Monday, December 30, 2013

Caddyshack

I saw Caddyshack for the first time a couple years ago, and I mostly remember that I found Chevy Chase annoying and Bill Murray amusing.  In that short amount of time I forgot the main plot, as for the majority of the story we're actually following a young guy named Danny who is trying to earn a caddy based scholarship for college.

Harold Ramis co-wrote and directed this picture, and you can see some similarities between this and Meatballs, which he also co-wrote.  Though while Meatballs was a cluttered mess of events happening at a summer camp, the events surrounding this country club golf course are at least better strung together, if not always connected.  Danny's story is probably the most uninteresting, mostly because Michael O'Keefe sort of blends into the background.  The idea of a poor kid trying to get ahead while temptations of girls get in the way is pretty standard.  I think they knew this from the get go, and therefore filled the film with zany characters to help spice it up a bit more.

There's Chevy Chase, a rich man who loves to play golf but isn't interested in keeping score.  He just wants to live his life to the fullest and chase women.  There's Rodney Dangerfield, playing the same character he always plays, except this time he is also rich, and therefore being a foil to the bossy, stuck up judge who runs the country club and causing chaos wherever he goes.  Then there's Bill Murray as the assistant groundskeeper, occasionally interacting with the rest of the cast but largely off in his own world.

I'm not a fan of Chevy Chase myself, and as such I don't enjoy most of the scenes he's in.  He's just too smarmy and unlikeable.  Dangerfield's scenes strike me as at least half improvised, if not more.  His schtick is pretty one note, but it does have its moments.  Murray is definitely the oddest of the group, speaking in a strange muffled accent that makes him hard to understand at times.  But more often than not, the things he's mumbling to himself do end up being entertaining.  I would guess a large portion of his scenes were improvised as well.  His rivalry with the gopher is one of the elements that happens to run for the entirety of the film, and while the gopher puppet isn't the most advanced, it still works well in a cartoonish way.

This movie does rely on fart and poop jokes a little too heavily at times, though it's pretty mild in comparison to what movies would do later in the 90s.  But this is the kind of movie that has someone throw a Baby Ruth candy bar in a pool and have everyone freak out thinking it's poop.  There's also a few moments with topless ladies, for those who enjoy that.  It's all pretty mild compared to some of the raunchier comedies of the day though.  The dialogue is often pretty sharp too, which helps keeps it entertaining even when the plot is dragging.

This is not a film I normally would have returned to if it wasn't for this project.  It's not bad, but it does wander and there just isn't enough there that would keep me coming back.  Honestly I would recommend most people see the Bill Murray moments if you haven't before, and leave the rest for Chase and Dangerfield fans to enjoy. 

2 comments:

  1. Caddyshack occupies an interesting place in my understanding of American culture. I've seen it referenced countless times before, but I've never really understood what it was actually about. Which, now that I think about it, is kind of odd - when something gets referenced as often as Caddyshack, I can usually work out the basics through cultural osmosis alone.

    And, having read your post... I guess I can see why it was popular at the time it was made. It tapped into a popular zeitgeist and starred a lot of comedy actors who were big in 80s. And the fact that the plot isn't really all that remarkable may explain why it's become an echo of a cultural reference without having lasting cultural impact.

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    1. It may mean a little more for fans of golf.. but admittedly that's a pretty small section of American culture.

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