Happy Gilmore

Happy Gilmore photo starrating-3stars.jpg
Shooter McGavin: You’re in big trouble though, pal. I eat pieces of sh– like you for breakfast!

Happy Gilmore: [laughing] You eat pieces of sh– for breakfast?

Adam Sandler is Happy Gilmore, an unsuccessful ice hockey player with a powerful slapshot. After a challenge, he discovers he has a talent for golf. To be specific, he has an easy facility for driving a golf ball 400 yards. His putting, on the other hand, is horrible. Under the tutelage of club pro Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers), he joins a golf tournament. Happy hopes to win enough money to help out his grandmother whose house is about to be repossessed.

Sandler’s second major starring vehicle is his riff on 1980’s Caddyshack, another golf comedy. His idea of funny is to transplant the loud obnoxious environment of the hockey rink to the quiet, sophisticated atmosphere of the golf course. It’s clear Happy has an anger problem and he’s frequently given to losing his cool. The humor is lowbrow and a lot of it rests on Happy Gilmore’s boorish demeanor as contrasted with stuffed shirt Shooter McGavin, a villain embodied in full hissable glory by Christopher McDonald. There’s sort of an idiotic joy in seeing Happy’s aggressive behavior conflict with the civilized gold pros. A confrontation with Bob Barker of TV’s The Price is Right is a savage delight. But he doesn’t remain that way. As the plot develops, Happy becomes more likable. I think it’s relevant to point out that Happy begins as a flawed character, unable to control his temper. By managing his emotions and finding his “happy place” he finds success. Nice moral. It’s not as inspired as something like There’s Something About Mary from the same era. However Happy Gilmore has achieved a cult status and like all such films it improves with repeated viewings.

Note: Will Damron over at Papa Kenn Media was my inspiration for revisiting Happy Gilmore. He is examining vintage Sandler movies from the past. He prompted me to watch this so I could provide my own insight. Please check out his page as well.

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12 Responses to “Happy Gilmore”

  1. One of my favourite Adam Sandler films. I might have to revisit this myself!

  2. Well done Mark. An excellent and thoughtful take on this early Sandler film, that remains one of my favorites from his career. The movie came up at trivia last night, so I was already thinking that a re-watch was in order, but now your review really has me feeling inspired to see it again.

  3. Great review of a great film. *Sigh.* The days of GOOD Adam Sandler are so long ago.

  4. I remember seeing this years ago. I really enjoyed it. I think Ben Stiller’s character was hilarious. I wished they would have used him more. Seeing it again was fun, especially see Julie Bowen, had no idea it was her till reading the credits. Love her on “Modern Family”.

    • Julie Bowen looks so different now, but if anything she looks even better.

      I should’ve mentioned Ben Stiller as the nursing home orderly. He was funny.

      Grandma: Sir, can I trouble you for a glass of warm milk? It helps me go to sleep.
      Nursing Home Orderly: You can trouble me for a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up! Now, you will go to sleep! Or I will PUT you to sleep. Check out the name tag. You’re in MY world now, grandma!

  5. This is probably my favourite Adam Sandler film by a big margin. Not that I can compare it to the last 500 or films he made, because I never watched them! 🙂

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