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The Out-Laws. (L to R) Pierce Brosnan as Billy, Adam DeVine as Owen, Ellen Barkin as Lilly, Nina Dobrev as Parker in The Out-Laws.
Cr. Scott Yamano/Netflix © 2023.

Exclusive interview: Director Tyler Spindel talks Netflix’s new Happy Madison action comedy ‘The Out-Laws’

The filmmaker talks to WGTC about his latest collaboration with longtime cohort Adam Sandler.

Few things are guaranteed to find success on streaming when the competition is getting hotter than ever, but anything that arrives on Netflix bearing the Happy Madison branding is one of the very few exceptions to the rule, with director Tyler Spindel’s The Out-Laws set to keep that streak alive when it premieres tomorrow.

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Star and producer Adam DeVine heads up the star-studded cast as bank manager Owen Browning, set to marry Nina Dobrev’s Parker McDermott without having met her parents before. However, once Pierce Brosnan’s Billy and Ellen Barkin’s Lilly arrive on the scene at right around the same time Owen’s workplace is the victim of a daring heist, he begins to suspect his in-laws might be the culprits.

Michael Rooker, Lil Rel Howery, Julie Hagerty, Richard Kind, Poorna Jagannathan, and Lauren Lapkus are among the other members of the ensemble, with The Out-Laws ticking all of the boxes Happy Madison fans have come to expect from Adam Sandler’s powerhouse production company.

Ahead of the film’s premiere on Netflix, We Got This Covered had the chance to speak to Spindel about his latest project. During our chat, we cover everything from Sandler and Spider-Man to potential sequels and getting Brosnan to reference his history as James Bond, which you can check out below.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 26: Tyler Spindel attends Netflix's Special Screening of "The Out-Laws" on June 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Netflix

You’ve been working with Happy Madison for almost two decades now in various capacities, but what is it about the company, its culture, and the environment that has so many actors, writers, producers, and directors signing on for multiple projects over the course of a number of years?

It’s like… I like to say Happy Madison is like the Olive Garden: Once you’re there, your family. You know, Sandler is just the best person in the world, he treats everybody like you’re a member of his family. He’s good to everybody. He’s the greatest leader and the greatest guide, and it just couldn’t be a better work environment. And plus, he’s just really, really smart, too. And a really funny guy, and he’s got great taste. And then, you become friends with everybody. Working with people that you trust, it becomes a lot easier build up a rapport, and so it just makes it smoother. But you know what, once you meet Adam, and you do one movie with him, you never want to do anything else.

The Out-Laws is billed as an action comedy, but there might be a lot more action than a lot of people are expecting. Was leaning into that side of the equation while letting the comedy speak for itself through the script and the performers always a key part of your approach to the project since the beginning?

Yeah, I just really wanted to make something fun, and big, and wild. I’m just a huge action junkie, like I am the biggest Jon Favreau and Michael Bay fan. And it was my dream to get to be able to shoot a car chase or, you know, a shootout. And so when I read the script, I was like, “Oh, my god, there could be some cool action in this.” And yeah, there’s a lot of action in the movie, we do some crazy stunts. So I’m trying to make it not your typical comedy. We wanted to make it big and wild, and have some Fast & Furious moments.

It makes for a solid audition tape for a full-blown action blockbuster, is that something on the bucket list for you to tackle eventually?

That’s the idea, actually. That’s the idea. I’m trying to build my audition tape. And hopefully, one day I get one of those movies where I get to blow up a building or something, or do something wild.

A lot of the cast knows each other, and they’re familiar with each other both on and off-camera. Does that make it easier for you as a director knowing they already have that established chemistry even before the first day on set, so you can just point the camera and let them cut loose knowing they’re doing their jobs?

It really, really does. It’s a huge thing. You know, Pierce and Ellen have known each other for a while, and Nina and Adam, Nina and Rel; it makes it a lot easier when actors have worked together before. You know, I like to improv a lot, and I like to riff on set. And so when they’ve worked together before, it really just makes it smooth and makes it flow better, and you get better stuff. So yeah, it was important. I mean, I think everybody individually was fantastic too, but the fact that they knew each other before was a big advantage.

The Out-Laws. Adam Devine as Owen Browning, Nina Dobrev as Parker McDermott in The Out-Laws.
Cr. Scott Yamano/Netflix ©2023

When you’ve got a cast like that at your disposal, there’s destined to be room for improvisation, but with so many experienced comic actors sharing the screen bouncing off each other, does there ever come a point where you need to rein things in a little so you don’t end up with hours upon hours of footage to sift through in the edit?

Well, we did end up with hours and hours of footage to go through! Maybe I should have reined it in more, but I don’t know. For me, I like to run a kind of loose set, and I feel like you can find pearls and gems and improv and things you never even thought of in the script phase. So I like to just let it go loose. We always – on the first couple of takes – hit the script, and then after that I encourage the actors to just push, and push, and push, and see where the scene goes, and then usually on the last take I’ll be like “Okay, we found something cool there, now let’s do the script, but with that moment that we found.” So yeah, I guess you do rein it at the end, but it really just depends on the situation, and some of the best moments in the movie were our improvs.

