The Wrong Missy starring David Spade and Laura Lapkus debuted on Netflix last week. It is the latest film from Happy Madison Productions and is centered around an average Joe named Tim Morris (David Spade) who is just trying to find the love of his life. After going on a horrible blind date with Missy (Lauren Lapkus), he decides to take a step back from the dating scene. A few months later, Tim meets another girl named Missy while at the airport. Missy and Tim end up hitting it off and exchange numbers so that they can keep in touch. Tim and Missy begin to text regularly and upon learning that his company is having a corporate retreat in Hawaii, he takes a chance and invites Missy to join him. Missy happily accepts but unfortunately for Tim, it turns out that he invited the wrong Missy.
About a week and a half ago, I spoke with director Tyler Spindel about the film and what is was like to be part of the Happy Madison team. We talked about everything from what it was like to work with Adam Sandler to how he became a director. It was a fun and lively conversation that can be read in its entirety below.
Scott Menzel: Hi Tyler, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me today.
Tyler Spindel: Of course. I’m excited.
Scott Menzel: So, I got the chance to watch the film and it is a very much a Happy Madison production.There is quite an audience for Happy Madison as proven over the years. I think Sandler and company, as I like to call them, have really made a career out of this for about two decades. So, I want to talk a little bit about your involvement, not just about this film, but how you got your start with the Happy Madison family? Because I’ve noticed that a big chunk of your filmography has been in various Happy Madison films in different roles, like from working on the set to directing feature length films.
Tyler Spindel: Well, I guess to cut to the chase, Adam’s my uncle so I’ve known him since I was a baby. So, that’s how I got in. But I started out doing standup and thought I wanted to be an actor. But it’s funny, I was doing standup for quite a while and I was okay at it, but I never was crushing like the other guys. I had this one joke that I knew was funny and I kept doing it and I kept doing it and it was eating it and eating it and eating it, and then I gave it to a buddy of mine who’s a pretty good comedian and he used it, and he just annihilated with the same exact joke. So, I was like, “Oh, maybe I should stick to writing and maybe I should try something behind the camera.”
Adam has been extremely supportive and gracious to give me so many opportunities. But before that I was doing a lot of web shorts. I did a short film with T.J. Miller that won at a bunch of festivals. I did the show Chelsea Lately and was doing commercials. I just kind of did other stuff, and then he was really kind enough to give me a shot to work for him and it has been fantastic.
Scott Menzel: I’m going to fully admit because I’m not going to be like one of those people who say, “Oh, yeah. I knew.” Because I did not know that you were related. But that explains all of your involvement. So, going off that, can you talk a little bit about what it’s like to actually work with family? Because you also worked with Adam’s wife on this one too.
Tyler Spindel: I mean, honestly it’s easier because you have such a shorthand and you don’t have to worry about sugarcoating anything. You can both tell each other how you feel. It’s good. In a weird way, it’s easier because you don’t have to worry so much. You just know you’re family, you can say whatever you want and that’s okay.
Scott Menzel: I can totally see your point on that. I’m very curious to ask you about working with David Spade. This is not the first time that you’ve worked with him. You’ve worked with him many times over the years. What is it about him that makes him just so damn charismatic and likable on-screen?
Tyler Spindel: Well, listen, I mean a lot of it is just coming from who he is, because he is a really good and nice guy, so I think that shines through. But what I think is cool about Spade is that he can play two completely different characters. In the previous movie that I did with him, Father of the Year, he’s such a crazy, kooky, silly character and in some sense is the butt of the joke. And, now in this movie, he’s very straight-laced and all he’s doing is reacting to this crazy force of nature that is Missy. But he’s awesome. He’s just so malleable and he makes anything funny. What’s cool about this role is he made really what’s not a funny role, funny. So, I think he’s really talented.
Scott Menzel: I liked his performance because I grew up watching Sandler, Spade, Farley, Hartman, and all those guys. That was my childhood and I admired them and I loved them. But I feel like Spade was always great at being the sarcastic guy. That was what he was best known for too with films like Tommy Boy and Black Sheep and all that stuff. It was a nice change of pace to see him in this role where he was more of, like you said, the straight guy. A little bit more fearful and not as sarcastic or snarky as he usually is. And he really pulled it off. I thought he did a great job of pulling off the more toned-down version of his personality.
Tyler Spindel: Yeah. If you ever get to know Spade you see that he is just a really nice and normal guy. I think it is why it worked so well.
