I used to work at a bookstore at a college. When it wasn’t the beginning or the end of a semester, work was pretty laid back. One day my boss came in and said ‘I was listening to the radio and they were doing a count down of the 10 greatest sports movies as voted by athletes, do you know what was voted number one? I immediately said Caddyshack. My boss was so shocked I got it right on my first guess that he thought I listened to the same radio show. But the simple fact was that it was either going to be that or Major League.
Not only is Caddyshack one of the greatest sports film ever made, it’s also one of the greatest comedies ever written. The film contains amazing improv-ed scenes by Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase as well as incredible dialogue written by Harold Ramis and Brian Doyle-Murray.
The film follows Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) a caddy at Bushwood Country Club saving up money to go to college. Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), is the wealthy son of one of the founders. Ty has taken quite a liking to Danny, constantly asking him to caddy for him as well as giving him advice on life and love. Meanwhile the Danny decides to caddy for co-founder Judge Smails (Ted Knight) in hopes of getting a better chance at winning the Caddy College Scholarship.
The flamboyant real estate tycoon Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) arrives to the country club and immediately becomes a hit with everyone but Smails and a few of is snobby friends (including Dr. Beeper).
While all this is going on assistant groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Billy Murray) has been given the assignment of catching a gopher that’s been wrecking havoc on the course.
The film as both 4 plot lines and no plot lines at the exact same time. We follow each character for a few minutes each in a series of vignettes. This makes it easy for us to follow the minimal amount of Danny Noonan’s story while getting the most of Ty Webb, Al Czervik and Carl Spackler. The gopher (the runaway star of the film) is constantly popping up and breaking up the vignettes more smoothly. One could almost argue that Caddyshack is a sketch-comedy film but all the sketches take place in one location with the same re-occurring characters.
All of these Vignettes meet at the climax of the film. Al Czervik is interested in buying Bushwood off Judge Smails and challenges him to a golf game for $20,000. They decide to play teams, Judge taking Dr. Beeper and Al teaming up with Ty. In the end due to a ‘freak injury’, Danny has to finish the game in place of Al (who promises to make it worth his wild if he wins). The game is won by Danny not because of a great final shot but because Carl accidentally blows up half the course trying to exterminate the Gopher. The explosion causes that ball to roll into the hole.
The first time I saw Caddyshack I was way too young to see Caddyshack. But alas it’s one of my dad’s all time favorite films and he couldn’t wait to share it with me. Much like anyone else who saw this film when they were too young to see it, the things the remember the most are the Gopher and Rodney Dangerfield. Actually... now that I’m thinking about it, I remember the exact circumstances that lead to my dad showing me this movie.
I was in elementary school and my parents were flipping through the channels. They caught the ending of Caddyshack on television and figured I’d enjoy the dancing gopher (they were right). My dad decided that it was time to show me all of Caddyshack. Keep in mind that my father also rented a group of 5th grade boys Heaven Help Us, Porky’s and Hollywood Knights for a birthday sleepover.
I liked Caddyshack right off the bat, but it wasn’t until I was in High School I that I truly learned to love it. When you’re young, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray steal the show. As you grow up and you start paying attention to the dialogue you start to realize how incredible Chevy Chase is. It was in discovering Chevy Chase’s brilliance that lead me to dig up Vacation, Fletch and other Chase 80’s classics.
All the credit can’t be given to Chevy Chase though, Harold Ramis is one of the best writers of the 80’s. If that wasn’t obvious enough with the early inclusion of Ghostbusters. It contains such one-liners as ‘Thank you very little’, and ‘A Flute without holes is not a flute. A donut without holes, is a Danish.’ However the most classic moments of Caddyshack are the improvised things like Cinderella Story, Carl and Ty smoking pot in Carl’s shack and damn near every line of dialogue spoken by Rodney Dangerfield.
1980 started off strong with Caddyshack and set the comedy bar pretty high. Apparently 77 films set it higher in my opinion.
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