Why the new Land of the Lost may not be for the youngest kids

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Brad Silberling, who directed the comedy movie update of the classic '70s children's TV show Land of the Lost, told reporters that parents will have to decide whether their kids can handle the film: With a PG-13 rating, the movie features intense dinosaur action and raunchy humor courtesy of stars Will Ferrell and Danny McBride.

That would be a departure from the family-oriented and innocent, if trippy, original series, from Sid and Marty Krofft.

"Innuendo seems to fly over kids' heads," Silberling said in a group interview on Friday in Hollywood. "I think more about kids' not getting traumatized because one of the things we were excited about was really committing to the photo-realism of these dinosaurs and the action. So I think it's probably up to the parents."

Silberling said his own 8-year-old daughter won't be seeing the film, but that his 4-year-old son tagged along while the director was doing visual effects. "Both were fascinated by Grumpy [the Tyrannosaurus rex] but also would just hit the deck anytime he really came at the camera," Silberling said. "We set out to make a PG-13 movie, and it was decidedly PG-13. That was there in the script, and it was certainly there at the end."

The film is being marketed at a PG-13-appropriate audience, Silberling added. "They've been very shrewd about that, not going suddenly on Cartoon Network and selling and not going on Nickelodeon and suddenly trying to have your cake and eat it, too, where you're trying to say, 'Oooh, well, they're dinosaurs, but don't you young people come,' which is disingenuous," he said.

For his part, Ferrell said he aimed his jokes at teenagers. "We obviously didn't want it to be kind of a Disney film," Ferrell said in a separate interview. "We wanted the humor to be cool and kind of pushing that PG-13 or fulfilling that PG-13 thing, but kids are pretty sophisticated. Probably a sophisticated 11-year-old, 10-year-old [could see it.] That's when I'm proud about this movie in the sense that it is a more family [-oriented] movie than I've done in a while, and yet I feel like it's still got some original, sophisticated jokes that you're not going to find in a movie in a similar kind of vein."

Silberling added that jokes about masturbation and Chaka's groping Holly (Anna Friel) represent how those who grew up on Land of the Lost might reflect on their childhood memories. "Just honest behavior and unexpected behavior and a lot of it coming from, I would say, sort of emotional memory," Silberling said. "Chaka kind of creeped me out. He really did. Everybody was a little creeped out by Chaka. So the part that seemed either a little sketchy or untrustworthy or a little bit repulsive, we thought, 'Well, then why not have them actually act that way? Because that's what we remember, and it's not going to be what you expect.' I think that was it. It was just to not get too earnest and to have the characters keep surprising each other and the audience's expectations. So it kind of came from that, even down to Chaka, in a moment of celebration, basically getting the guys just wasted. It just seemed like the perfectly wrong thing for him to do."

Though the film is not a satire of the original Land of the Lost, McBride approached the comedy from a rebellious place, compared to the usual mainstream summer movie. "There is definitely a subversive nature to it," McBride said in a separate interview. "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, OK, I don't know if I'd really want my kid watching that.' But what I liked about this film was that it was unexpected. It takes some turns that you don't expect, with the tone and even with some of the comedy. When you see that the special effects are done for real, and it's not like the old TV show, I think it's definitely unexpected where it goes, tone-wise. I think it's cool."

According to Silberling, Land of the Lost faced no struggle with the ratings board. It was PG-13 on the first pass. "The interesting thing was we took the film, well before it was finished, to the ratings board, and we got our PG-13," Silberling said. "I think there were just a couple things for us that we thought 'We don't need to go there,' and yet, if we had, it still would have been [PG-13.] At the movie's most extreme, we got a PG-13. I may, down the line, just for sheer enjoyment, try to put together more of an extended director's cut, just because the movie goes so many places and we tried to strike the balance that we did, but there are certainly things that I left behind that I did love."

On the set, however, McBride admitted he had to censor himself to avoid full-on R-rated language. "There were a lot of those, where I'd just be like, 'Oh, I want to say, "F--k you' so bad, and I can't say it,'" McBride said. "There was a great rape joke that didn't make it. Anna [Friel] was translating Chaka, and, when she was translating what he was saying, she was like, 'I think he's raped an apple,' and raping apples is not cool. That would turn people off. So Chaka doesn't rape an apple in the movie anymore. But zombie d--k is totally cool."

Land of the Lost opens Friday.