Danny Noonan is a young caddy at Bushwood Country Club who has no idea about where his future will lead. His best chance at getting his life on track is to earn a caddy scholarship from Judge Elihu Smails, the owner of the Country Club. Al Czervik is a rude, and overly eccentric millionaire who has interests in purchasing Bushwood. Judge Smails shows a quick disliking towards Al and soon there is a conflict between the Judge and Al, the Judge and Danny, and even between the Judge and Ty Webb the charming golfer who is slowly helping Danny figure out his real goals. On the outside of this is Carl Spackler the Golf Course Grounds keeper, who's goal is eliminate a rampaging gopher who is chewing up holes throughout the golf course.
Chevy Chase ... Ty Webb
Rodney Dangerfield ... Al Czervik
Ted Knight ... Judge Elihu Smails
Michael O'Keefe ... Danny Noonan
Bill Murray ... Carl Spackler
Sarah Holcomb ... Maggie O'Hooligan
Scott Colomby ... Tony D'Annunzio
Cindy Morgan ... Lacey Underall
Dan Resin ... Dr. Beeper
Henry Wilcoxon ... The Bishop
Elaine Aiken ... Mrs. Noonan
Albert Salmi ... Mr. Noonan
Ann Ryerson ... Grace
Brian Doyle-Murray ... Lou Loomis
Hamilton Mitchell ... Motormouth
Crudeness doesn't come much more, well, crude, than 1980's sublime "Caddyshack". In fact, this crazy quilt takes the slob groundwork laid by "National Lampoon's Animal House" and one-ups that collegiate comedy classic by having a carelessly mean, anarchic spirit a mile wide and a foot deep.
It's little surprise that writer/director Harold Ramis and co-writer Douglas Kenney were also scribes on that 1978 John Belushi hit. As "Caddyshack" shows, there's gold in them 'thar poop jokes.
But this is not just a crass comedy, it's a HAPPILY crass comedy, that does just about whatever it wants as it casually wanders through it's 90-odd minutes. The DNA of "Caddyshack" resides somewhere in the cinematic in-between world of the aforementioned "Animal House" and a Three Stooges or W.C. Fields picture. There's a giddiness to its nose-thumbing, and a general pleasure in its coarse eagerness to offend.
The screenplay forms a functional spine for what actually amounts to a comedy collision course of witty asides, broad physical comedy, dirty jokes, varied comedic styles and big explosions.
But is there really a screenplay here? The film has such a loose and free-wheeling timbre to it that it would be hard not to fault the viewer in thinking that the film was largely improvised, or at least rewritten by committee on set, scene by scene.
This film was widely *rumoured* to be "under the influence" during shooting, but whatever the cast and crew were "using" seemed to work very much in favor of movie, as the flick turned out to be editorially messy and open-structured, yet well-paced and coherent enough to embrace the variety of comedic opinions squeezed into the picture. This is what you get - a smörgåsbord of laughs. You get a Chevy Chase doing his ironic bit, you have one Bill Murray essaying a bizarre-o mental case, good old Ted Knight going into slow-burn histrionics every scene, and Rodney Dangerfield stealing every scene with large chunks of his stand-up act. This shouldn't work, this mix - but it does. Very well.
Again, the looseness of the pace and tone of the film forgive some of the storytelling framework featuring young go-getter Michael O'Keefe's attempt to get a college scholarship during one crazy summer caddying for Bushwood Country Club's weirdest members. Instead, Ramis, Kenney and (Bill's brother) Brian Doyle Murray set each of these comedians up with sketch-like scenarios for some of their finest and funniest work.
The movie is mean in all the right places - It's the snobs against the slobs, as the advertising says. "Caddyshack" takes barbed pot-shots at the class system, at sex, at religion, at bodily functions. No joke is too risqué, no candy bar too gross to eat from the bottom of a empty pool. It has lots of swearing, nudity for nudity's sake, and insults for the pompous and pathetic. Even through its R-rated mean-spiritedness, it's hard to truly be turned off of the film's antagonistic spirit - it earns it's laughs because it's breathlessly paced and damned funny. This is the thematic mold that the Farrellys and Adam Sandler rarely get right.
"Caddyshack" is endlessly quotable, and surely if you sat around with a few friends anytime in the last 25 years, you could probably spend a good hour reciting lines and scenes that still hold all their glorious funny these many years later.
The movie's best scene? My award goes to the "Night Putting" sequence where Chevy Chase's Ty Webb and Bill Murray Carl the Greenskeeper finally meet up when Chase fires a Titleist through the window of Murray's lean-to shed-slash-residence. This never fails to get big laughs, and it's a real meeting of the minds. A great sequence for the Comedy Hall of Fame, I'd say.
Kenny Loggins' catchy songs ("I'm Alright" anyone?) and the jazzy Johnny Mandel (!) orchestral score add a unexpectedly lovely sheen that spit-shines the crudity of subject and filmmaker's style. They're nice touches.
