Family Filmgoer: Reviews of 'Land of the Lost,' 'Up,' 'My Life in Ruins'

Jorma Taccone plays furry man Chaka in
Jorma Taccone plays furry man Chaka in "Land of the Lost." (Universal Pictures)
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By Jane Horwitz
Friday, June 5, 2009

Land of the Lost (PG-13, 93 minutes)

Though full of clever, if obvious, visual jokes and cast with comically gifted stars, "Land of the Lost" still manages to be a bit of a bore. Teenage fans of Will Ferrell may be tickled by it, but only intermittently. Based on the 1970s Saturday morning TV series, it follows the misadventures of crackpot scientist Rick Marshall (Ferrell). Rick is a joke among his peers and is shamed by Matt Lauer while appearing on the "Today" show.

Depressed and working as an elementary-school science teacher, Rick is visited by a British scholar, Holly (Anna Friel), who believes in his work. She wants him to try his invention, which will supposedly allow them to "travel sideways in time." While going through a desert cave tourist attraction, guided by a loudmouth named Will (Danny McBride), they set off the "amplifier." The three land in a desert where all human civilization seems to drop in: a Viking ship, an ice cream truck, big American convertibles. The trio also encounters a drooling T. rex and a furry man named Chaka (Jorma Taccone). Trying to figure out where they are and how to get home, Rick, Will and Holly meet the lizard-man Enik (John Boylan) and his archenemy, the Zarn (Leonard Nimoy's voice).

There is sexual innuendo, toilet humor, midrange profanity and comedic mayhem, including an exploding dinosaur. There are swarming bugs, and a huge blood-sucking mosquito that gets squished. The men drink a hallucinogenic beverage, and there is much gay humor and implied toplessness. "Land of the Lost" is not really appropriate for grade-schoolers because of the sexual content.

Also Playing

6 and Older

"Up" (PG). "Up" is a near-total delight, despite its too-complicated second half. This imaginative Pixar animated film tells the tale of a boy, Russell (voice of Jordan Nagai), and widower, Carl (Ed Asner), who go on a journey to South America in a balloon-propelled house and forge a deep friendship. Kids younger than 6 may fidget or get confused during flashbacks about losing a loved one. There are genuinely scary scenes, too, in which dogs chase Carl and Russell. A crazed explorer (Christopher Plummer) goes after them. After his wife dies, Carl rigs his old house with balloons and floats away, only to discover Russell clinging to the porch. Russell helps Carl steer his house to Paradise Falls in South America. Once there, the mad explorer's trained dogs come after them.

"Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (PG). This lively yet charmless sequel to "Night at the Museum" (PG, 2006) will keep kids 6 and older engaged, if not in stitches. Despite its deliberately scrambled facts, the film could spark kids' interest in everything from aviation history to art. The littlest ones may briefly cower at a roaring T. rex skeleton, a giant squid, Egyptian warriors, the Lincoln Memorial coming to life or planes zooming around the Air and Space Museum. Guns, swords and clubs are wielded, but no one gets hurt. Larry (Ben Stiller), the nighttime guard from the New York museum in the first film, discovers that the old exhibits are being sent to the Smithsonian. He gets a tip that the ancient pharaoh Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) is wreaking havoc, and he and a spunky Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) save the day on the Mall.

PG-13

"My Life in Ruins." So predictable is this lame romantic comedy, you can almost say the lines with the actors. A lonely Greek American tour guide named Georgia (Nia Vardalos), who's also a classics professor, leads a group of crass Americans through the historic sites of her ancestral homeland. Only Richard Dreyfuss brings a bit of freshness to his role as a widower who helps Georgia with her charges. Of course scruffy driver (Alexis Georgoulis) of the rattletrap tour bus will turn out to be Mr. Right. Vardalos wrote and starred in the fun "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (PG, 2002), but this tired concoction, written by another, is an unworthy follow-up. Implied sexual situations, much sexual innuendo, occasional sexual slang, rare profanity and drinking. More for high-schoolers.

"Easy Virtue." The casting of Jessica Biel damages this movie but doesn't wreck it. That she is surrounded by terrific British actors just calls attention to her ponderous way. Set in pre-World War II England and based on a 1925 Noel Coward play, the movie is still amusing, but disappointing. Biel plays Larita, a free-spirited American who drives race cars. When she marries John Whittaker (Ben Barnes), his iron-willed mum (Kristin Scott Thomas) is furious and makes Larita's life miserable. Only John's eccentric father (Colin Firth) seems to understand Larita. There is mild sexual innuendo, a subtly implied sexual situation, brief semi-nudity, drinking, smoking and the accidental off-camera death of a pet dog. For sophisticated teens.

R

"The Hangover." A frat comedy for grown-ups that will also attract teens, this movie is very funny, but too crude for most kids younger than 17. Phil (Bradley Cooper), a teacher, Stu (Ed Helms), a dentist, and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), a classic jerk, bachelor-party so hard in Las Vegas that they wake up to realize they've lost Doug (Justin Bartha), the groom. They discover a baby in their trashed hotel suite and Mike Tyson's pet tiger. The movie is about the guys retracing their steps. It features very strong profanity, rear-view nudity and toplessness, crude sexual language and innuendo, implied sexual situations, homophobic slurs, gross toilet humor, drug humor and a poor joke about a grandmother's "Holocaust ring."


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