Why do I keep doing this to myself? I must be some sort of masochist to go back to the bone dry well that is Adam Sandler comedies for a drink. Surprisingly enough, Happy Gilmore holds up much better than most Sandler films. I am trying to be nostalgic about in my review. In 1996, his anger management impaired man child routine was still relatively new. Any comedian in his nascent movie career is bound to start with low brow efforts which are guilty pleasures. The big problem with Sandler is the poor hack is a one trick pony. Fortunately, Happy Gilmore is the best time he performed the trick.
Sandler plays Happy Gilmore, a blue collar loser who dreams of playing professional hockey, but lacks the skill. He inadvertently discovers he has a knack from driving a golf ball when he takesa bet with some movers who kicking his widowed grandmother out of her house. Gilmore begins taking driving bets with other golfers to earn money to save his grandmother’s house. He catches the eye of former pro golfer Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers) who convinces Gilmore to go pro.
What we have is a square peg in a round hole plot in which the immature Gilmore, fantastic knack for driving the ball he has, does not fit in with the PGA tou. He does bring in the young crowd, so the powers that be reluctantly tolerate him. He makes an enemy in the smarmy Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald) McGavin is an amusing antagonist, though one who engages Gilmore too often in the sarcastic remark department in which he is outclassed. The conflict of Gilmore improving his golf game in order to beat McGavin would have been sweeter had Gilmore not already gotten the best of him in other areas.
Happy Gilmore mixes a lot of vulgar sex jokes and slapstick humor with some incredibly absurd elements. It is the absurdity which saves the film. His grandmother is trapped in a slave labor nursing home run by the hilariously sinister unaccredited Ben Stiller playing the mustache twirling villain to a tee. The famous fist fight with bob barker is the biggest highlight, but it is followed closely by Gilmore’s ’Happy place” featuring the lovely Julie Bowen in her underwear.
Happy Gilmore is a predictable brain cell killing romp that could have been written by a thirteen year old. The movie rests on several hilarious scenes and the hope that sandler’s shtick has not worn thin on you yet. A little of said shtick goes a long way, indeed. Happy Gilmore is better than you probably remember, but still only for when you feel the need to go comedy slumming.
Rating: *** (out of 5)