Caddyshack (1980)

(On DVD, May 2017) As a quintessential golf comedy, Caddyshack’s reputation precedes it in many ways. A favourite filler on golf TV channels, it seems to enjoy a consecrated reputation as something of a lowbrow classic. Taking a good look at it, however, may reveal a film weaker than expected. The plot zigs and zags in mystifying fashion, largely uninterested in the action of its putative teenage leads but all too eager to showcase comic routines by Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray. It makes for a clash of comic sensibilities, considering how their styles don’t necessarily belong in the same narrative. The most egregious instance of this is Dangerfield’s quasi-stand-up routine blasting the age and status of a country club members—the movie pretty much stops dead during that time. Another physical comedy bit involves nautical hijinks, while Chevy Chase has his own comic-seduction routine, and Bill Murray kind of dawdles into the movie with his own absurdist take (He’s got that going for him, which is nice) and a groundhog exists in a separate explosive movie. Very little of this actually fits together, making for a disconnected but occasionally very funny film. Caddyshack’s impact makes more sense once you find out the chaotic nature of its production and the various ways then-novice director Harold Raimis altered the film is post-production. The result is a mess, but an entertaining one—if only for seeing Chase, Dangerfield and Murray each playing up their comic persona, leaving the other aspects of the film far behind.

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