Happy Gilmore (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I can't say that I'm much of an Adam Sandler fan, but I have to disagree with the critics who dumped on this movie. Despite Sandler's oft-irritating mannerisms like the highly dreaded baby voice, and despite an obsession with product placement (the entire film is practically a Subway commercial), this is actually a funny movie, in fact one of the funniest of the lowbrow slapstick comedies. Sandler plays a guy whose dream is to play professional ice hockey, a dream which seems unattainable since he can't skate very well, can't handle the puck, and has no control over his emotions. He does have the most powerful shot in the game, but even that has limited value since it is just as likely to kill a spectator as to land in the net.

Through the usual bizarre concatenation of circumstances, Sandler accidentally discovers that he has a natural talent for golf. When he aces a very long par four in his first round, his mentor thinks he can be molded into a top pro in a few months, because his earth-shattering power is enough to overcome many of his physical and emotional liabilities. As the plot contrivances would have it, Sandler needs money right away to salvage his childhood home from an IRS auction, so he rejects his coach's sound advice and opts to play tournaments without any preparation.

This isn't supposed to be an exercise in gritty realism. The pro tour pictured here bears no resemblance to the real PGA, and the entire plot seems to take place in Bizarro World. The alleged "tour" is just a gimmick to stage a mano-a-mano "slobs versus snobs" showdown between Sandler and the snooty, insincere tour kingpin, who resembles a good looking version of Snidely Whiplash more than he resembles a real pro golfer. Sandler, of course, plays an irresponsible slob who wears hockey jerseys during golf matches, curses more than Cartman, gets into hockey-style fights with other golfers, throws tantrums on national TV, and gets into a fistfight with Bob Barker in a celebrity pro-am. (Barker is hilarious in a VERY funny scene in which he ends up kicking Sandler's ass.)

Predictably, Sandler becomes a working class hero whose galleries look like the checkout line at K-Mart, and just as predictably, he eventually manages to save the house his grandpa had built brick-by-brick. The unrealistic and formulaic elements don't really detract from one's enjoyment of the film. It's a cute underdog story. The jokes are good. The timing is good. The characters and situations are funny.

Happy Gilmore was directed by Dennis Dugan, an unassuming little guy who once had 15 minutes of unlikely fame in his own TV series as "Richie Brockelman, Private Eye", and who once reached the most majestic heights of TV Olympus as Captain Freedom, possibly the most memorable and beloved guest star role in the history of Hill Street Blues. Since Happy Gilmore, he has directed Big Daddy, again starring Sandler, and a pretty funny film called Saving Silverman, which stars Jack Black.

If you're a Happy Gilmore fan, you'll perk up when you read that the special edition DVD has twenty minutes of deleted footage. Unfortunately, the footage is not really all that good. There is some mostly unfunny stuff about granny's nursing home, and there is a discarded sub-plot revolving around Sandler's homeless caddy, whose part seems to have been very large at one point, but was whittled down significantly for the theatrical release. There are also a few minutes of outtakes, but they are nothing extraordinary.



  • First time the film has been issued in widescreen
  • Anamorphically enhanced (16x9)
  • 20 minutes of deleted scenes
  • Several minutes of outtakes



None, but Julie Bowen shows a lot of her butt in a fantasy sequence.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus out of four stars: fewer than two   stars. James Berardinelli 2/4, Roger Ebert 1.5/4.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C. You may or may not like slapstick and lowbrow humor. It is an acquired taste. Or maybe it's a natural taste that people try to un-acquire. I'm not sure. The point is this: if you don't like that kind of stuff, skip this. If you do, this is one of the better films of its kind.

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