Funnyman actor Kevin James (of Grownups and King of Queens) and UFC heavyweight champion Bas Rutten are in the Mile High City to promote their new film, Here Comes the Boom. When a Boston school administration threatens to cut the music program in a desperate attempt to make budget, a has-been teacher-of-the-year volunteers to raise the money to keep it around. The plan? Teacher Scott Voss (Kevin James) trys his college wrestling experience in the Mixed Martial Arts UFC cage.

The movie’s humor aside, we’re also in a time period when teachers are facing major financial cuts in the classroom. We talked with James about how making this movie impacted his views on the education crisis.

5280: The teacher in the movie takes a lackluster approach to his class. Is that what you see in American schools?

Kevin James: It’s pretty horrible. The reason I wanted to write this was because I had great teachers back then. They seem to be lacking now. I had some great teachers that inspired me in class and to be a good person. What teachers teach does not end when school ends—you carry it for life. Kids are like wet cement drying, and these teachers get to shape them. In making this movie, I wanted to salute the good teachers and wake the not-so-good ones up.

5280: Do you remember having great teachers as a kid?

KJ: One of teachers is in the movie, and I named the principal in the movie after a teacher. I had some really good ones. You know when you are struggling as a kid and you need a little help here or there? [The good teachers] give it to you. They don’t make you feel like an outsider. Teachers have to be aware of what’s going on, how kids are treating other kids. They have to be in tune to that kind of stuff. To me, that’s a great teacher.

The film opens to the public nationwide on October 12.