As well as being the star, Adam DeVine is also a producer on this as well. Was he involved since the very beginning on the ground floor? Because like yourself, he’s familiar with the Netflix/Happy Madison filmmaking model as well.

From my recollection, the writers pitched him, I mean, basically like a two-line idea of his in-laws being outlaws. And then, Adam and the writers developed the script, and then they brought me on. It was already a full script, it was already really good. And yeah, it was really rare to read something this funny and this well-developed. So it was really lucky on my part.

Pierce Brosnan makes a reference to James Bond in the movie, was that something that was always in the script, and did he need any convincing to say it? Because sometimes he gives off the distinct impression that he’d rather talk about anything else when the subject comes up.

That was an improv. That was a riff that we did on set. And it was so funny, we had already shot DeVine’s coverage where he shot his side, and it was something we started doing when we were shooting the other side, we’re shooting Pierce and Ellen. And once we did it, I was like, “Man, that’s so funny. That’s such a killer.” So we went back around and reshot Adam DeVine doing his, because we didn’t even have that on camera. So yeah, that was a riff, and that was one of the examples of great comedy just coming from actors being loose and fun.

Pierce is obviously an established veteran of the industry, but he doesn’t do comedy this broad very often, so it would be fair to say that he’s something of a revelation in The Out-Laws.

That’s nice. Yeah, it was so awesome to convince Pierce to do something like this. And I just always thought he was funny. And I loved his delivery. And he’s just such a great actor. When somebody is that great of an actor, they can do everything. And yeah, it was cool to have him do something like this, and pitching Pierce Brosnan silly lines was really a dream come true!

The Out-Laws
Image via Netflix

Not long after premiering, The Wrong Missy ended up as one of Netflix’s Top 10 most-watched original movies of all-time. Does that put any subconscious pressure on you as a filmmaker to better yourself, or is it not something you’ve ever really taken into account?

I mean, obviously, I would love everything I do to be successful. My opinion is, my feeling is like, I just go in and work as hard as I can on every project. And I’m given the opportunity to direct and just lay it on the field, and put everything into it, and just put my heart into it. I hope that people like it. And what I say is, all I can ask is for people to give this movie a chance. And if after 90 minutes, you don’t like it, just turn it off, you know?

You’re definitely in a good place, because when it comes to the data and the numbers, Happy Madison on Netflix is about as bulletproof as it gets.

Yeah, yeah, I hope so. And I’m just so lucky to be a part of that group, and their family, and that brand, and just trying to do them proud and make everybody happy.

Were you always determined to get Lauren Lapkus into The Out-Laws at all costs? Her character is mentioned early on but doesn’t show up until deep in the third act, but she still manages to make quite the impression despite fairly limited screentime.

Yeah, I need to get Lauren in every one of my movies! That was just a prerequisite for me. I said we’re getting her in there, and we’re writing a role for her. Lauren just brings it every time you just roll the camera and it’s just like, you know you’re gonna get laughs And so, yeah, that role was very different initially in the original script, and we’re like, “Oh, God, we just gotta write it around Lauren.” And, you know, she came in and rocked it as usual. I mean, we’re all lucky for it.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 26: (L-R) Adam Sandler and Tyler Spindel attend Netflix's Special Screening of "The Out-Laws" on June 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Netflix

You’ve directed movies that Adam Sandler has produced, made cameos in several of his features, shot second unit on seven of his star vehicles if that’s correct, and worked with both [wife] Jackie and [nephew] Jared as actors, so when do are you finally directing that Adam Sandler movie of your own, because that’s got to be on the cards by now?

Hopefully soon, hopefully soon! I mean, yeah, that’s maybe soon. I mean, Adam’s the best. That’s a dream of mine, is to be able to direct one of his movies. So I don’t know when. The next one I’m doing is a romantic comedy. It’s not with Adam, but he is producing it again. And so, hopefully maybe the one after that will be one that he stars.

Then again, would you entertain the idea of a sequel to The Out-Laws if it proves to be enough of a success that you’ve got Netflix knocking on the door again?

It’s set up for a sequel, so we’ll just see. Let’s hope everybody likes it. We always talked about an idea for a second one that I think is really, really funny. So I guess we’ll just see, but yes, there could be a second one.

As a culmination of everything we’ve been talking about, then, if you could direct any project of your choosing without any restrictions, what would it be and why would it be that?

I mean, my dream would be to do a reincarnation of Spider-Man, you know, to do my version of Spider-Man, that’s always something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s gonna happen. But one day, that’s the dream. I’m putting it up there on the board. I’m putting it into the universe. My high school yearbook quote was from Spider-Man, I my old passwords were sort of from Spider-Man, and maybe one day, you know, we’ll see.

They’re gonna make another one eventually, and they’ll need somebody to direct it.

They’re gonna make another one and they’re gonna need a director. So, hey guys, just putting my name into the universe. Just putting it out there.

I’ll put that out there into the world.

Thank you! I appreciate that.

The Out-Laws premieres on Netflix tomorrow, July 7.

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Scott Campbell
News, reviews, interviews. To paraphrase Keanu Reeves; Words. Lots of words.