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About the Costumes
Costume Designer Ellen Lutter marks her 12th feature film with Adam Sandler with Grown Ups 2. Like most of the other "repeat offenders" on Sandler's crew, she likens the experience to being part of a family -- and, she says, it's an experience that she never really saw coming. "It's rare in the industry these days," she says, for a group of professionals to keep working together, project after project. "None of us realized it, but I think Adam was very aware of this system of working -- he was very keyed into creating a company, creating a family, that would repeatedly work together. The entire crew turns into a safety net -- you care about the project and you care about each other. And it's very freeing -- if you have a risky idea, you don't have to start tap dancing or freeze up with anxiety or worry that if it's not understood, you're going to get fired."

Grown Ups 2 represented one of Lutter's greatest challenges to date, as the climax of the film is an 80s party, with all the main cast, supporting cast, and extras dressed as celebrities from the decade. There are plenty of laughs in the climax of the film, and many of them come from the shock of recognition as sight gag piles on top of sight gag.

How to tackle such a scene? One costume at a time, says Lutter. "You always know when you're responsible for the laugh -- you don't have to be told," she says. "I thought about the characters individually. It was more interesting to do costumes that had a little social commentary aspect -- to do specific celebrities rather than just make everyone have big hair. We continued the theme in the extras as well -- it was more interesting and challenging to have that moment when the audience recognizes a celebrity or idea, and because we had so many, it rewards repeated viewings. The trip down memory lane is what adds to the joke -- and, in addition, in and of themselves, the costumes are funny. We had quite a few ways of getting a laugh out of it."

Many of the celebrity references were written into the script, but more came out of discussion with Sandler and Dugan and research by the costume department. "We did lists of possibilities," says Lutter. "I love research -- and because nothing beats a visual representation as a point of departure, we made our lists with the visuals so that we could plug them into our characters. Ultimately, Adam and Dennis are the final decision-makers."

Some of the 80s celebrities in the party scene include:

  • Adam Sandler as Bruce Springsteen
  • Kevin James as Meat Loaf
  • Chris Rock as Prince
  • Alexander Ludwig and David Spade as Hall and Oates
  • Maria Bello as Madonna
  • Maya Rudolph as Tina Turner
  • Nick Swardson as Boy George
  • Oliver Hudson as Indiana Jones
  • Shaquille O'Neal and Peter Dante as Miami Vice
  • Kevin Grady as Magnum PI
  • Dan Patrick as Larry Bird
  • Steve Buscemi as Flavor Flav
Lutter says that for the most part, the actors were happy to play dress-up. "The one I was worried about was Jake Goldberg, playing Adam's son Greg, dressing up as Risky Business," she says. "That costume, you know, is just a shirt, socks, underwear, and a pair of sunglasses, and I didn't know how a teenage boy was going to feel about that. So I thought, OK, I'll have a backup plan. Colin Quinn was set to play Top Gun, and I thought, he's got good legs, if I had to, I could swap them. So I went to Colin to talk to him about it, and he said, 'Are you crazy? I'm not doing Risky Business!' Although, by the way, he had no problem being Lover Boy as a backup in a pair of tight red pants that left about as much to the imagination as the Risky Business underwear would have. But I got lucky -- Jake was absolutely cool about it and looked great doing it."

Lutter's other big challenge in the production of Grown Ups 2is the pair of encrusted, lit-up, blinged-out boots worn by Ada-Nicole Sanger as Donna Lamonsoff. "Even though it looked like a silly little toy, it was a huge challenge and it took a long time to get it right," she says. "We started with sketches and collages, and then we built a few prototypes -- we didn't know what we wanted until we saw it live and on film in a camera test. When we finally were able to put together a combination of the elements that we liked, we started working on wiring the lights on them to blink -- we collaborated with Theo Van de Sande, the director of photography, and the electric department in order to come up with the correct lights that we could control with a dimmer and do the whole thing remotely. The lights were controlled off-camera with a regular lighting cue, as if you had an actor walk in a room and turn on a light. It was fun to create a personality for the lights -- they could blink, or chase, or dim down if they were too bright. It was super-fun to create a practical thing that worked flawlessly."

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