The Grown Ups have come to town, and they are in the process of thrilling and transforming both Marblehead and Swampscott.
The crew for Adam Sandler's "Grown Ups 2" took over the Swampscott MBTA station on Thursday. An entire commuter train spent hours arriving and departing, moving backward and forward, over and over again, while a crowd of hopeful stargazers watched from across the street. (Regular runs were shunted to the other track.)
If there was acting going on, it was happening out of sight, behind the station house.
Nevertheless, crew member Jack Patrick, a film student from the University of Southern California, walked along the street cheerfully telling anyone who dared raise his cellphone, "No pictures of the set, please."
"I saw (actor) David Spade," Erin Pelikhov of Marblehead said as she hurried away. She hadn't seen Sandler but shrugged, "I have to go to work now. I saw one person, and that was enough."
Since the crews arrived on the North Shore, Swampscott and Marblehead have become a giant movie set with yellow signs all over both towns telling cast and crew where to go and where to park. The production's fleet of trailers is marshaled at the former Temple Israel, now owned by the town of Swampscott.
A lot of outdoor filming is planned in Marblehead, at the middle school, Gatchell Park, the Old Town House and the police station, which will be disguised as a registry of motor vehicles.
In Swampscott, shooting is also planned at the middle school and in a "tent" on Phillips Park. This, however, is no pup tent. This is the same structure that Marblehead declined to host on its football field — a temporary soundstage, 150 feet by 250 feet, formed by stacking weighted, oceangoing freight containers one atop the other to a height of three.
The tent part comes last, after which they construct a tennis court and dig an entire swimming pool within.
"The scenes that go on in the tent are night scenes," Selectman Jill Sullivan said. "They did that because they didn't want to film at night in somebody's neighborhood." The grounds, including a secondary field, are meant to be put back exactly as before, if not better.
The town will receive nearly $250,000 for the use of its property.
Makeup in the mansion
Marblehead is also enjoying some of that Hollywood bounty, with Columbia Pictures dedicating $30,000 to the Old Town House. The Marblehead Museum & Historical Society found itself in the right place last Tuesday when "Grown Ups 2" decided to shoot a charity car wash scene across the street alongside the Lee Mansion on Washington Street.
The production rented the museum's front room as a place to do makeup and hairstyling. Before that, curator Karen MacInnis said, about 500 people showed up to watch at 6:45 in the morning.
Male and female cheerleaders were featured, and MacInnis was surprised by the extraordinarily short and tight white pants the men wore.
"It is an Adam Sandler movie," she reasoned.
She found herself chatting Marblehead history with actor Will Forte, who was covered between scenes in a robe.
At one point, she laughed at the absurdity of it, saying, "You're asking me all these serious questions, and I know what you have on under that robe."
Swampscott resident Alyssia Litchfield auditioned and won a part as one of the cheerleaders. She even got a few lines: "Come and get a car wash!"
"It was great," the part-time model said. "Really fun and exciting." At 25, Litchfield is also a mom and a bookkeeper for a Boston dentist. As others have unfailingly said, she confirmed that Sandler comes across as friendly and considerate.
Marblehead Realtor Jack Attridge noted that he helped several of the stars find houses to live in while the movie is made, including Sandler, Kevin James, Salma Hayak and Chris Rock. He dealt with Rock personally and found him "a regular guy."
A boost for business
Meanwhile, the film promises to give an economic boost to the region.
Various businesses are getting a welcomed shot of prosperity, Attridge said. Bikes were ordered at Marblehead Cycle. Toys came from Mud Puddle Toys. Movie people are eating at places like the Three Cod Tavern.
"Marblehead can really use something like this now," Attridge said.
The company actually checked before coming, said Ann Marie Casey of the Chamber of Commerce, to make sure that Evan's Deli was still in business. The eatery was a favorite when they were here for "Grown Ups" in 2009.
"We're all feeling very positive about this," Casey said.
The feeling is shared by the crew.
Andrew Gibson of Elizabeth, Maine, is part of the film's location department, and he finds regular employment with companies coming to New England.
"This is a great place to work," he said. "The people have been great. Swampscott and Marblehead have been awesome. And the place is absolutely beautiful."
The shoot is expected to end in July. There will be traffic tie-ups and disruption. So far, however, they've been far outweighed by the joy and excitement of Hollywood coming to town.