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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Happy Gilmore

Film #347


A rejected hockey player puts his skills to the golf course to save his grandmother’s house.

Year 1, Day 347

BEFORE: Adam Sandler returns after a very disappointing go in his last film on the marathon (Billy Madison) with today’s Happy Gilmore. I have heard many good and funny things about this film but I’m also skeptical given Sandler’s varying quality. I’m hoping for the best, but I’m expecting the worst. Hopefully I get the former.

AFTER: The price is… ok. Happy Gilmore, which features Bob Barker in a small supporting role, was quite amusing. Laughter was present for a good amount of the film, not all, but enough and I didn’t hate Sandler’s character, Happy Gilmore, as much as I was preparing for. But for all I enjoyed about this film, it felt bland and ordinary; nothing special that really draws you in.

Even just looking at Sandler’s work (like Big Daddy and Billy Madison) there are many similarities. Gilmore is a derelict who has never seen success in his life. He wants to be a hockey player but can’t skate. Thanks to a surprising coincidence, Gilmore drives a golf ball incredibly far (over 400 yards - read: really far) and then decides to go along with the sport in order to get enough money to help his grandmother. It’s not that bad and in fact his amateur’s abilities at golf leads to some funny moments. But at the same time the template is one we’ve seen many times before (Caddyshack being just one, eerily similar example - it’s got golf, someone who’s in it for the money, and an rich white guy serving as the “villain”). This isn’t inherently bad (The Karate Kid is a recent counterexample), but for Happy Gilmore it’s like landing in a sand trap. A film like The Karate Kid has a few excellent bits (Mr. Miyagi, our desire to see Daniel win) that provide a purpose to the film; a reason to watch. For Happy Gilmore it has Bob Barker and Gilmore’s uncontrollable outbursts on live TV, but these aren’t excellent; they’re just merely above average. Laughs are had, but you don’t laugh so hard you cry. You want Gilmore to win but if he loses, you won’t get upset (in fact, he could throw another tantrum and that would be funny).

So I guess what it comes down to is this: what kind of a comedy are you looking for. If it’s the run-of-the-mill, a few scattered laughs, and a fairly good but unoriginal story, Happy Gilmore fits the bill. You won’t have a bad time watching this film, but you won’t have a great time either. I’m happy it was better than I was expecting (especially given Sandler’s previous Billy Madison), but I was left wanting more.

RATING: 3 out of 5