Okay, so I admit it’s not quite golf season yet. However it has been ‘good movie’ season for a couple of weeks now so I think it’s time we feature a quality comedy in this month’s batch of TBTs. And you might as well throw in the very compelling reason that this comes very close to being this blogger’s favorite comedy ever. Also, having seen Hot Tub Time Machine over Christmas I was painfully reminded of how much the film industry misses Chevy Chase as a comedian. Saw him in that thing (forgetting he was in it) and had trouble recognizing him. It’s time to scrub that image from my memory by commemorating his excellent work in
Today’s food for thought: Caddyshack.
Harassing gophers and golfers alike since: July 25, 1980
I’m not really sure whose movie this is. The gopher’s? Carl Spackler’s? Judge Smails’? This was actually the late Harold Ramis’ directorial debut, but with the way Rodney Dangerfield takes the luxurious golf resort by storm you’d think it was his own work he felt comfortable improvising over.
A tough pill to swallow, knowing we live in an era without Ramis now and that his infectious sense of humor isn’t likely to be duplicated anytime soon. But he did leave us several great gifts behind for us to cherish, and this is certainly one of them. A zany comedy stuffed to the brim with memorable characters, strange plot developments and absurd sight gags, Caddyshack freewheels its way from one silly scene to another, incidentally weaving a timeless tale about “the snobs versus the slobs” in the process. Golf season has never been this much fun; I don’t care how great it was speculating whether it was a car accident or a neglected wife that gave Tiger those scratches on his face in 2009.
Danny (Michael O’Keefe) needs a part-time job to save up money for college. He wants to be a caddy at Bushwood. So he becomes one. He wants to impress the club owner, and he ends up sleeping with Smails’ promiscuous daughter Lacey (Cindy Morgan). (Whoops.) At the end of the day though Danny just wants to be a good person and maybe even a father, so he makes it all up to the girl he’s actually dating, Maggie (Sarah Holcomb), when he admits to her that caddying isn’t all he’s been doing around Bushwood.
While on the grounds Danny falls under the tutelage of one Ty Webb (Chase), who helps him less with his real-world concerns as he does boost his confidence. Ty is a good guy and a better golfer, who could care less about the tradition of this so-esteemed white-people-only resort. Ty is there for the booze, the babes and the. . . wait, who the eff is this new guy?!
Al Czervik (Dangerfield) arrives with a golf bag the size of Africa and a brand new ‘tude to awaken the crotchety, ostensibly whites-only golf club from its comatose state of stuffy traditionalism. A cantankerous, boisterous personality, Al seeks primarily to irritate everyone named Judge Smails. He accomplishes this through a series of hijinks that understandably upset the overbearing, silver-haired braggart:
- consistent insults, ranging from his disproval of golf attire to him hitting on Judge’s wife, implying she “must have been something before electricity.”
- his obnoxious presence on the golf course (party on the ninth hole, anyone?)
- sinking Smail’s beloved schooner during its christening
- claiming he’s not interested in becoming a member of Bushwood, but rather someone who’s looking at the property in terms of development for potential condominiums
But this isn’t about Judge, this isn’t about Al — hell, this isn’t even about Danny and his girlfriend who is so Irish it hurts. This story boils down to a psychological battle between a varmint and groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray). Carl had been doing a swell job of making sure Bushwood was in as fine a form as it can be, whilst maintaining his own personal economy, which consisted of extensive supplies of weed, alcohol and self-loathing. The guy’s a hero. But that was before the gopher got inside his head. Obsessed with maintaining the grounds, Carl goes about trying to keep pests away from the greens, and by pests I do mean ridiculously bad CGI-ed gophers who scurry through underground tunnels only to resurface at another hole in time to bust out the cutest little gopher dance that you ever did see.
Caddyshack is a rather giddy and silly film. It’s also a comedy classic. Amongst the raucous set presence of outlandish comedian Rodney Dangerfield serving up ample doses of crazy in each of his scenes (a scene-stealer if there ever was one), Chevy Chase’s nonchalance as resident pro golfer — not to be believed either, which makes it even better if you ask me — and the drama that unfolds between Bill Murray and a goddamn gopher, rests a true Harold Ramis test piece. We miss you dearly, Mr. Ramis. Golf courses just haven’t been nearly as humorous since you left us.
I don’t care how fun it is to make fun of Tiger Woods ever since his little “accident” six years ago. I only wish you had written that script . . .
Recommendation: Would it be just too obvious to state that you don’t have to be a golfer to appreciate Caddyshack? Yeah, okay, maybe. Perhaps what Caddyshack should be recommended for is in how it so cleverly and effectively subverts the sport as a stuck-up culture.
Running Time: 98 mins.
TBTrivia: Chevy Chase and Bill Murray could not stand one another ever since some stuff went down on Saturday Night Live back in the day. They only have one scene together in the entire film, during a scene that was scripted on the fly over a lunch one afternoon in which Ty drives a ball through Carl’s ramshackle house windows. The scene they share is perhaps one of the best in the entire film, in my eyes.
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