These two L.I. natives draw material from their own lives and put it up on-screen.
Both men are revered storytellers. Here's what they had to say in separate interviews:
Was directing your wife and kids easier because of the established relationship, or harder?
It's more complicated because we are trying to accurately portray a lot of the obstacles we face in life. The stakes were high for making the movie work. If the movie was awful, I've embarrassed my entire family in a worldwide way. I felt that every day on the set.
How much of your real life relationship did you put into the film?
Paul [Rudd] is playing a Frankenstein monster combination of me and him at our worst. It's not exactly the feel of me and Leslie together. However, a lot of the issues Paul's character has are my issues. I am one to hide in the bathroom and look at Huffington Post for a half-hour while my wife is tracking my movements on Twitter.
What is it about the age 40 that freaks people out more than most ages?
It's probably because people think of it as the halfway point. It's the moment where, if we don't start taking good care of ourselves, our bodies are going to start breaking down. It's also the end of the time period when women are having babies. We aren't young enough to do something that important, which I think is a powerful moment for people.
What kind of impact did growing up on Long Island have on you?
I look back on it as an amazing place to grow up. I had an ideal situation in a nice neighborhood in Woodbury. We'd jump on our bikes after school and disappear until dinner time. It was an enormous amount of fun. I even washed dishes and was a busboy at East Side Comedy Club in Huntington when Eddie Murphy and Rosie O'Donnell used to come in. I was intimidated by how great they were. It was a magical time for me.
What did it feel like to be back in Valley Stream, where you shot your first film, "The Brothers McMullen"?
My neighborhood, my friends and the homes I spent my childhood in I have always looked back on with great nostalgia. We shot six houses down from where I lived in Valley Stream. I pictured the Fitzgerald clan living in my house where I grew up. It adds to the authenticity of the film.
This is your third film playing Mike McGlone's brother. Is there a natural chemistry between the two of you?
Sometimes you just get lucky and you have great chemistry with someone. We got along really well from day one. My only regret is that we haven't done it in 15 years. But we are going to shoot a sequel to "The Brothers McMullen" in 2014 to have it ready for 2015, marking the original film's 20th anniversary.
How are you able to draw name actors while keeping the budget low?
Wherever the actors got the bug to act, it wasn't from watching a horror movie. They got involved for the theatrical aspect of real actors playing real people in real situations. Each one wants a chance to explore real emotions, and you rarely get to do that in the film business today; it's either dopey comedies, horror films or acting against a green screen.
What do you want viewers to walk away from this film with?
A lot of times you see a family Christmas film that is just saccharin and sappy. Many times, they don't feel like real folks. I wanted to create a family that felt real. Christmas is about getting together with your family, forgiving, resolving issues and recognizing that they might be nuts, but they're maybe all you got.