Grown Ups is a comedy about a group of old friends reuniting after 30 years. But in real life, the actors playing the roles, who are good friends, see each other all the time. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider, all know each other from stand-up clubs and the iconic TV series Saturday Night Live.
In the movie, they come together after their beloved former basketball coach dies, deciding to spend the summer, with their families, at the lake house where they celebrated their championship 30 years before.
Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and David Spade talk about their roles, their friendship and what it’s like to make a movie with competitive comedians.
Can you talk a little about your characters?
Kevin James: (Eric Lamonsoff) is basically a nice guy who just wants to pretend he’s a little big better than he is, but he doesn’t need to do that around his buddies. He remembers he can be himself and they’ll help.
Chris Rock: (Kurt McKenzie) is a househusband. He stays home with the kids.
David Spade: (Marcus Higgins) is a little bit of a skirt chaser and he’s a flirt with girls. Because all the other characters are married, he likes to mix it up with the group.
The other four are all jealous of him, because he doesn’t have to deal with a wife, kids, he can date whoever he wants. But what’s cool when you’re 20 isn’t so cool when you’re 40, and Marcus is jealous of his friends for what they have.
Rob Schneider: (Rob Hilliard) is obsessed with certain things to avoid emotional issues in his life. He gives advice but doesn’t apply it to his own life.
How good are you really at playing basketball?
David Spade: I’m okay, I have a few trick shots. Sandler’s the best of us, and Kevin’s pretty good. I’m okay, Schneider’s okay … sorry, Rock.
Chris Rock: I am not an athlete. Can I play? No. I couldn’t play when I was young, but at least then, I played a lot, so I found ways to contribute. Now that I’m older, I really suck. It’s just horrible.
What about training with NBA player Pooh Richardson?
David Spade: I thought, ‘Okay, we aren’t supposed to be that good,’ so I thought we were just going to run and goof around with Pooh. But he got there and he had us run plays. We ran a zip 45, bounce pass, switch around, underneath, reverse layup. It was fun, we learned about 18 plays. We never got any better, but we looked really cool.
Can you talk about your friendships and what it was like working together?
Chris Rock: Most of the guys met on Saturday Night Live. I met Adam doing stand-up 20 years ago easily at Comic Strip in New York. We just hit it off when we were the younger funnier guys in the club. Spade I met at SNL. Schneider I met at SNL
Rob Schneider: When SNL’ stories came out, I’d just see Kevin sort of fading away. Honestly, though, it seemed like Kevin is cut from the same cloth. Having done stand-up comedy and surviving, he gets it.
Kevin James: All these guys are icons. Every day, I was laughing and just having the best time. You always want to work with comedians you respect and trust – if you can make them laugh, you think, ‘Well, then, it’s funny. I can trust it.’
Chris Rock: Any time we weren’t shooting, we were just saying horrible things about each other. Things most people, civilians, couldn’t take. Comedians have to have thicker skins.
It’s a funny thing, even when I’m writing my stand-up act. I can perform for 20,000 people, but any joke I write is just for my friends to laugh at.
David Spade: Each of us has a slightly different sense of humor. All of these guys are all funny, but I also respect them because they each have something that I can’t do. Like Kevin James has a move I don’t do so it’s fun to watch him do that. Chris Rock is obviously his own guy. We all have similar jokes, but there’s a delivery that makes everyone different.
Rob Schneider: It’s good to have your friends around, because you understand each other. Adam can work with anybody he wants, and he wants to work with the people he knows and trusts. Those relationships come through in the movie, and I think that’s part of what audiences like to see in his movies.
Kevin James: This was the best time working I’ve ever had. It was natural. We are all good friends so that translates to the film.
You’ve collaborated with Adam Sandler for years, but this is the first time you’ve co-starred in a movie with him.
David Spade: He got Joe Dirt going, Dickie Roberts, Benchwarmers, Rules of Engagement. I mean, it’s like he’s my agent. He’s always been cool to me. I just didn’t think it would ever happen that we would be in a movie together, and that was okay. I thought it was just something that wasn’t in the cards – but it was really nice when he said he wanted me for this one.