As I watch my viewership for this feature steadily decline this month, I fearlessly and somewhat defiantly plod onwards with the Adam Sandler theme for May. So, yes. It’s basically more of the same silliness this week. Same guy. Same copious amounts of bullshitting around in front of a camera (and getting paid for it). Same review format. We’re. . .or rather, I am going to extract five more profound life lessons from the noble, the poetic, the damn-near Confuscian writings of Sandler. Prepare yourselves for another day of enlightenment here on TBT.
Today’s food for thought: Billy Madison.
Release: February 10, 1995
Just in case you are wondering: no, I will not make out with you.
You need to get that out of your head right now. We live in a society with rules for a reason. One does not simply go around making out with everyone they see in sight; that’s just not. . . you know, that’s just not how it works. Unfortunately, the entire planet can’t operate like one collective Hedonistic resort like Sandler’s Billy Madison thinks it might. At least, this would best explain his actions after he awkwardly put one of his female classmates on the spot by loudly declaring to the rest of the science lab that he wouldn’t demonstrate public displays of affection during class. A female classmate that’s about half his age. A female classmate that doesn’t want a thing to do with him.
I suppose that’s understandable. He was, after all, a spoilt-rotten child stuck in a grown man’s body, this Billy Madison guy. And when it comes to intelligence, he’s not entirely with the program. Although, he did enroll in “a program” of sorts, as part of a deal with his father. In order for Billy to have any shot at all of his father handing the reigns of his Fortune 500 company, Madison Hotels, over to him, Billy must return to school — early grade school, that is — and complete his education all the way through to senior year in high school to prove that he was competent enough to manage the hotel chain. Mr. Madison (Darren McGavin) admitted to Billy that he had to bribe all of his teachers to allow him to ‘pass’ when he was going through school for the first time. Thus, the ridiculously un-adjusted manchild played by a young and unruly Adam Sandler.
The challenge also meant having to de-throne the current successor to his father, a sniveling weasel named Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford) in a climactic battle of wits in a winner-take-all final competition, yet another quasi-condition of Billy’s graduation process. Given how Eric hated Billy with a passion, and that he also had a deep-seated dislike of the owner of the company himself, the day would prove to be quite the hurdle. Other obstacles presented themselves conveniently for Billy as he found himself struggling to catch up on everything he didn’t learn before, including learning how to. . . .love? Indeed, Miss Veronica Vaughn would become the apple of his pervy eye as Billy spent the allotted two weeks in the third grade before moving up in the world.
The film will never do anything to sway opinion for those who are firmly anti-Sandler, but the Billy Madison-Veronica Vaughn relationship turned out to be one of his better concoctions. There wasn’t much difference in physical size between the two nor was the age gap that drastic, yet Billy remained this incredibly small person for most of the film because of his profound social stifling growing up as daddy’s boy in the big mansion.
Life’s rough when you’re Billy Madison, so here are a few tips to keep a level head:
Recommendation: Billy Madison ranks up there among Sandler’s better films in his young career. It fits into what I consider the trio of Adam Sandler “classics” (to abuse the term): this, along with Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy. These three films don’t distinguish themselves a great deal from one another in terms of their style of comedy, but the key thing to note about them is that they were all actually funny. Recycled plot lines and jokes in today’s Sandler schtick run rampant, with no signs of the pandemic slowing down at all any time soon. Between his insanely immature Billy and the breathtaking Bridgette Wilson as Veronica Vaughn (not to mention a classic cameo from an always-welcomed Chris Farley), Sandler’s 1995 effort remains a favorite for many. This guy included.
Running Time: 88 mins.
Quoted: “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”
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