Raucous comedy “Grandma’s Boy” unabashedly mixes grannies, gamers, sex, drugs and booze in a span of 96 minutes, courtesy of Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison crew. And there’s one 77-year-old who says she’s happy to have been a part of the experience.
“I’m excited to be in an R-rated movie,” actress Doris Roberts (“Christmas Vacation,” TV’s “Everybody Loves Raymond”) proudly admitted. “Over 50 years in the business, I’ve never done that. [That’s going] on my résumé.”
In the film, out Friday, Roberts eases into the title role of Grandma Lilly, a sweet, doting nana who takes in her down-on-his-luck grandson Alex, played by Allen Covert. It’s the first leading role for Happy Madison mainstay Covert (“The Longest Yard,” “The Waterboy,” etc.), who is also one of the project’s writers and producers.
Alex, who has the seemingly sweet gig of testing video games for a living, gets booted from his apartment after his roommate squanders their rent money on Filipino hookers. After that fiasco, he’s forced to move in with his grandmother. The story was inspired by Covert’s all-too-real experience of living with his grandmother while helping his father recover from surgery.
“There would be nights I’d come home and it’d be like I was back in high school, trying to sneak into the house. I was like, ’What am I doing? I’m 35 years old!’ ” Covert recalled.
To make matters more complicated, Alex has to share the place with Lilly’s two quirky roommates, the overly medicated and dim-witted Bea (Shirley Knight) and the racy, sex-starved Grace (Shirley Jones). He-llo, Mrs. Robinson!
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The roles are quite a departure for the trio of seasoned actresses, all of whom have roughly 50 years of acting experience and a number of Emmys, Oscars and Tonys to their names. Roberts just wrapped a nine-year stint on “Raymond”; Knight is a veteran of the stage and screen and has worked with renowned directors like Francis Ford Coppola; and Jones is perhaps best known as the wholesome matriarch on “The Partridge Family.”
So why the plunge off the deep end?
“We wanted to prove that age had nothing to do with it,” Roberts said, grinning.
“At this age, you want to do all kinds of exciting things, so whatever comes that [fits that], I’ll take a hold of it,” Jones added, “and I’m certainly not Mrs. Partridge in this movie.”
These certainly aren’t your typical, run-of-the-mill grannies, kids. For example, in a scene that will give a new meaning to the term “tea party,” Lilly borrows some “tea” from Alex’s tin and brews a pot for the ladies that’s laced with marijuana.
“We all get stoned out of our gourds,” Roberts said of the scene.
“We knew the ladies had to get stoned and it wasn’t going to be them smoking a joint,” explained Covert, who had to think up a more imaginative way to get the drug into their system.
Knight, whose character is always zoned out on her limitless supply of prescription pills, nabbed her role after recanting a far-out story of her youth to 27-year-old director Nicholaus Goossen. “They asked me if I had ever taken drugs and I said, ’You know, I am from the ’60s,’ ” Knight said.
Covert and his writing partners, Barry Wernick and Nick Swardson, wanted to push the film’s R rating as far as it could go (see “When The Boss — Adam Sandler — Is Away, Hilarity Ensues On ’Nana’s Boy’ Set”). “We said, ’Let’s see how far we can get before they say, “Actually, that’s like NC-17,” ’ ” Covert said.
As for the ladies, they say they were game for anything — even if their friends and family members weren’t quite so prepared for their saucy new roles.
“My daughter saw it with me in New York and at one point, she turned to me and said, ’Mom, did you even read the script?’ ” Knight said.
Jones remembers a more welcoming response. “I was in an airport about a week ago and this 20-year-old guy came up to me and I thought he was going to say he just saw ’The Partridge Family,’ but instead he said, ’I just saw the preview for ’Grandma’s Boy’ and you’re hot!’ I said, ’Oh, really?’ ”
Meanwhile, Roberts says she won’t be taking her grandchildren to see the movie anytime soon. “They’re not seeing it until they’re 50.”
“And then they still probably won’t be ready for it,” Knight added.
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