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The Untold Truth Of Grown Ups

Adam Sandler might not be everybody's cup of tea, but he certainly knows his demographic better than most of us presume. His loud and lowbrow brand of comedy has found an audience for decades now, defying critical maulings and hit pieces that question why Happy Madison Productions is still allowed to make movies altogether. Sandler's most notable partner-in-laughs is director Dennis Dugan, as the two have teamed up for eight feature films (via IMDb) and even received a few Razzie nominations. Arguably, their most successful project was the "Grown Up" film series, which brought Sandler, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, and Chris Rock together in an all-star chuckle-thon. More importantly, the films cleaned up at the box office.

While "Grown Ups" might have appeared to be a good excuse for a bunch of friends to goof around for a couple of weeks — which it kind of was — there's an absorbing story behind the making of these films that's begging to be told. From the extravagant purchase of several luxury cars to a lead actor declining to do a stunt until the director did it first, it's time to put on those basketball shorts and head off to the lake to find out the untold truth of "Grown Ups."

Adam Sandler bought Maseratis for the lead cast

At some companies, if an employee sticks around for 25 years or more, they receive significant paid time off or a gold watch as a thank-you gift for their service. It's a nice touch, really. However, if someone signs up to be one of Adam Sandler's castmates, well, let's say that the Sandman's generosity might have everyone searching for his next film's casting call before the end of this article.

Speaking to Howard Stern (via Yahoo), Chris Rock revealed that Sandler isn't shy to show his appreciation for his co-stars. "I went outside the other day and I had a new Maserati in the driveway," he said. Reportedly, Sandler also purchased a car each for Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Kevin James as a way to say thanks for the success of "Grown Ups." Considering the cost of these luxury vehicles varies, there's the possibility that Sandler could have parted with nearly $1 million worth of gifts for his pals. With that in mind, who would rather work with Sandler instead of Christopher Nolan after hearing this interesting fact?

Chris Rock said Grown Ups was better than The Artist

Debating a film's quality is a lot like arguing about which flavor of ice cream is better (everyone knows the correct answer is chocolate). The reality is it's all down to personal taste and preference at the end of the day. Critics will argue, though, that there are technical elements that can be used as a basis for saying if something is genuinely worth our time or not. For Chris Rock, he utilizes another formula to judge what makes a good film.

In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, Rock made an outrageous claim that raised more than a few eyebrows. "Dude, people love 'Grown Ups,'" he said. "I don't care what the critics say. Who won the Academy Award this year? 'The Artist'? Hey, 'The Artist' was great. 'Grown Ups' is better than 'The Artist,' and it's better than 'The Artist' [because] the audience says so." Rock added that he believed "Madagascar 3" was also better than "The Artist" since it makes people feel good, and that critics would never cop to this reality.

The identity of the most grown-up cast member was revealed

The irony of the title "Grown Ups" is that most of the characters were anything but. They were petulant, childish, and often obsessed with reclaiming their glory years. Of course, this was likely the intention of Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf's script, as it's a coming of middle age journey for Lenny and his high-school pals as they're meant to discover what truly matters in life.

Despite the silliness and immaturity on display, the actors aren't the same as the characters they portray on screen. However, there is one cast member who was deemed as the most grown-up of them all: Salma Hayek. Chatting to CBS News, the cast revealed that Hayek was the person who carried herself like an adult and kept everyone else in check, and she didn't disagree with their comments either. Kevin James even said, "Like in the middle of the take, she'll come over, and she'll go 'You have a little schmutz on your face' and she just takes it right off the cheek."

Adam Sandler made Grown Ups a family friendly environment

Although a film might look like a lot of fun from the hilarity and good times on screen, that doesn't mean the atmosphere behind the scenes is the same. Most movie productions are time-sensitive and highly pressurized environments that have everyone scrambling to meet unrealistic deadlines. Due to these factors and the immense stressful nature of the film industry, most cast members decide to keep their family away from these tense sets. Adam Sandler doesn't subscribe to this principle, though, since most of his films are produced in the company of friends. Even his co-star and on-screen wife, Salma Hayek, couldn't believe how family friendly the "Grown Ups" production was and how it assisted her in finding the balance between being a mother and actress.