You can put "Caddyshack" next to "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane" - not just in the "C" section of your local video store, but as in "Classic". Comedies don't come much funnier than this.
`National Lampoon's Animal House' may have been one of the first comedies to evolve from the `Saturday Night Live' generation, but it could be argued that `Caddyshack,' directed by Harold Ramis-- and which features two SNL alumni, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray-- actually spawned the entire `SNL genre,' of films, because this is the one that seemed to lock in that formulaic irreverence toward all things, of which they are so indicative. The story here revolves around a young man named Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe), a caddy at the upscale Bushwood Country Club, who is bucking for a caddy scholarship to get him into college. Danny figures that the best shot he has at it is to volunteer for the assignment none of the other caddies want-- to caddy for the up-tight Judge Smails (Ted Knight), one of the executive directors of Bushwood, and `kiss up' a bit. Smails responds by letting Danny mow his lawn and attend a christening ceremony for his new yacht. But Danny is not one to be deterred, even when the good Judge tells him `The world needs ditch diggers, too.' He just goes on, keeping his eyes and his options open.
And it isn't long before Danny gets involved with Ty Webb (Chase), an independently wealthy goof-ball with a Zen/Chaplin philosophy of life, whose father was one of Judge Smails' partners in Bushwood. So Danny takes some advice from Ty while caddying for him; advice which just may ultimately have an effect on whether or not he gets his scholarship. Or maybe not. Words of wisdom like `Be the Ball,' and `A donut with no hole is a danish,' may not be what he needs to put him on the fast track to success. But then again, you never know; it's that kind of movie. And there's no getting around it, this is funny stuff.
The humor in this movie runs the gamut from broad to subtle, with at least two sight gags thrown in that identify it as belonging to the genre it helped create. At the time of it's theatrical release, in 1980, it was fairly on the cutting edge of comedy; by today's standards, though, it doesn't seem nearly as irreverent, especially given the digressive trend in the genre lately, which has spewed forth such fare as `Freddy Got Fingered,' and `Road Trip.' Then again, this one had Harold Ramis behind the camera, and Ramis has an acute sense of comedic timing, he knows what works, and he made the most of the basic screenplay (by Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray and Douglas Kenney) and the terrific cast of comedians with which he had to work, all of whom fit so well into the pattern and fabric of this particular picture.
Rarely does a comedy (or any film for that matter) have so many actors who fit their characters so perfectly as in this film, beginning with Chevy Chase, who embodies the slightly skewed and off-center Ty Webb so well it's almost frightening. Webb is a guy who veritably floats through life in a perpetual Zen-like state of distraction, and it makes you realize that there probably really are characters like this walking around in the real world. But if the existence of a Ty Webb type is only highly probable, there's no doubt whatsoever about the fact that there are guys like Al Czervik amongst us.
Rodney Dangerfield plays Czervik, the obnoxious, fun-loving, high-rolling land developer with a specially made golf club and an eye on Bushwood. In Czervik, Dangerfield creates a character who is outrageous, droll, lacks any taste whatsoever, and is entirely hilarious. It is, without question, the best character and performance of Dangerfield's cinematic career, and -- like Chase-- it's almost scary the way he fits into the character so naturally and completely.
The real heart of this movie, however, is Bill Murray, who turns in what just may be the definitive Murray performance with his character, Carl Spackler, the Assistant Greenskeeper at Bushwood. Murray brings Carl, the socially and intellectually challenged man-with-a-plan, to life with subtle nuance and a flare of comedic genius. A lot of what he did in this film was improvised, including much of his two most memorable and hilarious scenes, one in which he's describing his encounter with the Dalai Lama, and the other being his soliloquy of the `Cinderella Boy' on the course at Atlanta. This is truly inspired, funny stuff, and it proves what can be done without resorting to banal vulgarity or crudeness (not that this film is entirely devoid of it, but at least it's tempered here somewhat-- not so overt and in-your-face like you'll often find in some of the more recent offerings of the genre). And there's a harmless shiftiness about Carl, who is about as deep as a pan pizza, and Murray plays it all beautifully.
O'Keefe gives a solid performance, as well, but he's basically the straight man here, the set-up guy for one funny situation after another. And he does it quite nicely.
Also giving memorable performances are Ted Knight, as the rigid, conservative Judge, and Brian Doyle-Murray as Lou Loomis, who oversees the caddies at Bushwood.
The supporting cast includes Sarah Holcomb (Maggie), Scott Colomby (Tony), Cindy Morgan (Lacey Underall), Dan Resin (Dr. Beeper), Henry Wilcoxon (The Bishop), Albert Salmi (Mr. Noonan), John F. Barmon Jr. (Spaulding Smails) and Lois Kibbee (Mrs. Smails). With this film, Ramis and company honed the formula for comedy that incorporated pop culture and contemporary sensibilities into it like never before. And `Caddyshack' is an example of it in it's purest form; you'll have to look long and hard to find anything out of this same mold today that can come close to the prototype. It's one of those movies that gets even better with age-- and funnier, too. It's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.
