Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy Gilmore - 1996

"Happy Gilmore" - 1996
Dir. by Dennis Dugan - 1 hr. 32 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

I'm not much for New Year's Eve celebrations; instead of "Happy New Year," I watched "Happy Gilmore."  It's not really that different to watch familiar rituals to celebrate a milestone, I just prefer to watch Bob Barker drop Adam Sandler to watching a disco ball drop.  I think "Happy Gilmore" is one of those films that every guy over a certain age has seen, probably more than once.  It's like mashed potatoes and meatloaf; comedic comfort food that's actually aged reasonably well.

Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) is a wannabe hockey player who routinely gets cut at the open tryouts every year, mostly because he can't skate.  Hockey is the one thing on his mind, and pretty much the only thing that keep Happy from acting like a homicidal maniac (pretty much, because he admits that he took off his skate and tried to stab a guy with the blade once).  As it turns out, his Grandma (Frances Bay) has fallen behind on her taxes, and is going to lose her house unless a considerable sum of money is raised, and in the meantime, she has to stay in nursing home run by fu-manchu'd taskmaster, Hal (Ben Stiller).  It turns out that Happy has a tremendous ability to drive a golf ball, and he ends up on the pro tour after winning a pro/am tournament, where he butts heads with Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald).

There are a lot of reasons to dismiss "Happy Gilmore" and it's star, Adam Sandler, and many people were happy to do so when it came out.  I will grant that Sandler yells a lot, and generally provokes a 100% love or 100% hate reaction from people.  The film is visually very straight-forward (which is a nice way of saying that it's rudimentary).  There's little nuance to anything.  But, when you've got a fist-fight with Bob Barker, that doesn't matter much.  There's a ton of funny moments, some endlessly quoted.

And funny trumps everything, especially in a comedy.  If you watched some of Bill Murray's earliest films (like "Meatballs," in particular), you're not getting a finished product.  This is a rough-around-the-edges product, a bunch of funny ideas jammed together under the umbrella of a classic "save the house" plot.  This isn't really an "actor" movie, nor do any of the other characters exist for plot purposes beyond Shooter McGavin (who is a fantastically sleazy asshat of a man) and the girl, Virginia (Julie Bowen), who exists to be the girl in the movie.

You may hate Adam Sandler and his films and his goofy face and annoying voice, but this is the real deal.  It's not smoothed out, the film doesn't really strive for any kind of pacing or cleverness, it's just Sandler doing what he does.  There are plenty of people who hate that.  And others who have come to hate that.  But there's also a ton of people who love it, and would stop flipping channels the second they came across "Happy Gilmore."  Only you know where you fall on that continuum, but I like re-watching "Happy" every so often.

3 / 5 - Streaming

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