If you were casting a film about the thirty year reunion of a junior high championship basketball team, pulling together Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James and Rob Schneider as your cast would be a pretty solid step. Aside from their shared history in real life, their mutual love of basketball would seem to seal the deal. If you were Adam Sandler himself and wrote the movie, you would make some calls to some friends and a few months later, you'd be sitting down with those friends and Buzzine's Izumi Hasegawa to discuss your new movie Grown Ups...
Izumi Hasegawa: Two questions here: As a father yourself, was this movie a way to maybe exorcise the fear that you might have that you are raising elitist, Beverly Hills children that turn out terribly? And as the writer, did you write with all of these guys in mind? It’s an amazing cast.
Adam Sandler: For the second part of the question, yes, I did. Fred Wolf and I wrote the movie. The whole idea was about putting together old friends that get to hang out for a weekend. These guys are my old friends so it made total sense. I’m glad they said yes to it.
The idea of my kids being spoiled — I go to sleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. I’m trying to do the right thing. With the amount of money I have, it’s difficult to raise children the way I was raised. But I took away the west and north wings of the house for those guys, so they’re not allowed in there.
David Spade: It’s hard to pretend you’re broke. They figure it out after awhile.
Chris Rock: My kids don’t have a trust fund — they have a debt fund. Oh my God, they’re $4 million in the whole.
IH: Do you guys feel like grown-ups? And when did it actually dawn on you that you’re actually a grown-up? Or do you even feel like one yet?
DS: I have problems with it. I’m probably the most little-kid still out of this group. But I am clinging. It’s not cute anymore. I think when I bought a house, that’s when I thought I felt like that’s a grown-up thing to do.
Kevin James: I think I’m playing grown-up because I have kids now, but I don’t feel grown-up yet.
CR: I felt it when I lost a house.
AS: When you’re around the kids, you feel like you act the most grown-up just because you’re supposed to lead.
KJ: You feel like you’re playing your father, right?
AS: Yes, exactly. I say things, like every other parent, that reminds you of your own parents. One thing I do know about being a parent is you understand why your father was in a bad mood a lot.
IH: You guys were at the Lakers game the other night…
IH: I’ve got to know what you said to Kobe [Bryant], Chris. And can you talk a little bit about the basketball angle in the movie and how that plays?
CR: I told Kobe, I said, “Oh, it looks like the Rogaine is starting to work.”
AS: I grew up playing church league basketball — it was a big part of my town. Instead of doing a movie about high school, I just thought it would be easier if we made it church league basketball kids who, when you see them in the past, it’s easier to buy little kids as us instead of high school kids who don’t…it would look a little closer to who we were if they were little.
I thought sixth grade was a big time, in my childhood, of hoops and friendship, and coming up with funny things. That’s kind of what the movie is. Our kids are that age in the movie. We thought that’s when it starts. You see the contrast of childhood now compared to what we were like as kids, so that’s why I picked the 12-year-old basketball kind of thing. That was a big part of my life. These guys all play a little bit of ball. We just thought that would be interesting.
IH: In a couple of words, how would you describe yourselves at age 12?
DS: Nerdy, reserved, awkward…
KJ: Athletic, beating the nerds up. No, I was fit, believe it or not.
AS: Oh yes, look at the pictures. He was in good shape.
KJ: Until stand-up comedy. Stand-up ruined me.
CR: And then the late-night comedy…
KJ: Yes, late-night in diners and drinking late and waking up at 3:00 and then doing it again the next night can ruin a body.
IH: As kids, we play with toys, and as adults, we have gear or whatever else that you love to deal with — hobbies or anything like that. Can you all say what some of your favorite things are that you like to collect, or your gear or anything like that?
AS: Ah, yes. We do that.
DS: I was a coin collector. Rock says he didn’t have the luxury of collecting money as a child, but I had coins. I didn’t know I was nerdy at the time. I felt that my 16-D Mercury Dime that was in uncirculated condition might be a panty-dropper, and it turned out not to be. Surprisingly, the Benjamin Franklin halves Mint set did some damage.
