The raunchy and outrageous comedy That’s My Boy tells the story of Donny Berger (Adam Sandler), an aimless loser who knocked up his smoking hot teacher when he was a teenager, and was left to raise their love child even though he was completely unprepared to be a parent. Now, 30 years later, Todd (Andy Samberg) is all grown up and a successful Wall Street executive who hasn’t seen his father in years. But, with Donny owing tens of thousands to the IRS, he figures that tracking down his son will not only give him the chance to ask for the money he needs to stay out of jail, but to also finally bond with his son.
At the film’s press day, writer/director Sean Anders talked to Collider for this exclusive interview about what made Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg the perfect pairing for this film, what he’d like to see on the DVD, and the collaboration he had with Sandler both in reworking the script and on set during filming. He also talked about signing on to write and direct Three Mississippi (with partner John Morris), about two Philadelphia neighbors whose annual Thanksgiving game of tackle football has become extraordinarily heated, the possibility of a Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler pairing for the film, and the status of the Dumb and Dumber sequel with Jim Carrey. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
SEAN ANDERS: Well, I should start off by saying they were already a part of it by the time I got involved. There’s the obvious physical similarities and the bizarre similarities in their names, but I think what was so great about them in this is that they’re both actors who are really, really good actors that also like to play and really push with crazy things. You think of the character that Andy did in Hot Rod, and then in this movie, Andy is playing much more of a straight man role while Adam is the one who’s really wild and crazy.
They’re both guys that operate in a lot of the same very wide space. As actors, they can go to the right places that they need to go. Adam has been doing this forever and just is the king of the jungle, and then Andy is the young up-and-comer, but both guys are competitive and crazy hard-working guys. Andy wanted to make a good impression on the senior member of the team, and Adam didn’t want to be shown up by the young whipper-snapper. So, when those two would get going on a scene, you’d see Andy come up with some great stuff, and Adam would just step up. And then, Adam would come up with some unbelievable stuff, and you could just see Andy thinking, “I’ve still gotta swim in these waters.”
They would just push each other. We’ve got stuff that there’s no way we would have had time to put in the movie, with those guys just bouncing off of each other, that was just unbelievable. Sometimes the takes would get ridiculously long because there would be no reason to call, “Cut!” You just wanted to see where they were going to go. What was so cool to me was watching those guys just push each other into really fun places.
Is there anything you had to cut that you’re hoping you’ll be able to include on the DVD?
ANDERS: Oh, my god! The first cut of the movie was three hours and something long. Yeah, there were so many things that, along the way, we had to part with. For me, just for my own tastes, it’s not so much jokes, but just nuances between Adam and Andy. There were so many moments where there would just be a look or a bit of banter, back and forth, that we knew wasn’t driving the story. We were already longer than we wanted to be and we just didn’t have room for certain things. Those cuts were hard. Plus, there was one thing, in particular, that probably won’t even end up on the DVD. There was this one moment when Andy tells Adam there’s going to be a bachelor party, and we were doing Andy’s coverage, so we weren’t even really covering Adam. Adam just went off on this tangent about how awesome the bachelor party was going to be, and he was wandering in and out of frame and just going bananas. I just loved it. It was my favorite thing. So, I put it in the movie and I showed it to Adam and said, “I know this is weird. You’re wandering in and out of frame. You’re out of focus, half the time because we’re just on Andy the whole time. But, I think it’s hysterical.” We put it in front of the test audiences and too many people were like, “What was that?! He wasn’t even in the picture!” It didn’t kill the way I wanted it to. So, that’s my answer. That’s what I want to see on the DVD because it was such a great moment.
ANDERS: That was the big question for us getting involved in the movie. Because we were the outsiders on this, and there was already a script and actors and Adam had his entire crew, we wondered if we would be able to affect this process, in some way, instead of just being these hired guns. I had a very genuine concern about that ‘cause I didn’t want to do that. Even though it was a huge opportunity, I didn’t want to just go in and do that. So, the way that we found out was that, when we first came onto the project, Adam said, “Look, I’m busy in post, so why don’t you guys go off and write some pages?,” so we did. We wrote some pages and we turned in our first 15 or 20 pages to Adam, and he reacted really positively to what we wrote. We got excited, but we still weren’t sure, at that moment. We were like, “Well, we’re the new guys. Is he just throwing us a bone?” And then, he said, “Yeah, keep writing!” We went off and finished 50 pages of the script and sent them in to him, and that was one of the high points of my entire life.
To put it into context, we’re guys that made one movie that nobody saw, before this happened. I was just at home with my wife and sent in the pages, and I got a call from Adam Sandler. I’ve known the guy for a week and talked to him twice, and he called me at home. He said, “These pages are great!,” and was going off on how he liked the stuff that we’d written and he was really excited. For real, he called me five times that day ‘cause he was just excited about the pages and they were giving him ideas. He was coming up with all this hilarious stuff, and I was writing the stuff down as fast as he could say it and tried to think about how I could make that work with what we’d written. I called John [Morris], my writing partner, and was like, “Holy shit, dude, we are going to be able to affect this creative process. It’s not going to be like we feared it might be. We’re actually in this now.” That was huge for us.
