Golf is my least favorite sport. I think it's boring, and not fun to play. So you could imagine my trepidation heading into a golf film such as 1980's Caddyshack. I was pleasantly surprised by my reaction to this movie. The movie is really not about golf, but about the zany antics of the many characters in the film. The movie is crude and juvenile, but the humor really works. Not every joke is going to work, but there was enough screwball comedy to keep me chortling throughout the film.
Caddyshack is Harold Ramis's directorial debut and he also written the screenplay along with Brian Doyle-Murray and Douglas Kenney. Ramis previously wrote one of my favorite 1978 comedies, Animal House. It is natural that he would bring the same type of humor to this film. As for directing, Ramis did a rather good job in his debut. There were some issues regarding connectivity of the characters, but I think he passed his first test.
When coming up with the screenplay of the film, Murray and Ramis took experiences from their personal lives and added them to story. Growing up, they worked as caddies. So I liked how there was more of a personal touch to the movie than one would expect. One of my favorite scenes, the Baby Ruth candy in the swimming pool scene, actually happened for real at Murray's high school. Once you add the Jaws theme music, you have one of the best scenes of the movie.
The plot of the film barely exists. What I mean is that the film is just a rapid series of comedic actions meant to make you laugh and in a screwball comedy, that is just fine. I will give you a basic outline of the plot. Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) is a caddy working at the Bushwood County Club. In order to get himself a bright future, he wants to earn a caddy scholarship from Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight), the owner of the club. Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) is a rude millionaire who wants to purchase the club, but Judge Smails has no time for Czervik's attitude. There is Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) who is a charming golfer who helps Danny try to figure out his true life goals. Finally, we meet the groundskeeper, Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) who is hell-bent on eliminating a gopher that is ruining the golf course.
Hence here is where my biggest problem with the film lays. You may have noticed there was a lot jammed into the plot, even though there is not much of a plot to begin with. These characters are very entertaining in their own segments because they bring a different personality to the table, but they really are not connected. You would think that the actions of these characters would lead to some grand outcome that would connect them, but unfortunately that is not the case. The Carl Spackler chasing the gopher segment has nothing to do with the rest of the film. Although, those scenes are where I was most consistently laughing and Bill Murray absolutely rocked it as Carl Spackler.
Each character has a different persona, and the actors did a great job portraying those personas. Chevy Chase is more of a charming, laidback golfer who is great at wooing in the ladies. Rodney Dangerfield is a witty, acerbic man who delivers rapid fire lines at the speed of light! Dangerfield was previously known as a comedian, and this is his first big movie role. I was impressed how he delivered his lines. His scenery-chewing, along with his insults and one-liners make him a memorable character. Bill Murray does wonderful as the self-absorbed groundskeeper, although it does make you wonder if this character is a remnant of Animal House. Ted Knight does a solid job as the judge, but maybe he is over-reaching just a little. Michael O'Keefe, who was so good in 1979's The Great Santini, delivers another strong performance here.
I liked Caddyshack. Some people make it out to be a comedy classic of the ages, but I consider it to be an above-average screwball comedy that will make you laugh. The characters, even if they don't connect to the film as a whole, are memorable and funny. There are some quotable lines (thank you, Mr. Dangerfield). This is all light fun, and it does everything a comedy should do. It gets nothing but better for Mr. Ramis here on out. By the way, even that gopher is cute in an odd way.
My Grade: B