Movie Name: Happy Gilmore
Studio: Brillstein-Grey Productions
Release Date(s): February 16, 1996
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) is a hockey player with anger issues. When he can no longer play and his home of his grandmother (Frances Bay) is repossessed, Happy must find a way to make money fast. Happy comes to the attention of former golfer Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers) who recognizes Happy’s abilities. With Chubbs advice, Happy finds himself involved in professional golf and making enemies with Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald). Happy and Virginia Venit (Julie Bowen) must find a way for Happy to rise to the top of the golf world to save his grandmother’s home before it is too late.
Directed by Dennis Dugan, Happy Gilmore was written by Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy. The movie was released to mixed reviews but became a massive hit. Adam Sandler was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Actor for Happy Gilmore (along with Bulletproof).
I’m not a huge Adam Sandler film. I think he’s generally a pretty one trick pony with his angry yell (something Will Ferrell also does, but with a bit more “acting” surrounding the yelling). I kind of liked Billy Madison (though also dumb), but I never was able to get into Happy Gilmore.
The story for Happy Gilmore is paper thin and just a showcase for Sandler to do gags and jokes. The whole “save the house” may be the thrust of the plot, but it feels like they just want Happy to random “funny” stuff. I can’t say I don’t laugh at points in Happy Gilmore, but they are sometimes few and far between.
Sandler is backed by a nice supporting cast. Julie Bowen and Frances Bay are charming as Happy’s potential girlfriend and his loving grandmother and Bob Barker helped reinvent himself for a younger generation by playing himself in one of the movie’s better moments. Character actor Christopher McDonald has made a career out of playing smug guys and Kevin Nealon channels his Caddyshack Chevy Chase as a Zen golfer. James Bond vet Richard Kiel has one of his last on-screen appearances as Mr. Larson and Carl Weathers is probably underused as Chubbs. I particularly like Lee Trevino cameos as himself.
Happy Gilmore is one of Adam Sandler’s better comedies (which is probably ) a sad thing. I’d recommend sticking with Billy Madison which seems to have more laughs. Happy is a rather quoted movie by fans and has had staying power. With such success, a lazy Hollywood, and Adam Sandler losing his shine, I’m surprised that Happy Gilmore hasn’t been revisited for a sequel (there actually is room for exploration as Happy gets to join the “senior” tour).
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