Cult Classic: Happy Gilmore
When Adam Sandler is dressing as a woman and romancing Al Pacino in movies these days, it’s even more important for us to revisit Happy Gilmore.
Adam Sandler’s tendency to release a new comedy every summer for the past fifteen years has led to shall we say, an ‘erratic’ rate of return. Though the comic has always been a huge draw in the US, his box office run of form has begun to dry up, to the point that the risible cross-dressing comedy Jack & Jill managed to score a record-breaking 11 award nominations at the Razzies this year, an event commonly referred to as the ‘Anti-Oscars’.
In fact, the film was so bad that it had actually more nominations than awards that were on offer. Granted, that doesn’t make any sense but if you sat through Al Pacino rapping about Dunkin’ Donuts and falling in love with a shrieky-voiced female Sandler, you’ll understand the Razzies’ need for revenge.
Yet even Sandler’s biggest critics will point to one movie which is an undeniable 1990s comedy classic; the star’s breakthrough post-Saturday Night Live hit, Happy Gilmore. Forget Tin Cup, Happy Gilmore, a film featuring an extended cameo from the actor who played Jaws in Moonraker and Ben Stiller tormenting a granny is actually the best golf movie of all time.
Sandler stars as our titular hero, a failed Ice Hockey wannabe with an affinity for punching his teammates in the face, a trait which ultimately costs him his career. When old, one-handed golf pro Chubbs Peterson (played by the Rocky series’ Apollo Creed, actor Carl Weathers) notices Happy hustling golf players at the driving range (his skills owed to his hockey slapshot), he offers to train him up. After all, if Happy can drive a golf ball over 400 yards at will, all he needs to do is perfect his putting game and keep his temper at bay.
Thus sets up Happy’s foray into the world of golf, a journey kept on a knife edge due to the film’s somewhat unoriginal subplot in which he has to win enough money to stop his beloved grandmother’s house from being repossessed. Standing in his way is possibly the best comedy villain of the past twenty years – Shooter McGavin.
Professional and privileged, McGavin is everything you ask for from a comedy antagonist. He ties his sweater around his neck, has a terribly corny mock-pistol celebration after each hole and most disturbingly of all, he apparently likes to eat pieces of sh*t for breakfast. Or so he says…
Amid all the shenanigans is one of the best comedy cameos you can imagine, as Sandler gets to grips with US The Price is Right game show host Bob Barker, who was 72 at the time of filming. The entire golf course fight – which arises from an aletercation at a celebrity Pro-Am – was deservedly the very first winner of the MTV Movie Award for Best Fight. It’s worth watching again just for the perfect, triumphant delivery of Barker’s “Now you’ve had enough …bitch” after his victory.
With unavoidable Subway product placement, creepy KISS-inspired dream sequences and the weirdest rendition of ‘My Endless Love‘ you’re ever likely to see, Happy Gilmore is an extremely odd concoction but one which still goes down well sixteen years later. If you’re feeling a little cruel, we’d mention that that’s exactly how long we’ve been waiting for Sandler’s second great movie since.
For more cult films, check out the Jameson Cult Film Club.