There was a palpable sense of excitement in the small town of Essex, Massachusetts in the summer of 2009. In June, we learned that the cast and crew of “Grown Ups” was visiting our small town and shooting several scenes from June 22 to June 26. What were most of us really excited about? The possibility of catching a glimpse of Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and the rest of the gang certainly ranked high on the list.
The scenes were shot at a local restaurant favorite, Woodman’s. Our family drove by the restaurant several times, desperately hoping to see a famous celebrity or perhaps even some of the filming being done. However, all we saw were crew members and the large windows that could have given us a peek at the shooting were covered with black tarps (they were apparently shooting a night scene).
I did eventually end up seeing Mr. Sandler, as the house in which he was staying in nearby Gloucester used to be owned by a friend of my family. The level of excitement at seeing him drive by us was very high – no matter the age, everyone who knew the actors (and even those who didn’t) were ecstatic about their presence. There was just a buzz around the whole town during the days the filmmakers were here. Essex came alive.
The cast and crew were very gracious to us locals. Pictures of Sandler, Kevin James, and Maya Rudolph mingling with restaurant-goers and owners can be seen hanging on the walls of various eating establishments in both Essex and Gloucester.
The crew, too, was very friendly, and everyone was excited that there was a call for extras to appear in the movie. Locals got involved in that, and we all were anticipating the release of the film – we wanted to see the props that businesses donated, the extras who we knew personally, and the building that so many of us have visited for great food. Few of us will ever forget that week where Hollywood visited our humble hometown.