After his debut film Sex Drive, wirter/director Sean Anders and his writing partner John Morris got a lot of writing work. They wrote the upcoming sequel to Dumb and Dumber. Anders’ second film as director is That’s My Boy, the Adam Sandler movie where he plays a guy who fathered a son with his high school teacher. The media attention turned him into a 1980s celebrity, but now that he’s a has-been he needs his adult son (Andy Samberg) to help him with a reunion special. This involves crapping your pants and masturbation tissue jokes. We went over the nitty-gritty with Anders in a private one on one at the film’s Los Angeles press junket.
CraveOnline: Sex Drive was the very first Summit movie, wasn’t it?
Sean Anders: It was, the first one that they actually produced.
What was it like to start out a studio?
It was great because it was also starting out our career at the same time. It was a bit of an unprecedented situation because as first time filmmakers, they gave us a ton of freedom which I don't think anyone else would’ve given us that much freedom. So it was actually a really great experience because we were sort of figuring out how to be filmmakers while they were figuring out how to be a studio. It was a crazy time. It was actually some of the best days of my life working on that.
With the tissue scene, was that just a magic take when that one scrap flittered by Samberg’s mouth?
Yes. [Laughs] Andy hit that perfectly so the short answer is yes, that was a lucky break and [he] just something he reacted to in a really funny way. I’m actually really glad you mentioned that because that was one of those takes that when you’re watching the monitor, you’re just like, “That looked like a little feather and he was so afraid of it.”
The segment of Donny’s fame was set in the ‘80s, when he’s on a magazine cover with the two Coreys, but still is it too soon for a Corey Haim reference?
I don't know, how long has it been? What is the rule on that? This is what I would say. I would say it would be too soon for a Corey Haim slam but we never really saw that as a slam. That was just more of a tip of the hat to the era.
I’m just fascinated by the social notion of too soon. That’s sort of a ridiculous abstract concept to me. I also asked Nicolas Stoller if it was too soon for Princess Diana in Five-Year Engagement.
And it also depends on people’s affection for [whoever it is]. Princess Diana, so much great affection for her. I don't know, I’ve never really understood those rules myself. I tend to be the guy who will make a joke about virtually anything and then other people will have to tell me, “Yeah, you can’t do that.”
I take it to the other extreme. If it’s too soon for someone recent, it should also be too soon for Abraham Lincoln or someone from history. If one is too soon, everyone should be too soon.
I always think that the other way is best. As long as it’s a joke and there isn’t hate involved, I always feel like pretty much everything’s open season. If something hits one of your own sensitive areas and if you value your comedy, a lot of times I’ve had where somebody’s made a joke, and I don’t really get offended very easily, but where something bothered me and I immediately go to the place of okay, I can’t be bothered by that joke and still make these 10 other jokes. I tend to just let it go.
How much of the Ian Ziering movie The Donny Berger Story will be on the DVD?
You know, I don't know how much will be on the DVD. We didn’t shoot a complete movie .We did a day of that with Ian and Alan Thicke. There was some pretty funny stuff. That’s actually a really good idea. I’m glad you brought that up because that would be kind of funny to cut that into at least its complete scenes and put it on there. It’s just very silly.
What can we say about how far the third act goes?
I don't know how to talk about it without spoiling it so I guess I’ll just talk about it and leave that up to you. When we came onto the project, a version of what’s in the movie was in the script and everybody approached it from the standpoint of okay, there’s a good chance we can’t do this. There’s a good chance that this is just not going to work. We had a lot of alternatives ready for it and then when we shot the stuff on the day, I think mostly because of the way that Donny reacts to it, we thought you know what? It’s really funny. The way that it pays off is so huge. Whenever we see it with an audience they just go bananas when it pays off at the wedding, so we just went with it.
That was really good. I don’t have to edit that for spoilers at all.
I would appreciate if you don’t spoil that one because it’s so much fun when people [see it].
Of course. I just want the question in there so people can read about it after. What was it like to audition all the hotties for minor roles like the makeup girl, the receptionist and the background partygoers? Everyone is hot!
[Laughs] I’m not going to lie to you, that’s fun to do. Look, I’m a geek and I grew up a geek and I’m not going to lie to you. I’m uncomfortable around hot girls. So I’m just kind of probably nicer than I need to be.
Does Donny pull a cold Budweiser out of the nightstand drawer?
It looked like a little frosty mist coming off it.
He probably put it in the freezer the night before so that it was frozen solid before he put it in the drawer so that by the time he woke up in the morning it’d still be cold.
I just meant you probably gave Sandler a cold one so it wouldn’t be awful.
I don't know, I can’t say for sure on that particular beer but Adam did actually have to drink a lot of awful warm beer just because we were in those situations where it was just like, “Throw him another one, throw him another one.”
Did Natural Ice pay the same for product placement as Budweiser?
I think they’re affiliated I want to say. I don’t know that for sure.
Who’s idea was the Meat Loaf track, “Everything Louder Than Everything Else?”
Oh man, you are zeroing in on some sh*t, man. That track, we originally cut that sequence to a different track that ended up just being too problematic and too difficult. Then we went through, I’m serious, we probably cut the sequence to 30 different songs and then tried, just roughed in probably another 40 -50 songs over it. The Meat Loaf song sort of came up near the end and it just felt like Donny. It had that very epic [quality]. I’m a fan of the Jim Steinman Meat Loaf stuff.
I’m still listening to the non-Steinman Meat Loaf stuff.
Yeah, I have some of that too. So when that came up, the funny thing was I was going to suggest that stuff a long time ago but I thought well, we were in more standard territory.
Or ‘80s territory.
