Movies That Everyone Should See: “Caddyshack”

20110911-013618.jpg

The Snobs against the Slobs.

I’m alright.
Nobody worry ’bout me.
Why you gotta give me a fight?
Why don’tcha just let me be?

20110911-014852.jpg

“Caddyshack”.

Inarguably one of the greatest comedies of all time.

It tells the story of a golf course beset by rodents and reprobates. Yet the club’s owner is so comically stuck up that you root for them to take the club apart.

It’s got nudity, drug abuse, rock and roll, water ballet, an animatronic gopher and of course, golf.

It’s potentially the most quotable movie of all time. I challenge anyone who’s ever golfed to tell me they haven’t found themselves using the “Cinderella story” speech, or gone “Tunn nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh. Dunn nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh” over a putt.

20110911-020537.jpg

“Caddyshack” was written by Harrold Ramis and Douglas Kenney, they same duo that brought the world “Animal House” just a few years prior. They were joined by Brian Doyle Murray, and together the three of them penned a comedy revolving around their youthful experiences on the golf course.

Thus the “main character” of the film is Danny Noonan. A young caddy who isn’t sure if he wants to go to college. Even if he did, he doesn’t know how he’d pay for it. Fortunately, he’s an excellent golfer, and the club he works for, Bushwood, offers an annual scholarship to one lucky caddy. Unfortunately, this would involve schmoozing with the club’s detestable owner, Judge Smails. So Danny’s big question is: will he sell out?

But we all know this isn’t a movie about Danny Noonan.

20110911-022221.jpg

No, “Caddyshack” is an incredible comedy because it has four legendary comedians injecting four distinct styles of comedy via four hysterical characters. Like a Baseball team with four future Hall of Fame pitchers in the rotation, together these four actors combine to create an unforgettable movie.

Judge Smails, mentioned above, was played by Ted Knight. Knight was best known for his work as Ted Baxter in “The Mary Tyler Show”, one of the most famous, beloved sitcoms in television history.

As Smails, he creates a character who is just skin crawlingly stuck up. He’s a blustery pompous buffoon of a man. He even dresses like an obnoxious snob. In addition to holding the caddy scholarship out in front of Danny Noonan like a kissing up carrot, he does his level best to preserve the exclusivity and haughty airs of the country club.

Enter Al Czervik.

20110911-030554.jpg

Czervik is the work of legendary stand up comedian and movie star Rodney Dangerfield. It was his first movie role. It’s arguably his best.

With his bug eyed, overweight looks and his eyesore outfits (take a second look at the picture above), Dangerfield’s Czervik bursts onto the Bushwood scene much to the chagrin of Knight’s Smails. He walks around and loudly insults everything in sight, tossing off offensive one liners like an obnoxious Henny Youngman. After he’s derided every aspect of the golf club, and driven Smails to the point of near insanity, he manages to get the Judge involved in a high stakes round of golf.

Of course, Czervik has a ringer. Ty Webb.

20110911-032630.jpg

If it weren’t for Clark Griswold, I think I would have called Webb Chevy Chase’s most memorable character, and each of the stars of the movie would all have put their greatest work forward in the same film.

Independently wealthy, obsessed with golf, and an amateur zen philosopher, Webb is the best golfer at Bushwood. He’s also the most appealing candidate for Smail’s attractive niece, Lacy Underall. Between bedding his niece, rejecting the values of Bushwood (such as keeping score) and joining Czervik in the big money game, Webb is yet another thorn in Smails’ side.

Chase smirks and winks his way through the movie, tossing off quasi-philosophical jargon about golf, and giving questionable mentoring to young Danny Noonan. He’s at his effortless best here, as if everything in the world is easy. Webb is extraordinarily non-chalant about everything that goes on in his life, but he comes down on the right side of the Snobs vs Slobs battle.

And yet, amidst this embarrassment of comedic riches, the funniest, most memorable character as yet to even be mentioned.

Bill Murray’s Carl Spackler.

20110913-092721.jpg

Lopsidedly jutting out his lower lip, and speaking in a nearly incomprehensible mumble, Bill Murray crafted an indelible comedic character here. Bushwood’s assistant greenskeeper, Carl Spackler.

