Happy Gilmore

Happy Gilmore ★★★½

You're gonna die, CLOWN!!!

Upon a long overdue rewatch and looking back at the state of public opinion on Sandler's legacy, despite the immature reputation of Adam Sandler's 90's comedies, I really think that this specific movie is a comparably straightforward comedy crowd pleaser. Adam Sandler's not for everyone, I get it. Like Jim Carrey, he's a capable actor in either a serious or funny format, but sometimes he just doesn't have an off switch and he's never afraid to plumb the most cringe-worthy depths of immaturity for a cheap laugh. For ME, that's not really a problem in evaluating a comedy actor doing a comedy film, but you guys do you. We do get one "tap-tap-tap-aroo!" but his distinct high-pitched gibberish and crazy noises that tend to turn away more serious/stern viewers and some of the pre-Gen X and pre-Millennial viewers are mostly extinct in this film. We are treated to a protagonist with some anger management issues, but one that is otherwise fairly admirable. Gilmore is a character who has only the most noble intentions and is really easy to get behind. Here's the thing: Director Dennis Dugan and Adam Sandler (along with a funny and memorable douchebag heel turn from Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin) managed to make golf fun. Yeah, Caddyshack did that first, but still, if that's not an achievement, I don't know what is.

In Happy Gilmore, Sandler plays a failing yet determined wannabe hockey player who finds he has a knack for driving the golf ball, despite having no interest in the sport. Kind-hearted, but rough around the edges, his character makes a splash on the golf scene with his aggressive and lowbrow antics. His aim is to win money from pro tournaments to help buy back his grandma's repossessed home, since Grandma thinks she's too good to pay taxes, or something. The plot's definitely weak, contrived and purely silly, even by 90's comedy standards, but it mostly serves its purpose as a vehicle for Sandler and delivers some great cameos from some real life celebrities. Some genuinely funny lines and performances from supporting antagonists such as the aforementioned Shooter McGavin and Ben Stiller's hilarious take on an abusive senior home orderly help make this movie memorable and give it some rewatch value. Carl Weathers, Frances Bay and Julie Bowen (who is almost unrecognizable here and somehow looks... older(?) than on Modern Family) provide amiable supporting characters.

The movie is completely light (besides one jarring and unnecessary dark moment in the middle of the movie that very quickly moves on tonally), predictable and harmless comedy fare. It's also pretty slight and doesn't really leave you with much emotion for better or worse upon the ending, but it's good for some laughs while watching. I guess I could see strong anti-Sandler viewers hating it, but it's a pretty conventional, yet funny, comedy that doesn't go as wild, off the rails and immaturely surreal and creative as something like Billy Madison. For me, that's somewhat of a limiting factor, but for the general audience of viewers, that's likely going to make this a more agreeable, consistent and digestible watch for more people, on average. This is why Happy Gilmore is likely the more publicly beloved and higher rated of the two closely released films. Both are simple, light comedies with silly plots, but I think Happy Gilmore plays things a little more safely and conventionally. The laughs here are more consistent and more streamlined, if a bit more low-key. It's less uproariously quotable, but there's less cringe mixed in, too. Overall, it's a pleasant comedy experience with a forgettable plot, but memorable characters and comedic pieces. My rating: 3.5 out of 5 // 7 out of 10 Subway-for-life cards. -KF

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