Caddyshack: Talent Can Sometimes Overcome Script – Amazon Review (Day 15)

This movie is so funny you forget that it’s incoherent as hell.

SUMMARY

Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) is a caddie at the snobbish Bushwood Country Club trying to save for college. Danny often receives advice, and tips, from Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), an eccentric and wealthy son of one of the club’s founders. Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight) offers a scholarship which Danny tries to pursue while sucking up to the Judge. Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield), a rich slob who owns a construction company, shows up and starts playing golf at the club, upsetting Smails. At the same time, Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), a greenskeeper, is ordered to hunt down a gopher that’s been tearing up the course. He starts by trying to flood the gopher out, then shoot him, but without success.

This gopher is wily.

Danny helps his girlfriend Maggie O’Hooligan (Sarah Holcomb) wait tables at the Country Club and finds himself drawn to Smails’ niece, Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan). Danny wins the caddy golf tournament, leading Smails to invite him to the Yacht Club, where Lacey and Danny hook up and have sex in the Judge’s bed. Smails catches them, but, rather than firing Danny, lets him keep the scholarship in exchange for his discretion. 

Danny getting advice from Ty. The advice is to do drugs.

Unable to deal with Czervik’s obnoxious behavior, Smails tells him that he’ll never be a member, only for Czervik to state that he just wants to buy the club to demolish it. Ty Webb tries to get them to talk it out, only for Czervik to challenge Smails to a golf match. Webb and Czervik will play Smails and local champ Dr. Beeper (Dan Resin) for $40,000, soon doubled to $80,000. During the match, Czervik, losing, fakes an injury and Danny takes over in the tournament. On the final hole, the score is tied, with Danny having to make a tough putt to tie. Czervik doubles the bet based on whether Danny makes it, but Danny leaves the ball hanging over the lip. However, at that moment, Carl, having gone insane trying to kill the gopher, explodes a number of C-4 charges (to the tune of the “1812 Overture”), knocking the ball in and destroying the course. Czervik leads a wild party and the gopher, unharmed, dances to “I’m Alright.” 

END SUMMARY

The category for this film was “Film That Has a Line that You Quote Repeatedly,” and while there are a lot of movies that I quote frequently, this movie is the only one that has two phrases which I have used on the record in court. Both of them are by Carl Spackler, because Bill Murray improvised most of Carl’s lines, making them among the funniest and most unusual in the film. The first is “Correct me if I’m wrong, Sandy…” which, in the movie, is followed by “but if I kill all the golfers, they’re going to lock me up and throw away the key.” Due to the rarity of situations in which I am asked to kill golfers, I almost exclusively use the first part, but that is my go-to sarcastic way to clarify something ridiculous that someone says. The second line is “So, I got that goin for me, which is nice.” That line is the end of one of the most memorable parts of this movie, Carl’s speech about being a professional caddy to the Dalai Lama. I’m just going to put it below, because everyone deserves that joy in their life.

This movie was, from a production standpoint, a crapshoot. Most of the actual “plot” of the film got rewritten, re-shot, or just abandoned during filming as bigger and bigger stars got attached. The film was originally supposed to focus primarily on the caddies, particularly Danny and his desire to go to college, but once Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase and Ted Knight joined, the movie quickly became more about them than about Danny. However, since they had already scripted a bunch of scenes about the caddies, some of them were left in, leading to strange plot threads that get dropped, like the rivalry between Noonan and caddy Tony D’Annunzio (Scott Colomby), or resolved in five minutes, like Maggie’s pregnancy scare. Additionally, they kept coming up with, admittedly funny, ideas during filming, like having a Bishop play a near-perfect game of golf only to get struck by lightning when he curses as he misses the last putt. Because of this, a lot of critics correctly pointed out that this film seems scattered and incoherent. 

But who gives a crap about that, because this movie is funny as hell.

Bill Murray improvised a routine of himself playing at the Masters. It’s amazing.