Spackler is slovenly, stupid, and probably smells bad. He lives in the equipment shed out back, where he is growing his own marijuana hybrid. Though he’s part of the greenskeeping staff, he happily spends one scene talking to himself and golfing the heads off of a row of flowers. His basic storyline involves him being tasked with killing a gopher that’s begun to burrow on the course. That’s it. Just… Kill the gopher.

And yet, it’s quickly apparent that the gopher is smarter than he is.

It’s every bit the classic moron hunts varmint story. Elmer Fudd vs. Bugs Bunny, Carl Spackler vs. The Gopher.

20110913-085750.jpg

Four great comedians. Four classic characters. All wrapped up in a hysterical movie. The premise will never grow old. The snobs vs the slobs. And in the end, the “slobs” literally blow the course up at the end. Mingled in is some solid coming of age stuff, some zen humor, and lots of funny, funny golf material.

It’s like Ray told me earlier this week when we were talking about it, every single scene has something funny (although I think we both forgot the “Maggie” scenes). He’s got a great point. Think of all the scenes that I haven’t even touched on. The Bishop getting electrocuted. D’Annunzio’s golf swing. Spaulding. The movie is literally bursting at the seams with jokes, one liners, and funny, funny characters.

It’s one of, if not THE, funniest movies of all time.

It’s definitely a “Movie That Everyone Should See”.

20110913-092004.jpg

About these ads

9 thoughts on “Movies That Everyone Should See: “Caddyshack”

      • Been thinking about this movie some more, and you raise a really good point. The supposed “main plot”, the coming-of-age story, actually is kind of a flop. I mean, I suspect most folks watching the movie couldn’t actually care less about the kid getting a scholarship or whatever. But you just don’t care how bad it flops because of the Knight/Dangerfield/Chase/Murray stuff. And as you point out, that’s four very different types of comedian, but it blends much better than it has any right to.

      • Thanks, yeah. Honestly, I even soft-sold the “Maggie is pregnant” arc. Just had the potential in a lesser movie to be an incredible misfire… but its such a minimal part of the overall when all is said and done that it winds up not even registering.

        I know you’e a Braves fan, and I thought of that starting rotation from the 90s when I was thinking about these four guys. Its just a STACKED comedy pitching staff.

  1. It’s a strange thing. I find myself wanting, at least a little, to quibble with many of your points, and yet not with the main argument itself. I’d probably pick Fletch as Chase’s greatest movie. I’m not a golfer, so I seldom find occasion to quote Caddyshack. I’m not a big Dangerfield fan, though I’d agree that this was his best work. And while I wouldn’t say someone was wrong to call it one of the funniest movies of all time, I don’t think it’d break my top five, and maybe not my top ten (I say that, of course, without actually compiling said lists. It’s just a gut feeling.)

    Yet I do think it’s a worthy contender for such a list, and it is hilarious from start to end, and it is a movie everyone should see. Even if they’re not a golfer.

    • Fletch is up there too.

      But I think with TWO classic movies, Clark Griswold wins for his most memorable character (I know he did four, but only Vacation and Christmas Vacation are classics).

      Comedy is a subjective thing. I have this movie either one or two on my comedy list at all times (Blazing Saddles is currently #1). But this is a hard movie to argue against (not that you are).

      And its an EASY choice for a “Movie that everyone should see”. LOL – at only one a week, I’ve probably got “low hanging fruit” to pick for at least a year or so. :D

      • You know, it hadn’t even registered with me yet that you were doing these on a weekly basis… King of Observation, that’s me…

        And yeah, I have to agree about the subjectivity of comedy. Among other things, it’s the only explanation I have for the success of so many of today’s comedies, which I simply find unfunny. I’d have to think long and hard about what I’d place as #1, though. And I’m sure if you asked me again a month later I’d have a different answer.

        I also have to agree that Vacation and Christmas Vacation are the only classics in that franchise. I’m not quite sure what went wrong with European Vacation, but I remember it wasn’t as good; whereas with Vegas Vacation, I’m pretty sure what went wrong is that they forgot that for all his faults, Clark’s always trying to make it fun for his family.

  2. Always wanted to throw a Baby Ruth into a swimming pool growing up. Absolutely classic and one of the best films about golf culture ever.

    • Yeah it is!

      I dont know that that thought ever crossed my mind, LOL, but I appreciate your subversive way of thinking!

      Definitely is a classic, thanks for swinging through to check it out Markus! :D

Join in the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s