Caddyshack (1980)

caddyshack_posterOften touted as one of the finest sports comedies ever made, Caddyshack comes across as more a typically zany 1980’s comedy film, which isn’t too much of a bad thing. In fact, it’s Harold Ramis’ brand of abstract silliness, along with intuitive input from the lead performers and good use comedic timing, that made Caddyshack a very memorable, and well-aged comedy film from back when people actually knew how to write actual comedy.

In this film, a young man named Danny Noonan becomes a caddy in order to make money for college, working for a golfer named Ty Webbs, all while a bunch of crazy characters is generally wreaking havoc and making life hell for the club owner, Judge Elihu Smails. Among the wealthy and eccentric members of the Bushwood golf club is Al Czervik, a loud, crude tycoon who harasses Smails until he decides he’s no longer welcome, and eventually challenges him and Ty to a golf match. Meanwhile, an unkempt greenskeeper is charged with getting rid of a gopher, but fails and ends up blowing the course to pieces.

A lot happens in Caddyshack, and clearly none of it should be happening in a real life golf course. The story seems a tad disorganised, and to be fair, this isn’t necessarily a film that’s focused on story and writing. It’s basically a vehicle for the comedic talents of the main cast, and in that regard, it works, offering laughs despite a plot that sometimes meanders, replete with scenes that were often built around the gags.

Only in the 80’s does this approach seem to work, though because of the way the film was written, everything revolves around Rodney Dangerfield’s character (Chevy Chase’s character doesn’t really appear too often, save for the beginning and close to the end), and he is outrageous enough that he not just steals but pillages the show, dominating with the kind of comedic personality that the. That’s not to say none of the other characters perform, like Chevy Chase, who perhaps plays a noticeable more subtle character, at least compared to Dangerfield.

For whatever reason, films like Caddyshack remind me of a more well-produced sitcom from around that time, probably because they tend to present themselves with a similar style. Of course, the film has good production values behind it, but the main point of the film is the comedy, which is composed more of gags than of jokes, and this gag-based approach is very much hilarious, and sort of defines Caddyshack. It’s pretty juvenile sometimes (and some of the film’s critics seemed to pick this as the stick with which to beat it), but it’s fun.

It’s no classic, but I would be blind not to notice that the film had aged quite well after nearly four decades. With a charming cast, well-timed gags, and a good director (and writers) behind it, Caddyshack, despite being a film of its time, performed well enough that it had attained lasting appeal and influence long afterward.

  • Score: 80%
  • Grade: B
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