Scott Menzel: As for Lauren Lapkus, who I love in a lot of smaller independent films like The Unicorn. What was it like working with her? And how the hell did you get her to say some of those lines that she was saying? Because there were some of them that I just couldn’t believe.
Tyler Spindel: Some of the lines were in the script, but some of the lines were her improv. She’s really funny. I mean, she’s just such a versatile actress in both just doing the script and improv that she just really expands on whatever’s there and can make it her own. There were a lot of times she could make a not funny line funny too, just like Spade. The cool thing about her is that we had writers on set and we had two or three joke writers, and they would write a bunch of content. We would basically do the script two or three times, and then I’d be like, “All right, do you guys have any alternative lines for her to try?” They would go in there and they would pitch her three or four different lines and she is so smart that she would just essentially hear them once, and then we’d roll the cameras and she would hit each line perfectly with the right timing every time. I’ve never seen anybody else do it like that. She’s just really smart.
Scott Menzel: I totally can see that. A question that pertains to you specifically, there are a lot of comedic moments, and with comedic moments you have to set up the scene a certain way in order for the joke to land and be effective. What was the most difficult scene for you to make sure that that joke landed the way you wanted it too?
Tyler Spindel: Oh. I think maybe the hardest scene was the scene where they’re arguing right before the sinkhole, right before she falls into the sinkhole. Because sometimes when people are truly … I don’t know, there was such real anger between them, it’s always a fine line, like what’s funny, what’s too angry, when are people just going to be on edge as opposed to laughing, yet at the same time you want the emotion of the scene to come through because it was an important moment of the movie. So, that was something we really had to mess around with on set with a couple different tones of how they were doing it towards each other because we wanted the scene to be funny at the same time. A couple times it felt too light and then it just felt like it might undercut the movie a little bit. So, that was a tricky one.
Scott Menzel: Going back to the cast. There is no secret that there’s been a lot of the same faces that pop up over and over again throughout the past two decades with various films under the Happy Madison banner. What is that like as a filmmaker to incorporate these same actors into multiple projects that you’ve worked on?
Tyler Spindel: Well, the reason you want to bring them together is because they already have such great built-in chemistry. If you look at Spade and Swardson, they are constantly doing jabs at each other over Instagram and they’re best buddies. So, when you just put two guys like that together on camera it just works better. It’s just a lot easier. You don’t have to worry about building chemistry through a shoot. Day one they’re just good. Obviously Spade and Schneider they go back to SNL days. It’s just when you use the same guys, you know they work well off each other. Because comedy, sometimes you can put two really funny people together but if their styles don’t mesh it doesn’t work. So, that’s the great thing about using the same troupe. Does that answer the question?
Scott Menzel: That was perfect. What has it been like for you as a filmmaker to work with a studio like Netflix?
Tyler Spindel: Honestly, I got to tell you it’s awesome because they give you so much freedom. I mean, it’s really unlike any other place I’ve ever worked at. The creativity of what you’re allowed to do is pretty unparalleled. And they’re really smart, like our executive was just a really, really smart, smart guy. It’s cool, like they’re marketing team all the trailers they cut were amazing. I don’t know. They somehow got every top-shelf person in the industry. It’s really fantastic. Honestly, we’re very lucky to be in business with them.
Scott Menzel: I think they are really leading the charge. The more and more content that I’ve been watching from them especially now because of quarantine, I’ve been watching a lot more films and shows that they have put out. I usually only watch movies, but I’ve been watching a lot of their series now. And I’m kind of like, “Wow! They are fucking blowing the competition out of the water with their content.” It’s pretty incredible. So, all of those involves with Happy Madison are very lucky. I’m glad to hear you say creative freedom because I think that is the most important thing as an artist.
Tyler Spindel: Oh, yeah it’s truly unparalleled. I don’t know if there’s another studio like it. It’s really great.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. So, I won’t take up too much more of your time but I did want to ask what do you have coming down the pipe next? Anything exciting?
Tyler Spindel: I’m finishing up a script right now that’s a little more of a Indie character piece that I want to do next. So, hopefully once the current health situation is a little more under control we can get into that. But it’s a little bit of a change of tone from my last few movies, a little more serious and still funny, but I’m just going to try something with a slightly different tone next.
Scott Menzel: Awesome. Well, thank you very much, Tyler. I really do appreciate it. Lots of success and continued success. I hope people enjoy the film and get a kick out of it.
Tyler Spindel: You too. Well, thank you so much and appreciate your time. I hope you have a great day.