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Caddyshack (1980)

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Score: 8/10

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: July 25th, 1980 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Harold Ramis Actors: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael O’Keefe, Bill Murray, Sarah Holcomb, Scott Colomby, Cindy Morgan

“C

addyshack” may be a smidgen outdated, with its catchy soundtrack and music by Kenny Loggins, but it still demonstrates an eye for superb comedic timing. Director Harold Ramis would write, direct, produce, and even star in several influential, important comedy works of the ‘80s, but it’s this envelope-pushing laugh-fest that kicked off his directing career. Although Dangerfield, Chase, and Murray could definitely use more screen time (their involvement was originally meant to be mere cameos), especially considering how much of the film is improvised, “Caddyshack” still smartly utilizes its cast. Succeeding on multiple levels, the film is also incredibly quotable, often being considered one of the all-time funniest comedies, with dozens of lines of dialogue ranking among the most memorable in cinema. Who knew golf could be so much fun?

Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe), a member of an impossibly large family, is preparing to disappoint his parents with news of failed scholarship opportunities. He’s doomed to find a career at the laborious lumberyard, but currently spends his time as a caddie at the exclusive Bushwood Country Club, contending with old people, drugs, fighting, his girlfriend Maggie (Sarah Holcomb), a lusty newcomer (Cindy Morgan), crazy partiers, and generally mischievous activities. When he learns of a caddie scholarship that could change his future, he determines to win a golf tournament and to suck up to Judge Smails (Ted Knight), the man who can recommend him for the funding. As events progress, a $40,000 illegal game of golf and a plastic-explosive-obsessed maintenance man fuel the climax.

Assistant greenskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) is a reclusive wacko with a fetish for older women, constantly muttering nasty things under his breath, charged with taking care of a destructive gopher plaguing the golf course (he’s got a six-year plan for eventually becoming head greenskeeper). Treating the rodent like the Vietcong, he wages a personal war that’s sure to cause more damage than an entire army of critters could unleash. Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) is a millionaire golfer who never keeps score and a philosopher with odd advice and random comments, and Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) is a wealthy investor with loud-mouthed jokes and crude sarcasm always at the ready. For these eccentric personas, it’s just an average day on the golf course.

The story itself is rather disjointed, with three characters all trying to achieve separate goals. The gags appear to have been written first, with the plot formed around various witty setups, much like every “Saturday Night Live” movie adaptation. The premise is simple, rarely interfering with the delivery of humor, as if in place just to get the actors to cross paths – the oddball characters are the constituents that quickly become the best parts of the pervasive nonsense. It’s infrequent for three vastly different comedians to have such fitting performances together without trampling on each other’s skits; here, they pull it off admirably. Complete with an iconic dancing gopher, hilarious dialogue, and edgy elements that would lead the way for raunchy teen comedies of the future, “Caddyshack” proves that irreverence toward everything can be gut-busting and that golf doesn’t have to be just for the elderly (though predominantly for the rich).

– Mike Massie

 



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