsuspecting trailer park resident Will (Danny McBride, playing the usual Danny McBride character) in a sort of cosmic wormhole where all moments of time—past and present and future, including dinosaurs, Buddha statues, 1950’s motels, Cessnas, Viking ships, and spacemen—mesh and mash up. A veritable “Land of the Lost.”

Of course, children of the early 70s will recognize the new take on the kitschy, trippy TV show created by Sid and Marty Krofft that ran from ’74-76, affectionately remembered for its extremely low-tech special effects wizardry. And the movie’s best part is its nostalgia. High points are its lovingly loyal incarnation of the Sleestak—a ridiculously slow-moving combo of little green alien and upright-walking lizard that doesn’t try too hard to be 21st century (the digital T-Rex Grumpy fares much less well), and a Leonard Nimoy-voiced latex-scale-coated, would-be-world-savior Zarn.

Much more fascinating—and far funnier because of its juxtaposition with actual survival reality and the very real potential for danger—is Ferrell’s publicity stunt hour on Discovery Channel’s “Man Vs. Wild” that ran on June 2 (and being rerun in perpetuity!). Ferrell holds his own alongside the dashing and daredevil Bear Grylls, downing roasted reindeer eye, not-so-sneakily scarfing the sole emergency energy Twinkie, fashioning makeshift snowshoes out of birch branches, and less-than-skillfully shimmying up a ladder extended from a hovering helicopter. The pratfalls here are real, as are the bleeped-out words when Bear falls over the side of a 100-foot cliff, and this toned-down, laughtrack-less Farrell is far more nuanced and fresh—and surprisingly funnier in his honesty—the kind of television you put down the popcorn for so you don’t miss a second.

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