I understand perfectly well the heart-clutching horror of watching a timeless classic be turned into a horrible movie. All the depth, plot and character richness that went into years of a book, TV show, comic book series or even another movie can be cruelly eviscerated before our very eyes. Friends may watch on and laugh feebly at the crude jokes (which the source material never would have stopped to) and superfluous HD action shots which detract from the meaning the lower-budget prequel held so dearly, but it is a sad loss to society for us.
To name the biggest, this year I count Watchmen, Wolverine, Transformers, Harry Potter, Twilight, and an Early 70’s TV series about a clustered dimension filled with oddies from every place in time and space: Land of the Lost. I have seen it and have become a changed man.
It was cheesier than SNL before the 2008 Elections. And I’m willing to stake my Journalist’s License (a figurative badge of legitimacy that all reporters hold close to their hearts and next to their breast-pocket ballpoint pens) in saying that the original show had fewer dirty gags. Most of it was meant to be ridiculous– a main character is an australopithecus who only the team’s all-around scientist can understand– so no legitimacy was lost in letting Will Farrell make friends with an Allosaurus.
So why would I dream of supporting something so degrading to the classics? Two reasons:
1) I’ve watched some Land of the Lost (1971-76) myself, and it really isn’t that good. Some classics almost don’t deserve defending. I will defend David Carradine’s “Kung Fu” and scrutinize any future attempt to Hollywood-ize his work. But the show was choppy, badly-animated, unrealistic even for something about anything-can-happen pocket dimension, and tragically not amusing.
And in this case, I hold it responsible for the advent of special-effects-y, ridiculously-energetic kids’ programs. No show before their time would have made an allosaurus (puppet) that wants to eat them in virtually every episode. So when I saw this overstuffed children’s classic brought to the funeral pyre of Modern Cinema, I shed no tears of sympathy for it.
2) I hate to be the one to confess this, but if there hadn’t been a movie about it this decade, I never would’ve looked for the original.Novel-based movies such as Watchmen and I, Robot have had that effect on me, and both come from simply awesome fields of literature. I investigated The Da Vinci Code after its movie release. I learned the Yo Ho Yo Ho song long after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean. So much cultural richness can come from nostalgia (especially if you weren’t born yet when it was popular), and unless you actually think your parents are cool, you might never stumble across it without a movie version.
But now, I must forever live with the sad mantle of “being the expert.” Knowing that the original was supposed to be about a family on vacation who fell down a dimensional well for absolutely no reason. Not, repeat, not a misunderstood lunatic scientist, his No. 1 fan, and a pervy rocker running an amusement park in the desert! Numerous other things never happened which I won’t spoil, though I suppose every director gets a creative license which supercedes that Journalist’s License of mine. Unnecessary sleaze aside, there is ONE betrayal of the show that I cannot take without standing against it and inserting an exclamation point:
Cha-ka the Paku monkey-boy never had a harem of 7000 topless, non-hairy ladies!
(End SPOILER ALERT)
If the raunchiness drizzled thickly over a children’s considerably-better-budgeted classic doesn’t bother you, by all means, see it. Some bits were a bit gratuitous (‘Sweet Mother of… are they really going to go there in this scene?’), but I guiltily deem it hilarious.