Exactly, and then one of our music guys came up with it. We looked at it and that Jim Steinman thing is all about sex and being awesome and there’s something about all of his lyrics and all of that stuff, it’s so kind of overwrought but in a great way.
How different is your job on the Dumb and Dumber sequel as a writer of something that existed before?
The Dumb and Dumber sequel was scary to work on because we’re such huge fans of it but at the same time was really fun to write because any time you’re hurting for a joke, you’ll be writing a normal scene like you’re used to writing and then it would occur to you oh, no, they don’t get what’s going on here so you would have to take everything and turn it on its ear. Pete and Bobby Farrelly have been really great to us. We’ve known those guys for a few years now and they’ve just been awesome, and their producer Bradley Thomas is a big reason why we are where we are because they sort of discovered us and were telling the whole town about us. Working with those guys was really easy. They really let us just go off on our own and just do our thing and then bring it back to them and work with them on it, so it was great. But scary, I’m not going to lie to you, scary.
Why do you think comedy sequels are dangerous?
Look, I think they’re dangerous because I think that comedy sequels most of the time go back to the well. They just go, “Okay, an audience liked this set piece and they like this and they like that and whatever” and they don’t do anything really bold, more often than not. There’s that. I think the other reason why comedy sequels are difficult, a perfect example is City Slickers and City Slickers II. In City Slickers you have these three middle aged guys that are working out their lives and they all go on this journey. They all sort of arc at the end and you feel at the end of that movie that these guys are all in a much better place. And then when you catch up with them in the sequel, usually how you remember those guys, you don’t remember the flawed guys that they were at the beginning of the last movie. You remember the more balanced guys that they are at the end. So it’s tough to start a protagonist or a character from that standpoint of oh, he’s great and he loves his wife and everything’s good in his life. So I think a lot of times that makes it difficult. That’s another thing that’s nice about Dumb and Dumber is that those guys don’t learn sh*t. So you can still have them just doing the craziest stuff ever because they’re just dumb lovable guys.
Sometimes sequels really mess with their formula and take sh*t for that. Back to the Future II really messes with things and Ghostbusters II is five years later and everyone’s sick of them.
God, I haven’t seen the second Back to the Future in so long. Ghostbusters II, I loved the beginning of Ghostbusters II but I didn’t love the end. I thought the setup was fantastic that he was doing the show and the guys were off doing the kids parties. I thought that was hysterical. I should check that one out again. I don't think I’ve seen that one since.
Are Harry and Lloyd 15 years later now?
Yeah. We had this [idea], we didn’t end up doing this, this is just for your own benefit. This won’t help your story at all.
We want to hear it even if it’s not in the movie.
We had this pitch when we first were talking to Pete and Bobby about it, about opening the movie with just Jim Carrey coming out and checking the mail, and looking down and seeing Jeff Daniels out checking the mail a few houses down and being like, “Harry?” “Lloyd?” “Where’ve you been?” Just starting with that they’ve lived right next to each other for 15 years and just didn’t know. We didn’t do that so it just sort of picks up years later and they’ve gotten nowhere.
Will Jim still have the same haircut?
That’s ultimately up to Jim but I would hope so.
Does he have specific notes also because it’s his character?
Yeah, here’s the thing. Our job on that one was really to write the draft, to write the draft that the guys could work from. We wanted it off to those guys and now those guys are off doing their thing with it and then we’ll circle back with it later because we’re onto some other projects right now. The last thing that I heard was that Pete and Bobby had gone off and done a pass on the script and that they were just about to sit down with Jim and do a pass with Jim now too. That’s all the news I know on it.
Was it Mr. Popper’s Penguins that got you that job?
No. It was really Sex Drive again. We were huge Farrelly Brothers fans and when Sex Drive was in the test screening process, we had had a meeting with the Farrellys’ producer Bradley and he wanted to come and see Sex Drive so we brought him to one of the test screenings and he just became our biggest cheerleader after that, so we’ve had a relationship with those guys ever since. In fact, Pete called me the day that Sex Drive came out and nobody went to see it. It was a painful morning when the numbers came out on Sex Drive and Pete Farrelly who I was a huge fan of and didn’t know very well at the time called me just at home, in my one bedroom apartment, called me and said, “Hey man, Kingpin” – which is my favorite Farrelly Brothers movie – “Hey, Kingpin came out and didn’t do sh*t and it hurts but it doesn’t mean anything.” He kind of gave me the pep talk the day after so God, that was a dream come true. If you’ve got to feel bad about yourself, get a call from Pete Farrelly. That made me feel a lot better.
Do you get to think of the big set pieces or were those pre-pitched?
No, we came up with a concept for the movie that the Farrellys really liked and it on its own dictated certain things. I can’t talk about too much of it but we got to come up with a lot of stuff and again, there’s a long process. Those guys are going to work on it, we’ll come back and work on it some more, so what we wrote in that first draft, I have no idea what’ll actually make it to the screen but we did write some stuff that we had a really good time writing. Here’s the other thing just as a writer. The first two weeks of writing it was really hard because you’re used to those rules of the protagonist and his motivation and whatever and then you keep realizing wait, wait, wait, but they wouldn’t do that. They would do something else. Once you get in that way of flipping it all on its ear it gets really fun to write.
Samberg sh*ts himself in this movie. Do you want to give Jeff Daniels another toilet scene?
We didn’t write one in there but you never know. Did you see when he was on “Inside the Actors Studio.” He’s a f*cking awesome actor and then James Lipton says, “You were in a film by the name of Dumb and Dumber.” And the place just goes bananas for like two minutes. Jeff Daniels is sitting there in the chair and just kind of looks at the crowd like mm-hmm. Then of course he’s really funny about it. He loves it.