Then I stumbled into skateboarding, which was cooler. But I wasn’t aware of what was cool. My dad wasn’t around so he couldn’t shake me and say, “Drop the coin collecting bit. It’s not where you want to go.” So that and the spelling bee and the chess I had it figured out for myself.
IH: What do you like now?
DS: Nothing. No, I still like some of the stuff — skateboarding. I golf now. Just stupid things. But I think I was more interesting back then because I was trying a bunch of different hobbies and collections. I did rocks…all this dumb stuff. But now it’s just trying to stay afloat and get through the days.
AS: His hobbies now, apparently, are monologues.
DS: My hobbies are run-on sentences.
AS: Last night I couldn’t sleep. It was like 2:00 in the morning. I was thinking, “What can I do?” I’m watching TV. I’m like, “Let me do something else. I’m not going to fall asleep for a few hours. What are my hobbies?” There was the masturbation option. I skipped that because just knowing my kids are down the hall, I felt psychotic. So I went with watching more TV. I couldn’t come up with anything. I was going, “God, read a book.” Then I was like this, “Where do I keep the books?” I’ve got nothing to do but watch TV.
CR: You’ve got to get the iPad. They got a bunch of books in there.
DS: You watch TV on it.
IH: Kevin, what do you like?
KJ: I don’t. I think this might shock a lot of people, but I like food. I’m a connoisseur of food…but bad food. Not high-end.
AS: Double cheese and onion soup last night.
KJ: You brought me to a fancy restaurant, and I don’t love fancy restaurants. I like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese out of a box — that type of stuff. And making it and doctoring it up myself.
AS: Yeah, you were mad at the macaroni and cheese last night.
KJ: I wanted to go to Carl’s Jr.
AS: I talked him out of Carl’s Jr. and brought him to a nice place, and he was so angry.
KJ: I was angry. I’m not a fancy food guy. I don’t want three carrots on a plate. That pisses me off.
IH: Adam, you know all these guys so well, and you wrote for them. I wondered if anybody did anything that surprised you. How much ad-libbing went on?
AS: There was a lot of ad-libbing and a lot of jokes these guys brought. I wasn’t shocked by anybody. Friends of ours talk to me and they go, “Wow, Spade is…” They love Spade. I think they’re used to every one of us doing good work and not used to David doing anything good.
IH: Adam, you and Dennis Dugan are working together, yet again, on a movie called Jack and Jill. Can you tell us about that film?
CR: I’m not in it.
AS: Not yet. You might be, by the way. I might call in a favor soon. In Jack and Jill, I play me and I play my twin sister. The man version of me is doing okay. He’s got a family out in LA, and the twin sister of me is in the Bronx and comes out to LA for Thanksgiving and then refuses to leave and is spoiling the man version of my family’s life a little bit.
IH: Did your kids see you as Jill?
AS: There’s a mocked-up picture of me in my house that we made. My daughter Sadie loves it. Every time I talk about Grown Ups coming out, “Jack and Jill?” “I have to do Grown Ups first.” “And then Jack and Jill?” “Well no, I’m doing one with [Jennifer] Aniston that’s going to be good.” “Jack and Jill?” “We’ll get to Jack and Jill.” She’s excited about it.
IH: We recently got the news of John Wooden being in grave condition. In your movie, you visit your coach. Do any of you know John Wooden personally? Have you ever had any interaction? What are your thoughts about the situation?
CR: I played for UCLA.
AS: Love Wooden. Love that documentary on Wooden that’s been on HBO or whatever. They run this great documentary on UCLA and how cool Wooden is and how much his players all looked up to him. The guy never said a curse word in his life but just commanded total respect. Everybody who was on his team was just there to win and to win for him. I hope he gets better. I think one of the greatest of all time and just a stud.
