Happy Gilmore

1996, Movie, PG-13, 92 mins

Review

HAPPY GILMORE
starstarstarstar
Adam Sandler takes another swing at big-screen stardom in HAPPY GILMORE, but he ends up in the rough with this sorry excuse for a comedy about an unusually talented golfer.

Sandler plays Happy Gilmore, a suburban youth who grows up with dreams of hockey stardom. Yet, while Happy possesses the hair-trigger temperament for the game, he lacks talent. On the same day Happy finds out that his grandmother (Frances Bay) is being evicted from her home for not paying taxes, he also discovers by chance that his wildly inaccurate hockey shooting style can be converted into an incredibly powerful golf swing.

While making some quick cash on driving range bets to stall the IRS from seizing his grandmother's house, Happy meets and teams up with Chubbs (Carl Weathers), a golf coach. Encouraged by Chubbs, Happy enters a local tournament to raise even more money for his grandmother. His surprising success inspires him to turn professional. Unfortunately, before Happy embarks on his pro tour, he is forced to place his homeless grandmother in a nightmarish nursing facility.

Happy begins winning cash on the tour right away, despite his poor putting ability and volatile disposition. With Chubbs' help, however, Happy improves his overall game, and prepares to face off against the favored pro, Shooter (Christopher McDonald), in the upcoming championship contest. Tragically, Chubbs dies before the game, but Happy is consoled by the tournament publicist, Virginia (Julie Bowen). During the final competition, Shooter tries to sabotage Happy's game, but Happy ultimately wins and saves his grandmother's house.

HAPPY GILMORE is inspired as much by the tradition of the goofy sports comedy--from SAFETY LAST (1923) to MAJOR LEAGUE (1989)--as by the recent phenomenon of young upstarts like Tiger Woods entering the sport of the elite. In fact, the subtext of the violent humor throughout HAPPY GILMORE suggests class-warfare comedy at its most vicious. Yet, while one might expect CADDYSHACK-type digs at the expense of the rich, there is no reason for Sandler and co-writer Tim Herlihy to joke about the abuse of the elderly in nursing homes or to include a mean-spirited alligator-wrestling scene.

Perhaps the angry humor might have worked better with ACE VENTURA's nuttier Jim Carrey, but HAPPY GILMORE is built around a performer who is limited both as an actor and a comic. Sandler's serious moments are dramatically deadly, while a little of his comedy goes a long way. At least he doesn't sing in this outing, and Weathers and Kevin Nealon aid him in some of the flakier routines. By default, Christopher McDonald gives the most rounded performance as Happy's jock-nemesis.

The worst moments occur as famous anti-vivisectionist Bob Barker fights with Happy during a match following the nasty alligator-wrestling bit.

It is not saying much that this film is slightly better than BILLY MADISON (1995), Sandler's debut feature.

Not since Jerry Lewis's HARDLY WORKING (1981), have there been so many plugs in a film, including spots for AT&T, Budweiser, Pepsi, Visa and the commercial-within-the-film for Subway restaurants. (Violence, adult situations, extreme profanity.) leave a comment

Are You Watching?

Happy Gilmore
Loading ...

Shop

Fletch / Happy Gilmore / Mallrats Triple Feature
Buy Fletch / Happy Gilmore / Mallrats Triple Feature from Amazon.com
From Universal Studios (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $10.36 (as of 12:07 AM EST - more info)
3-Movie Laugh Pack: Happy Gilmore / Billy Madison / I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Buy 3-Movie Laugh Pack: Happy Gilmore / Billy Madison / I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry from Amazon.com
From Universal Studios (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $12.73 (as of 12:07 AM EST - more info)

More Products

TV GUIDE Users' Most Popular