Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
What if in DIE HARD, it wasn’t John McClane who saved the hostages in the Nakatomi Building, but a bunch of stoner janitors instead? What would that look like? Netflix’s newest film, GAME OVER, MAN!, has those answers.
The uproarious feature film is the directorial debut of WORKAHOLICS co-creator Kyle Newacheck, starring the other three co-creators of the hugely popular Comedy Central series, Anders Holm, Adam Devine and Blake Anderson. In the action-comedy, three besties – Alexxx (Devine), Darren (Holm) and “Baby Dunks” (Anderson) – are attempting to get their videogame financed when their benefactor (Utkarsh Ambudkar) is taken hostage by a group of terrorists. Hijinks and hilarity ensues.
At the film’s recent Los Angeles press day, I spoke with Newacheck about everything from fulfilling lifelong dreams, to the HOME ALONE references (right down to the casting of Daniel Stern), to – eat your heart out Barbara Walters – fake and real stunt schlongs.
I loved this premise. I’m curious how the ball got rolling on it.
The way that four of us decided on what kind of movie we wanted to make came from a mutual love of DIE HARD. We found ourselves quoting it all the time and watching it when we wanted to bond. We saw LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD all together. We thought it would be so funny to put these three guys and their dynamics to the role of John McClane. We wrote it as we were making our television show so it was always fun to have that little departure where these guys were going to play action stars. We wrote a couple drafts and got Seth Rogen and his company, Point Grey, were stoked on us. Scott Rudin and Eli Bush loved us and wanted to work with us, so they teamed up and got us. We found Netflix and they were like, ‘let’s make this!’
How handy is it to have that established shorthand with these guys, so that on set you could get the funniest take?
I think it’s super handy to know what these guys are capable of and to do my part in pushing them to that level. It’s very helpful. I’ve known Blake since we were eight-years-old. I’ve known Adam for fifteen years. I’ve known Anders for thirteen years. I know where their comedy is. I edited them before I directed them. I know where their moves are.
Was Shaggy always going to be the featured musical guest?
It’s funny you say that because the answer is yes. It was always Shaggy. He was the first piece of casting – the first person to say yes besides the three guys. It’s really spiritual actually.
There’s lots of other cameos in here. I don’t want to get into specifics, because I don’t want to spoil them, but how did you manage to bring them all together? Is it like, “Hey! We’re here. Drop by!”
Basically. It was a little challenging because we shot in Vancouver so we had to get people up to Vancouver. It was who do we love and who do we want to hang out with for a day. Also who will come up here to play themselves. But the people who ended up getting I’m very, very, very excited about.
You don’t expect some of them to appear so late into the film either. That was an unexpected surprise too.
Oh yeah. Totally. I know who you’re talking about. He rolled up and was just there. Immediately I was like, ‘Cool! You’re here! Let’s put you in zip ties and a bunch of hostages. I’m going to throw a camera in your face.’ It was so fast and he just killed it.
Did the HOME ALONE reference and stunt come before or after Daniel Stern’s casting?
Before. Well, that’s actually kinda tough. It did come before we cast Daniel Stern, but we had worked with Daniel Stern. Anders wrote the HOME ALONE zip line thing and we knew Daniel because he came out and did WORKAHOLICS. He came and read the part at the table read. At that point, it was like, this is Daniel Stern’s. Nobody else but Daniel. Danny boy.
How many takes was it for him to make his apple go into the trash can? And that’s not a euphemism.
That was [laughs] very real. I think he did it on take three. We were pushed for time that day. The sun was going down and he just did it. I was like, ‘Thank you!’ I mean, we could’ve been there for an hour trying to get this. I had my visual effects team on standby just so that I could do it and get out. But then he got it in three! Moving on!
Now we come to my “Eat your heart out Barbara Walters” portion of this interview. I wanted to know how many meetings there were about the size of Danny’s penis that gets cut off. You want it to read on camera, but don’t want it to be like Boogie Nights. Or do you?
Ultimately it was a story thing that made me to have it be a little bigger. Also Danny asked for a big one. He said, ‘This guy has to have a big one, right?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know. Sure. Whatever.’ The way that it’s used at the end of the movie played a huge factor in determining the size because it had to serve a purpose. That’s what it boiled down to. It was my idea to make it uncircumcised because I just feel like there’s not a lot of [laughs] uncircumcised representation. We need to represent for every penis – and I knew Adam was cut so we have the other.
Adam Devine has a pants-less, underwear-less sequence. Tell me about him doing stunts without much physical coverage. Ya’ know, free-ballin’.
Adam just does it. I lived with Adam for seven years. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s never been shy about his penis. So, to me, this is only fitting. This whole idea was written in his Hollywood biography years ago. [Laughs]. It’s not an easy task. It’s not like, you show your wiener and you’re done.
Exactly! This is what I’m saying.
It’s you show your wiener and it’s two days. So you have to be ready to be naked for two days. There’s a shot where we see the entire package – every single thing that you’re not supposed to see on Adam. We see it in the movie. I’ve never seen a shot like that in a comedy and I’m very proud of the boundaries that we’ve broken with Adam’s penis.
There’s a scene where Alexxx throws food into “the Bey’s” mouth and catches it. The dog is right there. Did the dog try to eat it – and did you have to get the food approved for dogs?
Always there’s a dog person on set. There was a representative for the dog. That was an improv so we didn’t need to get it checked. We just checked it on set. The guy was like, ‘It’s fine.’ We didn’t want little Rumble eating that food, but he wasn’t better at catching it in his mouth than “the Bey.”
You use Metallica’s “Fuel” in one of the scenes. They can sometimes be tight with their music rights. Was it the Bay Area connection that go you an in?
I don’t think we used any real connections on that unless our music supervisor, Jennifer Pyken, pulled from that. As long as it was cleared we were good to go. We used that on set, Devine was busting through the door, singing ‘Gimme fuel! Gimme fire!’ My editor, Evan Henke, saw that in the dailies and was like, ‘Oh. We’re using that.’ He grabbed the cue from the way Alexxx felt as he was coming through the door.
Were there any fallacies you discovered making an action film that you didn’t know before?
I kind of had an idea what was going to be tough to shoot from a technical standpoint. Like the zip line sequence – that was tough. I love it. I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker so I find the challenges to be refreshing. That’s what my mind likes to do is figure out how to safely carve someone’s face off. Thinking about how to do that where nobody’s gonna get hurt. I love that stuff. It’s magic!
GAME OVER, MAN! is released on Netflix on March 23.
Header photo: Adam Devine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson in GAME OVER, MAN! Courtesy of Netflix.