Weekend Forecast for June 5-7, 2009

By Reagen Sulewski

June 5, 2009

It's a good thing that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

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It's comedy weekend at the movies, as three new films test what has suddenly turned into an uncertain summer marketplace.

Leading the way – it hopes – is Land of the Lost, the Will Ferrell-led adaptation of the 1970s children's adventure series from Sid and Marty Kroft. Ferrell stars as a park ranger/amateur physicist (possibly throwing under Denise Richards for "least believable scientist in a film") whose research accidentally sends him, his research assistant (Anna Friel) and a survivalist (Danny McBride) backwards... forwards? ... somewhere, in time and space, where they'll have to survive dinosaurs, weird little alien things and all manner of dangers in order to try and get back home.

As a mostly family-friendly action adventure film (Brendan Fraser is kicking himself over missing this one), Land of the Lost straddles a few weird demographics – Will Ferrell fans, nostalgic boomers, and bodily fluid-joke loving pre-teens (OK, there's some overlap there).

In a lot of ways, it feels like a misstep, in that those that were fans of the series either have outgrown it, or wouldn't care to see Ferrell crap all over it in the way he seems to be doing here. As Ferrell attempts to inherit the reins as Top Film Comedian from Adam Sandler, he's proven to be not entirely bullet-proof – Semi-Pro was a swing and a miss, and Blades of Glory showed that even when he was on his game, his fans weren't willing to follow him just anywhere. The action elements of Land of the Lost should be enough to make up for the film's apparent shortcomings in humor, but this definitely has "summer disappointment" written all over it. Then again, You Don't Mess With the Zohan was a hit, and that looked even worse than this. Watch it open to $38 million this weekend.


The second new comedy out there has a lower profile cast, but potentially a much higher ceiling. The Hangover stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis in a story of a bachelor party in Vegas gone wrong. Directed by Todd Phillips of Old School, it's very much in that vein of comedy, of random hijinks and a celebration of crazy, borderline anti-social behavior.

In the film, the three friends wake up from a night in Vegas only to discover that their man of honor, the future groom that they were showing a good last time to, is missing. Only pieces of info are available to them about what happened, and even those don't make much sense.

A semi-tribute to the free-for-all attitude of Sin City, The Hangover is selling itself with the same "anything can happen" mentality that the city itself does. Mixing a tiger, hookers, tasers, Mike Tyson and a baby seems like the setup to either a tragedy or a comedy, and it's that knife's edge that the film seems to hope to live on. The trio of leads seem to work best, though Helms and Galifiankis make a lot more impact than Cooper, which has probably got to worry him some.

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