For the majority of Adam Sandler’s career, Dennis Dugan has been his right-hand man when it comes to making movies. Dugan’s directed the star in Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, and the this week’s Grown Ups. Not only does he have a good rapport with Sandler, but he’s established relationships with plenty of the film’s other co-stars including David Spade, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider.
Because of his professional and personal connection with the actors, he was able to wrangle them up into one comedy ensemble. Grown Ups centers on a group of 40-somethings who reunite after the death of their middle school basketball coach. While spending the holiday weekend together they reminisce about old times, reconnect with each other, and also their families. When I spoke to Dugan in a one on one interview he revealed how the film came about and how the shoot was both fun and terrifying all at the same time…
Adam Sandler co-wrote the script for Grown Ups and personally pitched it to Dugan in his own laidback, unconventional way.
Dugan: So one day, Sandler walks in, sits down and he says, “Got an idea for a movie.” I said what? He goes “It’s called Grown Ups and it’s all of us. We’ll shoot at a Lake House, all of us will get together so everyone will bring their families and we’ll just shoot our own “reunion” movie.” And I go, “That sounds great” He goes, “Yeah. We’ll get Kevin then we’ll get Rock and then we’ll get Spade and Schneider and you’ll direct it and we’ll do it.”
With the whole gang together, you’d think the filming process would be a hilarious cakewalk for Dugan but that wasn’t the case.
Dugan: Well here’s the thing, we had just done Don’t Mess With The Zohan and Zohan was 97 days of shooting. We shot in New York, Los Angeles, and Cabo. I went three times to Tel Aviv. I thought this was going to be my reward, like and easy reward. It’s five guys, they’re sitting around in chairs and being funny. And then there’s the dinner scene and I remember saying, “This is going to be easy, this is going to be my reward for working so hard.” Then I realized suddenly that there are 18 principle characters in it so when you shoot it, you have to shoot shots of all of them, every time. Children, people, dogs, jokes, here, there, boom, ding, it was brutal.
With so many characters involved, Dugan had to make sure that everyone got a decent amount of material and screen time without overcrowding the film with unnecessary bits.
Dugan: I think the magic behind it is, we always shoot way more than we ever use and in this case the editors assembly, [the whole thing put together before they edit it], was 192 minutes which is three hours and 12 minutes and we cut it down to 96 minutes. So you have a wealth of material. There are ten jokes for every joke that’s in there. You have the ability to pretty much do anything you want and in the end it all worked out and I think everybody got their fair share.
A lot of that extra footage came from the 5 main actors, Sandler, Rock, James, Spade, and Schneider who would literally sit around and adlib dialogue for 30 plus minutes.
Dugan: We’d go 40 minutes without cutting. We’d just do it and they would just start wandering off and talking and stuff and we would just keep filming it and then run around and try to get three cameras on them at all times so we could get everything.
Because so much material was left on the cutting room floor, the Grown Ups DVD will be packed with extras including an entire skit with Norm McDonald, Gary Busey, and a monkey!
Dugan: A lot of extra stuff, there’s tons of stuff. I mean there’s a whole two sequences with Gary Busey that aren’t even in the movie. Gary Busey had a monkey. Gary and that monkey are fucking hilarious.
Grown Ups hits theaters on Friday June 25, 2010.
Are you interested in seeing Growns Ups this weekend?