Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Billy Madison

Film #285


In order to inherit his fed up father’s hotel empire, an immature and lazy man must repeat grades 1-12 all over again.

Year 1, Day 289: Movie #285

BEFORE: I had a previously written before section but in light of what happened today, I decided to scrap that and leave you with this: my thoughts are with all those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings this afternoon. Thankfully I was safely on campus at the time of the event after having walked the exact same span of Boylston street just two hours prior. I was going to take this day off and focus on news developments and try to get some work done, but my suite decided we should try and focus on something else and decided to watch Billy Madison.

AFTER: I’ll be upfront with you: similar to yesterday’s viewing of Princess Mononoke my attention wasn’t fully on the film throughout. I was busy checking social media and other forms of communication waiting to here updates on the events. So, like yesterday, this whole review comes with the caveat that my opinion could have been different had I focused more on the film itself. Unlike Princess Mononokehowever, I don’t think my opinion would have changed that much - either way I’m pretty sure I’ll hate Billy Madison.

The primary reason is what I’ll chalk up to stupidity, both in the story and the characters. They make absolutely no sense: the premise is implausible (a grown adult repeating grade school in half a year) and all the characters - led by Billy Madison (Adam Sandler) - are just unbelievable. Character-wise I just found myself sort of in shock at how much of a jerk Madison is. He insults the children, physically beats them (e.g. at dodgeball), and is an all-around bad influence on them. I understand that’s his character in the film but it doesn’t really make sense. In real life most people have the common sense not to do things like that to children younger than 10 years, and in the rare case they don’t have that common sense, an adult around them would intervene and stop that behavior. Combine this poor characterization with an equally bizarre plot (as mentioned above) and you get some bad film.

The worst part was that it wasn’t even funny. Sometimes you get a bad film like this in terms of story and characters but there’s still a redeeming quality or two such as being able to laugh or connect with just one of the secondary characters. But Billy Madison had none of that. I will refrain from giving it just the one star (“I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul”) because it didn’t get my full attention and in doing so I may have found a silver lining somewhere. But also because even as bad as it was, it wasn’t so bad it needed to be turned off and provided at least minimal background entertainment.

RATING: 2 out of 5