Thursday, September 13, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Caddyshack (1980) ****

R, 98 min.
Director: Harold Ramis
Writers: Brian Doyle-Murray, Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney
Starring: Michael O’Keefe, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, Sarah Holcomb, Scott Colomby, Cindy Morgan, Dan Resin, Henry Wilcoxon

There was something about the 80s that just got comedy right. “Caddyshack” was one of the decade’s first R-rated early gross out flicks. It doesn’t really contain a whole lot of gross out, but it’s a great example of the formula. Its plot is a very basic premise. A kid works as a caddy at a high-class golf club to earn enough money for college. During his time there he learns a lot about life and sex, and must navigate greed and avarice to find a moral center on the side he doesn’t expect to find it—with the crazies instead of the fine upstanding citizens.

That might even be the overcomplicated version of the main story line. What the movie gets right is that it hardly spends much time on its actual plot. As far as sub plots… well, it doesn’t really bother much with subplots either, except for Bill Murray’s assistant groundskeeper and his mission to kill the gopher. This is one of Murray’s iconic roles.

Almost all of the other jokes in the film are non-sequiturs involving various aspects of the golf club. The priest who has the miracle round of golf is a bit that comes out of nowhere and produces comedic gold. The yacht sequence is a classic scene of comedy chaos. Chevy Chase’s entire character is like something that hopped a ride back on the space shuttle.

Then there are the caddy jokes. Murray and his brother, one of the film’s screenwriters and the film’s head caddy, Brian Doyle-Murray used to caddy for summer jobs. Their observations on course life are probably more accurate than they seem in their exaggerated versions for the movie. There are some keen observations, like the old couple who can’t even hit their balls in the right direction, or the rivalries between the old rich fools who think they run the place, or the way caddies are treated as second class citizens. The club’s Caddy Day at the pool is likely a spot on representation of what such an event was actually like. Notice the times the caddies are allowed in the pool.

There was wonderful carelessness to the comedy of the early 80s. Today, comedies all too often seem over-structured. They go from point A to point B and then to point C until they’ve hit all the tried and true signatures of the genre. “Caddyshack” starts at point A and heedlessly bounds throughout the alphabet in random zaniness until finally they blow up the golf course, which I think was really the only point the filmmakers felt they had to hit.


Lea said...

I am not familiar with Caddyshack but after reading your post and watching the video, I have a background now. Mr. Gopher is a good addition to it :)

Andrew Wells said...

I glad I opened your eyes to a new movie. Be sure to watch it, the trailer doesn't do it justice. It may seem dated, but it's good. I see from your blog that you're a James Bond enthusiast. The Bond movies were instrumental in developing my own obsession with film. I've reviewed a few of the movies on this site. I can't wait for Skyfall. It's always nice to see a new follower.

Lea said...

Me too, can't wait for Skyfall, like a child waiting for Christmas. I will take a look at your reviews. I love watching old movies, too. The classics are great as well. I usually watch movies at home. I search for films on the internet. Thanks for the visit on my blog.