GOLF PANTS AREN'T ANY COOLER IN THE MOVIES

 

There are certain comedies that seem to endure as the years go passing by. The humor just holds up to the test of time. This can be difficult because sensibilities change and how people respond to the film can change. One movie that still gets me laughing is Caddyshack. I've never been able to watch golf and yet somehow a film about golf in a country club can make me laugh a quarter of a century after its original release.

 

 I guess that can be put down to good writing and some strong performances from some comedic heavyweights. I have always been a Rodney Dangerfield fan although I never felt he got a truly great acting role. His role in Caddyshack is not a sterling acting performance but it does play well to his comedic strengths. All Rodney needs is an excuse to throw out the one liners and he will be hilarious.

 

 The movie is about a country club run by snobs. This is a classic plot for raunchy comedies in the late 70s and early 80s. The snobs vs the slobs. The snobs are headed up by Judge Smails (Ted Knight) and the slobs are led by Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield. Bill Murray also has a great role as the assistant greenskeeper, Carl Spackler placed in charge of exterminating the groundhogs that are tearing up the course. This provides an amusing side story to the film.

 

The film also features Chevy Chase as Ty Webb. Webb is a wealthy golfer who doesn't like to keep score when he plays. He tends to have a very laissez faire attitude toward life. He espouses a Zen like philosophy that successful golfing revolves around “becoming the ball.” And if anyone asks the Basho quote he uses in the film is not a real one. Basho likely never ate a doughnut or danish in his life. It should be noted that Basho was a poet and not a philosopher.

 

The is also a storyline that centers around caddy Danny Noonan played by Michael O'Keefe. Danny is from a poor family that can't afford to send him to college. He is trying to win the Caddy scholarship. This gives him reason to butter up to the Judge in hopes of obtaining the scholarship. The judge likes having people kiss up to him and takes a bit of a shine to Danny.

 

Rodney is hilarious as he plays the guest of one of the golfers. The Judge hates him because he is crude and obnoxious. Czervik is a construction owner who has amassed a fortune but doesn't seem to have assimilated into polite society. Things will come to a head when the judge tries to get Czervik banned from the club for his unsavory behavior. This leads to a doubles golf match for money.

 

I don't want to give away all the details for those who may not have actually seen the movie yet but the competition between Smails and Czervik will lead to a dramatic climax. What helps the movie work is that there are a lot of little side stories throughout the movie. It is not just singularly about a golf match. Judge Smails has a niece Lacy Underall (Cindy Morgan) who has “a certain zest for living.” Those are the Judge's words. She likes to sleep around and have fun. The Judge wants to keep her exploits quiet. This provides some laughs as Danny gets caught in bed with Lacy. The judge is more concerned with keeping the information from becoming public than with anything else.

 

The movie was directed by Harold Ramis who does a fine job of balancing the comedic talents of Dangerfield, Chase, Knight and Murray. The movie was originally released in 1980 so although it has an R rating it would seem tame by today's standards. There is some brief nudity and a bit of drug use in the film so parents will have to consider that before allowing children to view the flick. 

 

This is a comedy that I recommend for people who are fans of any of the main characters. They all turn in pretty good performances and they play well off of each other. This is also good for those who wax nostalgic for raunchy comedies from that era. The theme of snobs vs slobs is one of the tried and true motifs of Hollywood comedies. It may seem a bit dated these days but it still does provide good laughs. This one is well worth seeking out. It makes for a fine addition to any movie library.