Caddyshack (1980)


Untitled-1Caddyshack is a funny movie alright. It’s got jokes coming out of its gopher holes. Some of them are witty, and some are so slapstick they’d make Leslie Nielsen wonder why he wasn’t offered a part. It has all the crazy characters you can imagine (and then some), and some of them are so good at what they do they need only stare into the camera lens and they’ll make us laugh. But when you push aside all the jokes and try to appreciate Caddyshack as a sports movie, it misses the 18th hole by a long shot.

As far as sports movies go, Caddyshack isn’t well-written. And I can identify its major problem: It has too many characters struggling for a spot in the limelight. Each one of them brings along a very powerful persona, powerful enough to hold scenes on their own. When you bring three, four, even five of these characters into one room, they’re going to blow the roof off. They demand their own monologues and are so eager to spill a joke here and there that the script has to constantly veer off course just to provide openings. Consider the uncontrollable yacht scene. Two rich golfing tycoons measure the size of their manhood by comparing their boats. One of the tycoons, the annoying one, loses control of his boat and sends it crashing into people. Then he drops his anchor right through the other tycoon’s boat. I’ve summarised it quite a bit, but the scene goes on for ages. Halfway through it I realised that it has no connection to the story, nor does it say anything about the characters involved. It is there for the sake of comedy.

There’s also an entire scene devoted to caddies frolicking in the golf club swimming pool moments before a poop-shaped candy bar is accidentally thrown in, causing widespread hysteria. Watch as the swimmers try frantically to evade what is meant to be a dangerous sausage of excrement — to the Jaws soundtrack. I can only guess that this scene exists by the merit of an accidental discovery. It’s funny, but pointless.

And that can be said of the whole movie. Instead of communing as a whole, the story is split up into little segments, each led by different characters who, at times, don’t even seem to be acting in the same movie. Their styles vary tremendously. We have Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), the golf pro whose quiet humour betrays the enormity of his ego. There’s Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight), the boisterous cheating owner of the Bushwood golf club. There’s the annoying tycoon I mentioned, Al (Rodney Dangerfield), who seems to be channeling a hoard of very obnoxious and racist stand-up comics. There’s Carl (Bill Murray), the slightly retarded groundskeeper of the country club whose only role is too eliminate the gopher problem — oh he eliminates it alright, and the golf course too. There’s Danny (Michael O’Keefe), the star caddy who wants more than anything to earn a caddy scholarship. I thought the story would be about him, but no, he is pushed to the sidelines and made a secondary character. And then there is an endless list of supporting roles, ranging from sexy young nieces, to very elderly female club regulars. Try mixing all these people into one sane movie and you’ve got yourself a handful.

There is no point telling you the plot of this movie, because there is no plot. It shoots off in one direction, and before you can swing your club it shoots off in another. It does this so fast, and so regularly, that keeping track of the characters’ motives becomes an impossibility. You can do one of two things with Caddyshack: 1) try your best to piece a story together while laughing your head off (you will not be successful), or 2) completely ignore the parameters of a coherent story and laugh your head off anyway. Save your brain some thinking and stick with option #2.

Best Moment | There are many. The movie is actually so funny that I can’t pinpoint one particular best moment.

Worst Moment | Rodney Dangerfield’s scenes.


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