Every single scene in this movie rocks big-time. It's hard to say which of the actors steal the show as Chase, Knight, Dangerfield and Murray try their best to run away with the movie. But if I had to make a decision I would have to say that this IS Dangerfield's movie. His sleazy, friendly, insulting, buffoonish and graciously tipping character is the centrepiece of this movie, which pre-dates the Airplane-style humor of visual gags and jokes.
There ain't much plot but there is still more than there is in the standard comedy modern movies. The film cuts to about 5 different sub-plots at regular intervals. The funniest of which being Murray's ever ridiculous attempts to catch a pesky gofer. I love those scenes. The gopher looks so fake and so cute, he's literally a stuffed toy being moved by hand off-camera.
Ted Knight's Judge Smails is a hoot. The pompous and self-important arrogance mixes well with his cluelessness of how to be gentlemanly towards people and his clumsiness. He is bull-headed, acting without thinking and always letting his rage get the better of him. This is a perfect personification of the majority of courtroom Judges.
Chase does a good job as hedonistic playboy golfer Ty Webb and his ONLY scene with Bill Murray is THE best pure dialogue scene in film history. The total crap that they talk is funny as hell. And so is the whole movie. Forget the sequel. See this movie when you get the chance.
* Bill Murray improvised the "Cinderella story" sequence from two lines of stage direction. Director 'Harold Ramis' simply asked Murray to emulate a kid announcing his own fantasy sports moment. Murray simply asked for four rows of 'mums and did the scene in one take.
* The famous scene that begins when Ty Webb's golf ball crashes into Carl Spackler's ramshackle house was not in the original script. It was added by director 'Harold Ramis' after realizing his two biggest stars, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray, did not have a scene together. The three met for lunch and wrote the scene together. Although the scene has nothing to do with the plot, it is widely regarded as the funniest in the movie. This is the only time that Chase and Murray have appeared in a movie together.
* Cindy Morgan (Lacy Underall) has said that the oil massage scene with Chevy Chase was also completely improvised. When Lacy exclaims "You're crazy!" that was Morgan genuine reaction to Chase dousing her with oil.
* The noise the Gopher makes are actually vocalized by a dolphin, and the dolphin sound effects used are the same ones that were used for "Flipper" (1964).
* The character of Lou, played by the film's co-writer Brian Doyle-Murray, is the only one to actually say the word "caddyshack".
* According to Scott Colomby on the DVD extras, he only took up smoking after playing the part of cigarette-puffing Tony.
* The movie was inspired by writer and co-star Brian Doyle-Murray's memories working as a caddy at a golf club. His brother Bill Murray and director 'Harold Ramis' also worked as caddies when they were teenagers.
* The reason the scenes of Mr. Gopher's underground world look better than the rest of the film is because they were film on a sound-stage with better quality film stock and cameras rather than on location like the majority of the film.
* The song being played by the musical horn on Al Czervik's Rolls Royce is "We're In The Money"
* The movie's line "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac...It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!" was voted as the #92 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
* Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
* In the scene where the Bishop (played by veteran actor Henry Wilcoxon) is having his best round of golf ever during a thunderstorm, he misses an easy putt, looks skyward and yells "rat farts!", and is immediately struck down by a bolt of lightning. The background music in this scene was from Cecil B. DeMille's classic The Ten Commandments (1956), in which Wilcoxon played the part of Pentaur.
* The movie's line "So I got that going for me, which is nice." was voted as the #49 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
* The rowdy, improvisational atmosphere around the filming, created by 'Harold Ramis' , Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Rodney Dangerfield, didn't sit well with all the members of the cast. Ted Knight, widely regarded as a very nice man, got fed up with the constant shenanigans. Initially, Murray's and Dangerfield's role were to be cameo appearances. But their deft improvising caused their roles to be expanded much to the chagrin of Scott Colomby and some of the other cast members whose roles were reduced as a result.
* Unsurprisingly, the movie is a huge favorite among golfers and golf fans. Tiger Woods so adores the movie, he played Carl Spackler in an American Express commercial that included references to many of the movie's most famous scenes.
* 'Harold Ramis' based the character of Carl Spackler on a slightly deranged police officer who was a shell-shocked war veteran.
* The gopher sequences were written and filmed after most of the movie was shot. Originally, director 'Harold Ramis' wanted to cast a live animal to play the gopher. When that did not work out, the animatronic gopher and its tunnels were built by John Dykstra.
* According to Harold Ramis on the DVD Commentary, he claims that he wanted to score the movie to Pink Floyd music but the studio wouldn't allow him to do that.