IH: As New Yorkers, where are you on the LeBron-athon? You want it? You don’t want it? Or you’re going to let him stay in Cleveland?
CR: Of course we want him.
AS: It would be nice to have LeBron.
KJ: We need something. We’d take [Rob] Schneider now.
AS: I’ve been seeing Nate [Robinson] last night, all the Celtics playing for the championship knowing, at the beginning of the season, he was with the Knicks. How insane that his life changed. We were talking about it last night. Our prediction is LeBron stays in Cleveland.
IH: Chris, what did Phil Jackson actually say to you at the Laker game? Was he making a joke?
CR: He asked me if had a joint.
AS: “I’m fucking hot right now. Do you have anything to calm this shit down, Chris? No. Fuck, I’m hot.”
CR: That’s pretty much it.
IH: This movie seems like a reunion with your best friends. Do you have any best friends who just had a reunion?
AS: I would like to do this sort of reunion if I was having one – hang out at a house, do fun stuff on a lake. That’s a good place for it. In real life, it ain’t much of a reunion. We see each other, so it’s not like this gang hasn’t seen each other in 30 years. We see each other a lot. There are no reunions in my life. I see everybody too much.
IH: How often do you meet?
AS: Every time I go back to see my family in New Hampshire, my buddies hear I’m in town and they show up to the house. Rock, when he’s in LA, I see him. I see Kevin all the time. I see Spade whenever I can. Schneider I see a lot too.
IH: Is there a consensus, maybe among the four of you, of who is actually the funniest?
AS: Everybody has got their own thing. Spade is incredibly funny. He drops the most destruction bombs on you. He’s quick as hell.
DS: The fun thing about this, I think more for the audience, was that if you like even two out of the five of us, you’ll do fine in this movie.
IH: The “shoot an arrow into the air and run like hell” thing — is that real? Have you guys ever really done that?
AS: That’s Fred Wolf’s idea.
IH: He’s done that?
DS: I guess so. It sounds so dumb, but it was perfect for the movie because, when you read it, you have the same reaction as when you’re doing it. You’re like, “Why are we doing this? This couldn’t be dumber.” Then, when it disappears… I don’t know how Fred…
CR: Do we have a disclaimer at the end of the movie?
AS: Do not try this.
CR: Do not shoot an arrow in the air and run.
DS: It’s like Jackass. Most of these things are dumb. That was a fun scene — running a way in slow motion. It’s hard to run in slow motion. We did it.
IH: This is for Chris, Adam, and Kevin.
CR: Not you, Spade.
IH: I know you guys are Knick fans. Talk about what it’s like to be a Knick fan in all this bad play…
IH: What do you think we need to do to move ahead? Chris, since you’re from Brooklyn, are you going to root for the Brooklyn Knicks?
AS: No, you ain’t gonna do that. Be careful.
CR: The Knicks are giving me those seats, so I can’t go too hard on them. They’re “doing the right thing.” They have a new coach and they’re under the cap. If they don’t get LeBron or Wade, they can’t just give the money to somebody else. They can’t create another Al Houston thing where some guy is getting all the money. It’s LeBron or Wade — that’s it. Those are the only two, max.
IH: LeBron or bust?
CR: They’re the only two max players that are available. Those are guys are good.
KJ: I think I’m going to actually jump off the Knicks. I’m going to become a Globe Trotter fan. I don’t know if you’ve seen this team, but they are down so often and they keep coming back and they win. They’ve really got an amazing record. They’re slow starters, but these Globe Trotters, I’m telling you, watch for them. They’re really good. I don’t think they’ve ever lost. They’re like 1,000 and 0. They’re always down and there’s confetti.
IH: Is there something else on the DVD that’ll be good?
DS: I think there are funny things. I think there was one where we did a 40-minute take. There’s stuff in there that I remember was so funny. Sometimes you just pick if he’s being funny, he’s being funny, and you can only use one and move on in that scene. Stuff that’s good just has to go somewhere else, so you pick the best one. There’s some good stuff. I think there’ll be something in there for other people.