Look, whether it’s coherent or not, this movie contains some of the most memorable comedy bits of my childhood. Lines and scenes from this film influence comedy writing to this day. I’ve seen multiple shows directly lift the gag of having a Baby Ruth in the pool appear to be feces. Aside from Fletch, Ty Webb is the epitome of Chevy Chase as a perfect wise-ass. His complete and utter unwillingness to behave like a normal person fits better in this movie, because he has too much money and no responsibilities. Bill Murray as Carl Spackler is a comedy archetype now, despite the fact that he had no scripted lines. Murray just improved the whole thing. It’s the only movie in which Murray and Chase have ever been on-screen together. Rodney Dangerfield’s entire film career started here, and Al Czervik was basically re-written to be Dangerfield doing his stand-up routine so that it came off as natural and genuine. Since Dangerfield was one of the biggest stand-ups in the world at the time, this makes his character hilarious. That’s basically what the movie is: A bunch of talented people playing to their strengths with almost no actual oversight. 

Pictured: Comedy Legends.

It should be mentioned that this film was notorious for the amount of drugs on set. Peter Berkrot, an actor whose role got repeatedly cut down during filming, called cocaine “the fuel that kept the film running.” I don’t know exactly who was doing what, but it’s entirely possible that the frenetic nature of the film, and Harold Ramis’s willingness to keep letting it get less coherent overall, was because everyone was coked out of their minds. 

You have to be on drugs to name a character “Lacey Underall.”

Overall, if you haven’t seen this movie, you need to. It’s got a lot of parts that might not work for you, but it’s got a hell of a lot more that will. Gunga galunga.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – The Last Laugh, or Nobody Else Will Work With Chevy: The Movie (Spoiler-Free)

Richard Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase join forces to make a comedy film about aging and… it sort of works.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Al Hart (Chevy Chase) was a professional agent for 50 years, but is now being pressured into retiring by his granddaughter, Jeannie (Kate Micucci). While touring a retirement facility, he runs into his former client, Buddy Green (Richard Dreyfuss), who encourages him to take up residence. Buddy was a promising comedian who was given his big break on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but instead walked off and pursued a medical career and a family. Buddy is mostly content with retired life, but Al quickly grows upset with it, telling Buddy that they should do a comedy tour and get him on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to make up for his missed opportunity. Along the way, Al meets Doris Lovejoy (Andie MacDowell), a free-spirited woman with whom he forms a bond. Hi-Jinks ensue.

lastlaugh - 1cast
Guess which one has an Oscar? Hint: It’s the one who admitted to doing Poseidon for money.

END SUMMARY

So… it’s pretty much a well-established fact at this point that Chevy Chase is hilarious, but also an intolerable asshole. In fact, the latter has pretty much wrecked his career because it has so overshadowed the former. If you’ve seen the Vacation movies, Fletch, the first season of SNL, Caddyshack, Funny Farm, The Three Amigos, or Community, you’re probably aware that Chevy Chase can be hilarious. If you’ve ever seen or read anything about him, you know he’s an asshole. When he left Saturday Night Live after season 1, the rest of the cast cheered. When he came back to host, he got into a fist-fight with Bill Murray on set. When he met with Kevin Smith about reviving Fletch, he drove Smith completely insane. He had one of the most famously unfunny roasts of all time, because few people showed up and those that did hated him. He was kicked off of Community for making everyone miserable, though admittedly Dan Harmon is also famously difficult to work with. Last September, the Washington Post did a report about the fact that Chevy Chase wants to work, but can’t find anyone to tolerate him. 

lastlaugh - 2finger
And Belushi was just a frenemy.

Well, good news, he found at least someone willing to put up with him long enough to film a buddy comedy. Surprisingly, that’s Richard Dreyfuss. More surprisingly, Dreyfuss is the one in the film that is a comedian. Even more surprisingly, Dreyfuss is the funnier one in the film. Not that Chase isn’t funny in some scenes, he is, but since Dreyfuss is doing the routines, he has a lot more chances to be funny. He also has the more emotional journey, having previously given up this career for a family and stability, but now having no close family or career left. It’s a great performance by a gifted actor about a man trying to take back the road not taken.

