June 5, 2009 at 1:00 am

Tom Long: Film Review: 'Land of the Lost' -- GRADE: D

Will Ferrell hits an all-time low with lame 'Land of the Lost'

Will Ferrell hardly tries as has-been scientist Dr. Rick Marshall in the lazy and unfunny "Land of the Lost." (Universal Pictures)

When it comes to movies, there's good stupid and there's just plain stupid.

"Land of the Lost" is just plain stupid, and that's not good.

A good stupid movie -- witness this week's "The Hangover" -- capitalizes on common human foible and frailty by overblowing characters and situations, making the dumb even dumber in a smart way. It's all silly, but there's enough recognizable truth in it for things to work.

Just plain stupid either takes things too far or takes them there in an unfunny, clichéd, lazy way.

Putting Will Ferrell's standard comic character in a land of dinosaurs and aliens is taking things too far. Having that character run around saying the same sorts of things he's said in other films -- and said much better -- is extraordinarily lazy.

And talk about clichés. This movie has your standard stoner scene, your standard big-poop joke, your standard homophobe moments, your basic ancillary hot chick as romantic interest, your basic dumb bunny sidekick. The list goes on.

True, in a better film this might all be a satire of these clichés. But this isn't a better film.

The great excuse here is the audience is supposed to embrace the cheesiness of the entire concept. Based on a near-forgotten low-fi TV show, the movie pushes its bad special effects and downright terrible costumes at the viewer as part of the joke.

So what? The humor in that lasts about three seconds. After which, you're stuck watching a cliché-ridden, bad special-effects riddled, lazy, just plain stupid movie that's not only not worth your money but certainly not worth your time.

Other than that, great flick.

Ferrell stars as Dr. Rick Marshall, a scientist with crackpot theories about time travel and other dimensions whose ideas have made him an outcast. His career is in the pits -- literally, he works at the La Brea Tar Pits -- when another scientist, Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel), shows up to proclaim her love for his wacky ideas and offer proof that they're not so wacky.

Soon enough the two are off to an empty desert amusement park run by oddball, redneck dreamer Will Stanton (Danny McBride). Holly thinks a gizmo invented by Marshall will be able to transport them to another dimension from this place. And it does, dragging Stanton along with them.

Suddenly, they're in a land that has dinosaurs and some sort of monkey race and aliens. All of which may have seemed fairly imaginative if taken semi-seriously by the original TV series. But here it just offers Ferrell a chance to pour dino urine over his head.

Ha-ha! That's funny!

No, it's not; it's Ferrell burning up most of the goodwill he earned in his early career.

In a movie such as "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," Ferrell used his clueless persona as commentary on mass media, on the '70s, on sexism in the workplace and macho self-preoccupation.

In "Land of the Lost," he's simply pouring dino urine over his head.

No one's saying Ferrell should take on "Hamlet." But it's obvious comedy comes too easy to this guy. He's funny without even trying, so apparently he doesn't try, and then the results aren't so funny.

"Land of the Lost" isn't just plain stupid, it's pretty much an insult to Ferrell's fans. If he keeps this up, his career may become as extinct as dinourine.

tlong@detnews.com">tlong@detnews.com (313) 222-8879