What was Adam Sandler like to collaborate with on the set?
ANDERS: On set, Adam was very cool. Look, I’m not going to lie to you, the first couple of days of shooting this giant movie star, you feel a little bit like, “Hey, dude, what if we did this?” But really, he was so open to the suggestions. If you can throw him something, he can hit it out. You can come up with an idea and go, “What if you do something like this?,” and then he does the ten times funnier version of that and makes you look good because everybody in the crew saw you come up with an idea, and he makes your idea look really great. We actually got to have a role, all the way through. And of course, Andy [Samberg] did, too. It’s all very collaborative. My hope is that, when people see the movie, if they know anything about who we are, they will see our influence in the movie. I feel like it’s there.
Now that you’re part of the Adam Sandler club, is Three Mississippi what you’re going to be doing next, and has he signed on for it?
ANDERS: That’s something that is just in the planning stages right now. That actually came up the other direction. It isn’t a result of being in the Adam Sandler club. We were actually working on the script for a different Will Ferrell movie, right after That’s My Boy wrapped up. And then, because of Anchorman 2 and a bunch of other moves that got made, it became apparent that Three Mississippi was going to be his next movie. We are huge Will Ferrell fans, so because of our involvement with the other thing, we got involved with that one, and we ultimately got hired to rewrite and direct it.
How the Adam part of it came to pass was that one of Will’s producers had talked to Adam and said, “We’re going to do this project with these guys. How did you like working with them?” Adam said really nice stuff about us, and then he said, “What’s the project?” I didn’t even talk to him about it. They told him what the project was and Adam said, “Well, that sounds like fun.” And then, I got a call and they said, “Adam Sandler is talking about being in it,” and I was just like, “No way! There’s no way he’s going to do that! He’s doing Grown Ups 2. He’s going to be too busy. That’s really cool that he wants to, but there’s no way that’s going to happen.”
But then, a week later, they said he was really interested. So, I called Adam myself and said, “I don’t want to put you on the spot here, but if you’re up for this, that would be gigantic,” and he was like, “Yeah!” It’s still in the talking process right now, but it’s interesting because that didn’t come from anyone saying, “Hey, we did this one, let’s do another one right away.” It was more like we went off to do this other thing and it just happened that way. I’m really excited about it. I’m hoping that it goes that way. Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler together in this movie would be amazing!
How far along is the Dumb and Dumber sequel?
ANDERS: For me, it’s all the way along. That was the first thing that John [Morris] and I wrote when we were just wrapping up post on That’s My Boy. We had met with Jim Carrey right before we flew to Boston to shoot this movie. We had a meeting, and then went right to the airport. And then, the whole summer, the Farrelly’s producer was calling me and saying, “Hey, have you had a chance to work on the script?,” and I was like, “Dude, no! We’re crazy busy!” So, we hadn’t done anything. And then, when things were finally starting to slow down a little bit, in the post-production process, we went off and wrote Dumb and Dumber 2, and had a blast writing it. We turned it in and everybody was really happy and excited, and then Pete and Bobby took the script and went off and did their thing with it.
Now, what I’m hearing from those guys is that they’re about to sit down with Jim Carrey and work through it with him. The hope is that it goes into production this Fall. That was another pinch yourself thing. Dumb and Dumber is one of my all-time favorite movies. We’re huge Farrelly brothers fans, and it was great to get to know those guys and work with those guys. You have to understand where we come from. My writing partner, John, and I are just guys that made a movie with a cheap video camera, just for fun with our friends, and it turned into craziness.
We never set out to have a career. We weren’t guys that were going to film school and killing ourselves to get an agent. We just made this movie for fun, and then one thing led to another and led to another and, pretty soon, we were writing Dumb and Dumber 2 and thinking, “What is going on here?!” We’re very grateful and very excited, but very terrified a lot of the time, too. When you’re working on that script, you have so much fun writing it, but then also you think, “Jesus Christ, this is Dumb and Dumber 2. I don’t want to screw this up!”
How many projects are you currently juggling, or do you prepare to focus on just one thing at a time?
ANDERS: You’re supposed to juggle. That’s what your agents want you to do. I’m not really a juggling kind of guy. I really like to be focused on one thing. Since this movie wrapped up, we’ve been juggling a few scripts, and the idea is just to see what you can get to a green light first. In the case of Dumb and Dumber 2, that was the only thing that we were willing to do that we wouldn’t be attached to direct because to have our names anywhere on that movie, we were like, “We’ll cater that movie, we don’t care.” We’re just trying to get our next directing project off the ground and, as anybody will tell you, green lights are getting harder and harder to come by. So, it is smart to have a few irons in the fire, but I really like to be obsessed with one thing at a time.