"We all have children and we all brought our children to the set," Hayek told SheKnows. "Adam [Sandler] makes it like the dream environment to bring children. They are so highly entertained. You're nervous when you get back home (as to) how you're going to entertain your child because they have all kinds of toys and things there for them to play with. Everybody had children around the same age so [my daughter] loved coming to work every day with me."

Cameron Boyce came up with an iconic line

In 2019, Cameron Boyce passed away due to a seizure caused by epilepsy (via ABC7). The event sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment industry, as many couldn't believe that Boyce's burgeoning acting career had been cut short so soon and so tragically. While he was mostly known as a Disney actor for his work on the show "Jessie" and the "Descendants" movies, he also appeared in the two "Grown Ups" films in which he played the role of Keithie Feder, Lenny's son.

As a tribute, Adam Sandler dedicated his 2020 film "Hubie Halloween" to the memory of the young actor (via ET Canada). Appearing on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Sandler praised Boyce not only as a talented actor but also as a kind and generous human being who had become close to Sandler and his family. He also revealed that the memorable line "I'm gonna get chocolate wasted" from "Grown Ups" actually came from Boyce, who allowed his on-screen sister, Alexys Nycole Sanchez, to use it in the film.

Why Rob Schneider didn't return for the sequel

One of the major absentees from "Grown Ups 2" was Rob Schneider, who played Rob Hilliard in the first film. His spot in the friendship circle was replaced by Nick Swardson who played Nick the bus driver. It was a surprising turn of events, especially since Schneider is practically glued at the hip to Adam Sandler and they have regularly appeared together on film and TV since their days on "Saturday Night Live." So, what was the real reason for Rob Schneider not being in the sequel? Did Schneider and Sandler have a massive fallout or something?

During a radio interview (via Vulture), Schneider discussed why he didn't return for the sequel. "They're doing 'Grown Ups 2' without me. Mistake," he said. "They should have paid me a lot of money ... Well, truthfully, I wasn't sure if I'd have my TV series, so it was an availability thing, but at the end of the day, they should have [said], 'What money does Rob need?'" While there was a tongue-in-cheek element to what Schneider said, he didn't pop up in Sandler's films for a couple of years during this period, leading many people to believe there might have been some tension between the long-time friends. If there was, though, it must have been all been ironed out, since they've combined their comedic powers again.

Adam Sandler's wardrobe was his normal clothes

Ever watch an Adam Sandler movie and think that's just the clothes he wears on a regular day? Well, there's certainly some truth to that. Speaking on Rob Lowe's "Literally!" podcast (via Uproxx), David Spade disclosed a few fascinating details about the "Grown Ups" films, including how Sandler encouraged the cast to write their own jokes and participate as collaborators.

However, the most entertaining revelation was about Sandler's wardrobe choice. "The funny thing is, Sandler is wearing a striped T-shirt," Spade said. "He has a striped T-shirt on the bed for his wardrobe for the day, and then there is a rack of T-shirts and big shorts." For the sequel, a wardrobe assistant had a similar outfit picked out for Sandler, but the actor walked in, looked at the outfit then at what he was wearing, and said he'd just go with what he had on. According to Spade, he wore his own clothes for the entire shoot. Well, that's certainly one way of keeping production costs down.

David Spade didn't think Grown Ups 2 was needed, but people wanted it

Upon its release, "Grown Ups" received an 11% critical approval and 62% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical battering was expected, but considering that the fans are the ones who ultimately decide a film's success, the 62% wasn't an overwhelming two thumbs-up for the movie either. That said, there must have been a lot of covert Adam Sandler fans who watched, it since the comedy cleaned up at the box office and brought in over $270 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo).

Those are the kind of numbers that inspire a studio to greenlight a franchise instantly, which is exactly what happened. The problem was convincing Sandler to agree to "Grown Ups 2," since he isn't a fan of doing sequels of his films and this would be the first. Once that hurdle was cleared, it was all systems go for the next entry in the series. At the San Jose Improv event (via The Mercury News), David Spade was asked if the sequel was actually needed. Surprisingly, the actor was refreshingly honest in his response. "Lucky America," he replied. "It's coming. I don't think they need it, but they want it ... I've seen it twice, and it's a lot of good, upbeat and stupid fun."

