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In 1974, there was nothing like it: a live-action Saturday morning show about three adventurers who get stuck in a bizarre world of dinosaurs, psychedelic plotlines and walking lizard creatures called Sleestaks. Kids didn’t care that the low-budget special effects made all of it appear highly artificial — at the time the show was about as high-tech as morning TV could be, and “Land of the Lost” became a phenomenon.
Fast-forward more than 30 years — the task facing Will Ferrell and filmmakers, as they geared up for a big-budget “LOTL” reboot, was how to update the story and special-effects wizardry while still staying true to the cheesetastic original.
“It needed to have the key features of the show,” Ferrell told MTV News. “The Sleestaks, the dinosaurs, the world that is kind of reminiscent. But at that same time we wanted to get away from the kitsch value and make the action and adventure part look real and then have the comedy play off that.”
They kept the beloved theme song (“On a routine expedition …” ), but instead of only three Sleestaks (the ’70s show could afford just three latex suits), the world in which Ferrell and his fellow adventurers find themselves will be populated with all manner of frightening creatures.
“We decided — let’s not make the dinosaurs cute,” director Brad Silberling explained. “Let’s make them lethal so that when you put the wrong people in the situation making really stupid decisions it’d be really funny.
“It’s an out-and-out comedy — at times psychedelic,” he added. “It’s a real comedy adventure.”
Aside from the vast increases in budget and CGI gadgetry, the biggest changes took place in the relationships between the three main characters. In the new version, Ferrell plays Rick Marshall, a celebrity paleontologist who is ostracized from the scientific community for his wild theories about time travel. Holly (Anna Friel) is no longer his daughter but a woman who convinces Marshall to keep pursuing his research. And Will (Danny McBride) has shifted from being Rick’s son to being a scummy survivalist who gets pulled along for the ride.
“Unfortunately, in the movie I’m not a teen heartthrob,” McBride confessed. “I’m a gas-station owner.”
For all the changes that took place, however, there was still an emphasis on honoring the original, which was created by children’s-entertainment dynamos Sid and Marty Krofft. Both Ferrell and Silberling were hard-core “LOTL” fans growing up.
“I loved it,” Ferrell said. “I would get nervous every Saturday morning to watch it because it was the coolest show.”
The summer movie season is filled with reboots, from “Terminator Salvation” to “Star Trek.” But those properties have far greater name recognition among the younger generation of moviegoers than “Land of the Lost.” If the show is known at all, it’s probably as a result of all those cheesy clips on YouTube.
But this is a Will Ferrell vehicle, and Danny McBride might soon become a household name — they’re not worried about finding a niche for their fantasy/comedy hybrid on the blockbuster summer movie calendar. Well, maybe a little.
“Supremely confident that the movie will be in theaters that sell popcorn and sugary drinks!” Ferrell exclaimed.
“Big time!” added McBride. “Top that, other summer movies!”
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Check out everything we’ve got on “Land of the Lost.”
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