Danny McBride © Universal Pictures

On the 1974 TV series Land of the Lost, the character of Will was the young son of Dr Rick Marshall. In the new movie he has morphed into Will Stanton, the redneck manager of a cheesy amusement park called Devil’s Canyon Mystery Cave. He’s portrayed by Danny McBride, whose career sky-rocketed last year with such blockbusters Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express.

Stanton’s ludicrous cave ride is the portal that takes him, Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) and Marshall’s assistant Holly (Anna Friel) into the Land of the Lost where they encounter strange slowly-moving creatures, the Sleestaks, and an ape-boy named Chaka. I spoke with Danny McBride at the press comference for the movie at the Hollywood Palladium.

Did you know the TV series?

Danny McBride © Universal Pictures
Danny McBride © Universal Pictures

I did know it. I had seen the show when I was a kid, and was definitely freaked out by it, but found myself watching it whenever I could.

What freaked you out?

Chaka’s brow freaked me out a little bit, and the Sleestaks. It’s funny because I had forgotten about the Sleestaks, and when I first came to the set and all those Sleestaks were there, seeing them brought back all these primitive fears in me that I had when I was a kid. I was like, ‘Oh, I hated these guys, and now I have to act with them.’

Did you get to improv a lot in this?

Yeah. One of the things that initially attracted me to this was doing a comedy that would be mixed with all the special effects of this scope. I’m not used to really seeing a comedy on this scope. I just wanted to see what I’d look like standing next to a T-Rex, to tell you the truth. That was really what it came down to. People don’t get that chance. They’re not alive anymore; a lot of people don’t know that.

Danny McBride, Will Ferrell and Anna Friel © Universal Pictures
Danny McBride, Will Ferrell and Anna Friel © Universal Pictures

Anna Friel said that you teased her with a lot of British jokes.

I did. She was one of the first real British people I’ve ever met before. I thought they just existed in history books, but no, they’re real. [he laughs] They walk amongst us.

Was there anything you were surprised to learn about British people?

She introduced Will and I to all these weird things, like Ribena, this weird little red thing that she would put into her water. No, I had met British people before, just none as beautiful as Anna Friel.

What would you say is the tone of this humor? This film is PG-13, but kids are going to want to see it and it rides an edge.

It definitely does. There is definitely a subversive nature to it. On face value, you’d think it would be something just for kids, but it’s pretty racy. There’s stuff in there where you’re like, “Oh, okay, I don’t know if I’d really want my kid watching that.” But, what I liked about this film was that it takes some turns that you don’t expect, with the tone and even with some of the comedy. I think it’s cool.

Knowing the Land of the Lost tv show, were you surprised that this film wasn’t more of a spoof?

Danny McBrid © Universal Pictures
Danny McBrid and Will Ferrell © Universal Pictures

The first thing I thought was, “What are the special effects going to be like? Are they going to be like the special effects in the TV show, or are you going to go for it?” When they said they were going to go for it, I was like, “Oh, that’s probably an interesting choice.” It seems like it would be a cheap joke, just to go with the toy dinosaur. I don’t know if that would hold my attention for an hour and a half. There’s the purists who I always read about, that are like, “I can’t believe you’re raping my childhood.” If Land of the Lost is your childhood and we’re raping it, I apologize. [he laughs] I think the show is awesome, and I think we keep the mythology intact without taking it too seriously. If it was taken too seriously, it’s just Jurassic Park. We’ve seen that movie before.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.