Who was the best basketball player on set?

Central to the plot of "Grown Ups" was basketball. The sport brought the friends together in the first place and culminated with them winning a championship back in high school that became a major talking point of their lives. While the films focused more on them rekindling their friendships as adults, their love for basketball didn't go away. The inspiration for the basketball angle undoubtedly came from the mind of Adam Sandler, since he's a renowned fan of the sport. The question is, how are his skills on the court, though?

"Grown Ups" co-star Maria Bello told SheKnows that Sandler could be a professional in her eyes. It was a sentiment echoed by both Salma Hayek and Maya Rudolph, who said he was the best basketball player out of the leading cast members. Appearing on the "Green Light with Chris Long" podcast (via InsideHook), NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal who appeared in "Grown Ups 2" gave his stamp of approval to Sandler but with an important caveat. "[Sandler's] legit," he said. "Not pro legit, but he's definitely LA Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness legit."

Shaq was the funniest person on the Grown Ups 2 set

While "Grown Ups 2" brought back most of the core characters from the first film, it also had a star-studded supporting cast. From the likes of WWE superstar "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to "Twilight" heartthrob Taylor Lautner and future "Vikings" actor Alexander Ludwig, there was no shortage of recognizable faces on screen. Another famous name that stepped into the frame was NBA icon Shaquille O'Neal who portrayed Officer Fluzoo. Shaq is no stranger to the entertainment industry, having leading roles in "Kazaam" and "Steel" in the mid-'90s and popping up regularly on TV shows throughout the years.

While Shaq is more renowned for his basketball career than his foray into film, he left a big impression on his "Grown Ups 2" co-stars — and not just with his height or dribbling ability on the court. "Shaq, by far, was our favorite guy," Sandler told MTV. "Unanimously, every comedian in the movie said Shaq was funnier than them." Sounds like a basketball-centric comedy where Sandler and Shaq are rival coaches needs to be the next Happy Madison project on the agenda, right?

David Spade didn't want to do the rolling tire gag

Both "Grown Ups" films weren't comedies without consequence. They required a few stunts that might have made many an actor flinch and question if they were good ideas to begin with. While the incredibly high cliff jump from "Grown Ups 2" appeared to be the most dangerous of the lot, it actually wasn't because the actors had body doubles to that particular stunt, as David Spade revealed at the San Jose Improv (via The Mercury News).

However, Spade wasn't originally a fan of another stunt gag in "Grown Ups 2" where the actor had to be put inside a tire and rolled down the street. Stunt coordinator Scott Rogers told Female.com.au that the team had to build a special kind of prop tire, since a camera needed to be placed inside to capture Spade's emotions. Using a cart, the stunt team pulled the tire and controlled where it would roll, ensuring the actor was safe at all times. Director Dennis Dugan added that it took some convincing to get Spade to perform the scene himself. "I had to do it first," he said. "Only after he saw an old man had done it was he embarrassed enough to do it. I'm glad he did, because it's very funny and very cool."

Adam Sandler knew the critics would hate the films

Scroll through most of Adam Sandler's comedy films on Rotten Tomatoes and there's a noticeable trend: They're mostly rated Rotten and contain stinging reviews. The Sandman isn't exactly adored by critics, nor was the double salvo of "Grown Ups" and "Grown Ups 2." The Irish Times' Donald Clarke didn't hold back in his scathing critique of the sequel, either, writing: "Just don't go and see this terrible, terrible film. Is that clear?"

While Superman's greatest weakness is Kryptonite, it appears as if Sandler's vulnerability has yet to be discovered, since bad reviews do nothing to him. Sandler revealed to The Independent that he's well aware of the criticism and what's said about him and his films. "I could almost write the piece for them by now," he said. "But then remember that I didn't get into movies to please the critics. I got into it to make people laugh and have fun with my friends." As long as he can make movies like "Grown Ups," hang out with the likes of Kevin James and Chris Rock all day on set, and get paid handsomely, he's living the life many of us dream of. So who has had the last laugh here?