IH: I was just going to ask you if you’re going to be a guest host or judge on The Gong Show with Dave Attell…
DS: The Gong Show?
AS: Wow, no. I’m just going to watch.
CR: Are you producing that?
AS: Yes, our company is. Attell is a funny boy. I went down to the studio and watched. It’s pretty disgusting.
IH: Is it going to be in the vein of the original Gong Show?
AS: Yeah, but a little updated…
KJ: A little vein-ier.
IH: Adam, when you were writing this, how did you come up with Chris Rock’s character as being this sort of wife-dominated failure as a cook?
AS: Robert Smigel read the script and suggested that. We didn’t originally have that.
CR: I was a basketball ref until like two days before we started shooting.
DS: You showed up in your ref outfit the first day. “Did you read the latest one?” “No, why?”
AS: That’s right. He mastered the whistle.
IH: Was the bunion for the mother in there?
AS: Yes, we wrote that in there. She came with one too.
KJ: She brought her own. It was BYOB.
DS: Just put a little powder on it.
IH: Chris, news came recently that you’re going to be working on a remake of Kurosawa’s High and Low. Where is that? Do you know?
CR: Me, Mike Nichols and Scott Rudin are talking a lot right now. It’s just a lot of talk right now and getting the notes together.
IH: Do you know what the tone of the film’s going to be? Similar to the Kurosawa style? In San Francisco?
CR: In New York. That’s all I’ll give you. It’ll be in New York.
DS: Because that’s all you have.
IH: Can you tell us about casting the part for Salma Hayek? Did you get to choose her?
DS: Or did you win her?
AS: We talked about doing a movie for a long time. Salma was available. She almost was in The Zohan. She almost was in a bunch of movies and it didn’t time out right. This one timed out great. It was fun being married to Salma in the movie. She’s a great girl.
IH: You guys are court-side regulars. Was it easy to learn the plays for the movie?
KJ: No, no, no.
AS: It wasn’t too hard.
DS: It was more fun, but we felt like kids because they had stand-ins that would run it.
AS: Yes, they’d have real athletes play us.
DS: We had like a college kid going, “All right, Spade, you go in there and you go zip, zip, zip.” And then I’d do it wrong. He’d walk out and he goes, “Dude, dude, what are you doing?” I’d go, “I don’t know. I think I did what you did.” He goes, “No, no.” But we practiced with them in a gym and then we waited for the hottest days to shoot, apparently. I’m wrapping up before Adam yells at me again.
AS: Just take a picture already. By the way, just so you guys know, when someone on the street says, “Can I have your picture?” and they do this sh*t and they’re holding it a long time and they’re pressing the button…a lot of us people who happen to get stopped a lot…we start getting irritated, and in our brains we’re like, “Take the f*cking picture already.” We get angrier and angrier. A lot of times, the person goes, “Oh, I have it on video.” So they captured the moment of the pure 30 seconds of anger: “Would you f***in’ snap it already?” But anyway, go ahead.
IH: Being around all those kids, at some point you were like, “Oh my God, I’m about to curse and I have to hold myself back?” What’s your favorite curse word?
AS: There wasn’t too much cursing in this movie.
CR: There really wasn’t.
AS: Cursing around kids, yes, you feel guilty immediately after.
CR: We did. We really did.
IH: Kevin, are you doing a sequel for Paul Blart Mall Cop?
KJ: Not now. Not yet.
IH: What are you doing next?
KJ: I’m in Chicago working on movie right now with Ron Howard and Vince Vaughn.
IH: Who are you playing?
KJ: I play Vince Vaughn’s buddy and I’m married to Winona Ryder, and she cheats on me and he spots it, so he’s got to tell me.
IH: Is this a tragedy?
KJ: No, it’s comedy. But it’s also got some heavy moments. It’s good.
Columbia Pictures 'Grown Ups' is in theaters now.