LastLaugh - 3Standup.jpg
His stand-up routines vary in quality, but I did think many were legitimately funny.

The biggest problem with the movie is that it doesn’t have much of a sense of urgency in anything that happens, which is something you do need on a road-trip comedy. Even when they do try to provide some level of it, the film just doesn’t ever feel like this really needs to be the “last” laugh, because they could just keep working at it. There is a great sequence in the film involving trying to actually get Buddy on the show and a dream sequence which does show Chase’s range, but other than that the performances are only pretty standard for the actors. Take that how you will.

Overall, I’d say that it’s only an okay movie and both of these guys have done way better. Give this one a shot if you’re a big fan of Dreyfuss, but otherwise maybe save it for when you’re old and have watched everything else.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

The Grouch on the Couch’s Father’s Day Awards

By: The Grouch on the Couch

Well, I made a list of fictional moms, so it only seems fair to do a list of fictional dads. Just like before, I picked a number, in this case 6, then picked 4 at random from a list of fictional fathers. These aren’t the “best” fathers, but they’re the ones I remember.

THE “CHANGE-OF-LIFE DAD” AWARD

George Banks (Steve Martin in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II)

FathersDayFatherOfTheBride

We only see George Banks at two points in his life. First, when he finds out that his 22-year-old daughter is going to marry a man she only has known for six months. Despite the fact that George doesn’t particularly like his new potential son-in-law, it becomes obvious that he just always loved her being “daddy’s girl” and doesn’t want that to change. Still, by the end of the first movie, he’s accepted that it’s part of life that your kids will leave, but that they’ll still love him. The second time we see George, it’s as he becomes a grandfather and, at the same time, a father again. Managing to panic simultaneously about being too young to be a grandfather and too old to be a father, George really embodies two natural fears of most men at the same time.

Steve Martin’s performance in these films always managed to be hilarious while not being disingenuous. The things that George is feeling are the things that many people in his position would feel. Despite that, he is a loving, caring father and a decent husband, though his wife, Nina (Diane Keaton), is pretty much better than him at dealing with anything. George isn’t perfect, but he’s pretty real. Also, every scene of him bonding with his kids over basketball is gold.

THE “DAD YOU LEAST WANT TO MESS WITH” AWARD

William Munny (Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven)

FathersDayUnforgiven

Unforgiven is one of the best Westerns ever made, because it’s the anti-Western. Everything that always seemed noble and idealistic about the Western Genre is run through a blender and mixed in with heavy doses of reality. The central bounty in the movie, for example, is offered by a group of prostitutes after a man disfigures one of them for laughing at the size of his genitals. Not something I remember from Roy Rogers.

The main character of the film, William Munny, is a retired gunman who is convinced to take up the bounty because otherwise he’ll lose the farm and his children’s future. In order to spare his kids from ever having to do what he’s done, Munny tracks down the cowboys. However, at the end of the film, he has to face down an entirely different posse to ensure his family’s safety and to avenge a fallen comrade. The movie, which up until this point has gone out of the way to say that there is no “cowboy who rides into town and faces down a posse without dying” then proceeds to show Munny doing EXACTLY THAT. He kills a dozen men brutally all by himself, then returns home to his family, where he, again, swears off killing.

THE “BEST DAD, WORST HUSBAND” AWARD

Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire)

FathersDayDoubtfire

Daniel Hillard isn’t the best husband. He basically dumps every responsibility in the marriage on his wife and it really isn’t that surprising when she can’t take it anymore. Due to his instability, he’s only allowed limited time with his children, something that doesn’t sit well with him, but that anyone in social work would probably agree with. But, rather than, you know, working on getting a better job or making a better home environment for his kids, he decides to A) gaslight the hell out of his now-ex-wife and B) dress up as a 60-year-old English woman and be the children’s nanny. These are not the responses of a person who you want watching over kids, something the movie flat-out tells you when a judge restricts his custody further after he’s exposed.

