Happy Gilmore (1996) - Shat The Movies Podcast

HAPPY GILMORE (1996)              

It has taken me over twenty years to bring myself to watch this movie. There were several reasons for the delay. First and foremost, I simply cannot be bothered with Adam Sandler. He can’t act, he can’t write and he can’t make me laugh. The man is a complete non-event in every sense of the word. Perhaps, if his movies had a shred of worthwhile story or dialogue I might soften my opinion of him. But alas, they do not. None of them. He does, however, amaze me. Why? Because he makes millions churning out this garbage. Millions! Presumably, the bulk of his fans are juveniles; more than likely the same crowd who spend their dollars on rap music as they labour under the delusion that such tuneless doggerel has value and is difficult to create. Mozart, Strauss, Cole Porter, et al must be spinning like tops in their graves.

Happy Gilmore is the first Sandler film that I have seen through to the end. And I expect to get a medal for doing so. In all honesty I gritted my teeth and laboured through this rubbish just so I could write this piece with full knowledge of the picture. It is a monstrosity of a film, consisting of temper tantrums, physical violence, moronic behaviour and offensive language – all courtesy of Mr. Sandler’s character Happy Gilmore. The plot (such as it is) is pathetic. ‘Happy’, who has been practicing ice hockey all his life but is devoid of any ability, picks up a golf club for the first time, (a wooden-shafted one at that), and instantly belts the golf ball 400 yards, dead-straight! And he does so every time! This is enough to get him into a world class tournament as some kind of ‘wild card’. Why? Because the public adores both him and his antics and he has become an instant drawcard. It gets worse.

Adam Sandler Proves He Can Still Drive a Golf Ball Like Happy Gilmore – The Hollywood Reporter

Carl Weathers & Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore

Having never had a golfing lesson in his life, his 400 yard drives should be rendered useless if he cannot putt. And he cannot putt to save his life. Enter 48 year-old Carl Weathers (as a kind of golfing coach named Chubbs, 20 years after he played Apollo Creed in Rocky back in ’76), whose only piece of putting instruction is – ‘think about your ‘happy place’. Happy visualizes his love interest (played by Julie Bowen, a decade before she hit it big as Denise Bauer in Boston Legal), sprawled on a divan in her underwear and holding a jug of beer in each hand. Behind her is his beloved grandmother, playing a slot machine and winning handfuls of coin. Between the two of them rides a midget cowboy on a wooden horse! Why? I haven’t the foggiest idea. Julie later told an interviewer that there was a sequence cut from the final print that showed her making out with the midget! The probable reason for the cut (I presume) was to preserve the PG-13 rating. Anyway, Chubbs’ invaluable slice of coaching was enough for Happy to win the cherished gold jacket, but not without some dramatic hitches along the way.

Shooter McGavin! 'Happy Gilmore' actor Christopher McDonald spotted in Syracuse - syracuse.com

Gilmore’s nemesis ‘Shooter’ McGavin, played by Christopher McDonald

His opponent, ‘Shooter’ McGavin, (played by Christopher McDonald, five years after his stint as Geena Davis’s chauvinist husband in 1991’s Thelma & Louise), was one of the most one-dimensional bad guys imaginable. According to McDonald, he originally turned down the role of ‘Shooter’ but reconsidered because he had enjoyed Sandler’s previous film Billy Madison (1995). He re-read the script for Happy Gilmore, was satisfied with it, met with Sandler, was impressed by him, and decided to accept the role. McDonald has since said it was one of the best decisions of his career. And he is not alone in this. Sandler himself considers Happy Gilmore to be his favourite movie role and, indeed, the best of his own films.

Julie Bowen Makes An Unexpected Confession About Happy Gilmore

Barely recognizable Julie Bowen as Gilmore’s love interest

The picture was made on a $12 million budget. It grossed over $8 million in the first weekend of its release in the USA. Eventually, it grossed $38 million in America and $41 million worldwide. Incredible as it seems, this movie, (coupled with the rise of Tiger Woods around that time), has been credited with the surge in popularity of golf among young people in the late 1990s and early 2000s. If that is so, (the Happy Gilmore part of it that is), I weep for the youth of this world. Then again, TV reality shows are all the rage these days so there appears to be no accounting for taste among their elders either.

richard kiel happy gilmore – TheCount.com

Richard Kiel (nail in his head and all)

For those who feel my criticism of this tripe is unwarranted and a tad harsh, I direct your attention to a few scenes hitherto not mentioned. Happy gets run down by a fan in a Volkswagen as he walks down a fairway but chooses to play on. After hitting his ball into a water hazard he promptly dives in fully-clothed and finds it among the scores of balls at rest on the lakebed. Why? In another scene his ball comes to rest in an alligator’s open mouth. He immediately throws himself upon the beast and head-butts it into unconsciousness before retrieving his ball. When ‘Shooter’s ball comes to rest on the foot of a spectator (Richard Kiel), he is informed by a rules official that he must play it from ‘where it lies’. Sheesh! Kiel, incidentally, is probably memorable to James Bond fans for playing ‘Jaws’ in two 007 films, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker in 1979), attends the golf tournament whilst still sporting a 4-inch nail protruding from his skull! This was fired by Happy from a nail-gun when he was working for the big lug, in what was supposed to be a hilarious scene. It wasn’t.

In the finale of Happy Gilmore a camera tower crashes to the 18th green blocking Happy’s ball from the hole 20 or so feet away. He opts to putt anyway and proceeds to bounce his shot off the Volkswagen, the scaffolding and other wreckage, until it rolls down half a dozen gutters and into the cup. Gee, what a surprise! Sandler was one of the writers of this crud. Did he know anything about golf at all? Obviously not. Does he know anything about making worthwhile movies? Even less. I realize he deals in so-called comedy but does it have to be so infantile and tasteless? Clearly, his fans (and they number in the millions) don’t seem to mind his childish screenplays because they keep coming back for more.


  1. A friend of mine is surprised that I don’t find either Sandler or Farrell funny. However, he is the kind of person who is amused by every comedian no matter how mediocre their talents. I find THAT surprising.

  2. I have not seen this movie but recently saw one that sounds like they copied this one. He was a waterboy, who it turns out he can run with the football and score like nobodys business. Henry Winkler was in it and was pretty stupid. I never got excited about him either and agree 100 per cent with you, on this one.

  3. On your watching Adam Sandler: I guess everyone must be forgiven a temporary bout of insanity and do hope that your usual clearheaded thinking will return soon.

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