One of the risks with watching comedy classics from the 80s and 90s is that sometimes the humour can end up being quite dated. I think that is one of the strengths of Caddyshack is that the film is still very funny, despite being from a completely different era. This should not be much of a surprise because the people who made this film are comedic geniuses. Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray all had a hand in writing this film, but the guy who brought it all together was director Harold Ramis. He recently passed away and was involved in some of the funniest films of my generation. He starred in Ghostbusters and directed classics like Groundhog Day and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Caddyshack is not as good as those films, in my opinion, but it is still very funny. Especially when you consider that the film is over 30 years old.
Caddyshack is set at a snooty country club, the main character is Danny (Michael O’Keefe), a caddy to the eccentric and wealthy members who is using this job to save for college. He finds out about a scholarship that is handed out by the club’s owner to the best (his favourite) caddy. He is mentored on the course by a charming player he caddies for, Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), who is not convinced Danny should be going to college and perhaps he has other talents elsewhere. This is a large part of the plot, but there are so many more sub plots involving the crazy members and a psychotic green keeper’s (a brilliant Bill Murray) pursuit of gophers throughout the course.
Another major plot point is a feud between the club’s owner, Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight), and Al Czervik (Dangerfield). Czervik is a loud and obnoxious new member at the Judge’s uppity country club. The Judge quickly takes a disliking to Czervik, eventually leading to a bet between the pair to see who is the better golfer.
My favourite part of this film is Bill Murray’s crazy portrayal of the club greens keeper. He has been tasked to rid the course of gophers who are destroying the course with their underground tunnels. Murray is brilliant, he has ad-libbed most of his lines. The only problem with his character is that he doesn’t add much to the plot. It seemed like his role was originally very small, but then Murray was so awesome, they had to put all of his scenes in the film. It is not a huge problem because Murray is by far the funniest part of this film, but it does feel a little bit like they shoehorned a lot of his scenes in.
This film is funny. Dangerfield and Bill Murray are at the top of their game here. It’s worth seeing just for their performances. In terms of golfing comedies, I think I prefer Happy Gilmore, but this is still enjoyable.
Is there anything better than an 80s movie filled with Kenny Loggins music? Yes– an 80s movie filled with Huey Lewis music. But Loggins is a close second. (Sorry for the trick question.) Most people’s thoughts will immediately go to “I’m Alright” and the dancing gopher puppet, which fair enough, this is the movie’s theme song. However, for my money “Mr. Night” is the cooler track. It’s just a cool, bouncy song that perfectly scores the pool scene as WASPy Lacey (Cindy Morgan) shows off on the diving board.
Caddyshack is one of those quintessential comedies that you must see if you haven’t already. It’s basically a bunch of funny vignettes strung together by a very loose story line and a golf theme, but it works. The true brilliance are the masterful improvisations of stars Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Rodney Dangerfield. This isn’t even my favorite 80s comedy, and I still find myself quoting it often (“So I got that going for me. Which is nice.”).
Of course, the entire movie wouldn’t have worked without director Harold Ramis. I never realized how many films Ramis had a hand in until his recent death, but he was a part of some great comedies. Caddyshack was his first go at directing, and the result is a little rough. He truly shines as a director and writer in Groundhog Day, but here get a little taste of his genius.