There’s no doubt that Daniel loves his kids. At one point he compares them to air, because he can’t live without them. And that’s really the biggest redeeming thing in the movie. As Daniel says, he can only admit that his actions were crazy because he could not live in a world where he didn’t see his kids more and, being a creative person rather than a logical one, this was the best solution he could come up with. With almost any other actor, I think this movie would fail, but Robin Williams never wavers on this being a man doing what he thinks is right. So, yeah, he went overboard, but he’s still a pretty good father, especially by the end of the movie, where he’s finally taking more responsibility for his parenting.

THE “DAD WHO DEFINED OVERBOARD” AWARD

Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase in the Vacation Films)

FathersDayClark.jpg

Clark W. Griswold dreams big. Everything he does has to be big and bright and extreme, but it’s all because that’s how he thinks family’s bond. Credit to him, by the end of every film, the family does seem to be pretty tightly-knit, although his kids are usually recast by the next movie. From amusement parks to Europe to Vegas, Clark takes his family on wild adventures that often result in some form of legal trouble and marital strife, and it’s almost always directly his fault. And when they stay home for Christmas, well, as his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) notes “we’re all in hell.”

However, the best thing about Clark, for me, will always be his rants. Usually, at some point in the movie, something will go wrong that isn’t Clark’s fault, and Clark will snap. These are typically so hilarious that even the cast has trouble pretending to be scared by Clark’s conduct, rather than laughing their asses off. I end this entry with a quote from the best one: “Hallelujah! Holy Shit! Where’s the Tylenol?

THE “CUTEST PAIR OF POPS” AWARD

Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett (Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Modern Family)

FathersDayCamMitch

Cam and Mitchell are adorable. Mitch is an uptight, introverted, worrywart who is overly focused on work and his father’s approval while Cam is the free-spirit who loves to go out and make friends. Hell, any photo of the two of them kind of makes it obvious. Mitch usually wears something conservative while Cam’s outfit’s a little more flamboyant. I love the hell out of Cam’s shirts, too. Despite this, Mitchell is often the more sensitive when dealing with confrontation while Cam, who is a former football player for University of Illinois, is more blunt and willing to use his intimidating size. However, as cute as they are in their “opposites attract” marriage, they’re better as parents.

Cam and Mitch adopt their Vietnamese daughter, Lily, at the beginning of the series, and from then on are two loving fathers, constantly doting on their little bundle of joy. While Lily didn’t speak for the first two seasons, after she starts verbalizing, she quickly starts to pick up the funniest parts of both of her fathers: Cam’s over-the-top drama queen emoting and Mitch’s sarcasm and wit. The two often run into conflicts over how they want to raise their daughter, with Cam being more experimental and Mitch being more traditional, but they ultimately manage to give their daughter the best of both worlds.

THE “DAD EVERYONE SHOULD TRY TO BE” AWARD

Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show)

FathersDayAndyTaylor

Mayberry isn’t real, and neither is someone as almost unfailingly good as Sheriff Andy Taylor, but they weren’t supposed to be. Andy Taylor was a single father whose wife died shortly after childbirth and set out to raise his son, Opie (Ron Howard), with the help of the woman who raised him, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier). Throughout the series, Andy always tends to be seen as folksy and naïve, but with a deep font of wisdom and virtue beneath, and those are the values he tries to pass on to his son. There’s already an entry on this site about one of the best examples of Andy’s parenting, but any given episode is likely to show an example.

It’s pretty telling that one of the most famous images of father-son bonding is the opening to the show, of Andy and Opie heading out to go fishing, Opie running ahead and playing with the rocks while Andy watches over him with a steady stride.

THE “DAD YOU SHOULD PROBABLY NOT BE” AWARD

Hal Wilkerson (Bryan Cranston in Malcolm in the Middle)

FathersDayHal.jpg

Malcolm in the Middle was a show about people who were pretty much failures. The eldest son, Francis (Christopher Masterson), is such a problem that he ended up dropping out of military school to go to Alaska, all in the name of spiting his mother. The next son, Reese (Justin Berfield), is a criminal to the extent that he has a regular cell at the jail and refuses any scholastic endeavors, intentionally failing to graduate once. Malcolm (Frankie Muniz), despite being a supergenius, is constantly in trouble and jeopardizing his future by trying to keep up with his two older brothers. The youngest son, for most of the series, Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan), is also extremely intelligent and talented, but is typically the victim of his big brothers’ antics. The kids are so misbehaved that it pretty much takes the iron will of their mother, Lois (Jane Kaczmerak), to keep them in line. And that’s because Hal doesn’t really step up much.

Hal’s not much of a disciplinarian, he often joins his kids in troublemaking, and he often gets so caught up in fads and obsessions that he ignores his family. Moreover, it’s all because he loves banging his wife. No, really, in one episode, Hal and Lois can’t have sex for 2 weeks and become successful parents and people. But, Hal’s not a “bad” dad. He loves his kids, even though they drive him nuts, and he does try to help them when they’re in trouble. At the end of the series, though, it’s revealed that everything he and Lois do is part of Lois’s master plan to have Malcolm become the best president in US History, which… makes it better, maybe?

THE “BEST ADOPTED DAD” AWARD

“Uncle” Philip Banks (James Avery on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

FathersDayUnclePhil.jpeg

Philip Banks was a rebel in his youth. He was a civil rights activist in Selma in 1965, he heard Malcolm X speak, and he was the first black child to use a white toilet in North Carolina during segregation. Then, he got a scholarship to Princeton, then went to Harvard Law, and became super wealthy with a mansion in Bel-Air. He has three kids of his own, and then agrees to take in his wife’s nephew, Will (Will Smith), with whom he constantly spars. Will thinks that Phil is a sellout, while Phil says Will doesn’t show him enough respect for all the work he put in helping to advance race relations. This isn’t helped by Phil’s son Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro), who acts like a stereotypical WASP. However, as the series goes on, Will slowly becomes a part of the family.

Then, there is the episode where Will’s dad, Lou (Ben Vereen), comes back. Now, up until this point, they hadn’t really addressed what happened with Will’s dad, but it turns out that he just abandoned his family after Will was born. He comes back, trying to bond with Will, who quickly grows close to him, before trying to leave again. Phil angrily confronts Lou about shirking his responsibilities as a father, which Lou quickly just says he “didn’t want.” Lou then leaves Will again, leading Will to tell him off in one of the most emotional scenes on TV, before finally hugging Phil, with Phil finally being the father Will never had.

THE “BEST DAD IN FILM” AWARD

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird)

FathersDayAtticusFinch

Atticus Finch will consistently top any list of best fictional lawyers, but I also have to put him on here as a great father. Atticus is one of the few people in fiction to really try to teach his children the lesson that it doesn’t matter what people think of you as long as you can look inside and know that you’re doing the right thing and that it’s never worth fighting someone just over name calling. In both the movie and the book, we’re shown how much it hurts his daughter Scout to think of her father as a coward, though she later realizes that’s the last adjective to put on him.

At the end of the film/book, Atticus has proven that he is the best man within the town, but, rather than ending with the trial or the departure of Boo Radley, the book ends with Atticus calmly holding his daughter before carrying her in to bed. That’s the real triumph, that, after the events of the story, Atticus returns to just being a normal father, devoted to his children from the beginning to the end.

I’m not considering the “sequel” book when making this determination, just the film. In Go Set a Watchman, people felt betrayed by Atticus Finch now being an advocate for segregation. What’s interesting is that, apparently, this may be because it was written first and Atticus Finch was based on Harper Lee’s father, who originally favored segregation before later supporting integration by the time Lee re-wrote the book into To Kill a Mockingbird. So, it’s possible that Atticus’s reversed opinions is based on the order of authorship being reversed. Still, at the end of that book, the message is that Scout still loves her father because her father loves her and has always been supportive of her even when they disagreed, so he’s still a pretty great dad.

I dedicate this to my own father, to whom I am a perpetual disappointment, but who I respect above all other men.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews. If you want more from the Grouch on the Couch, check out his rants here, and wait a few weeks for another big entry.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.