Over time, Caddyshack has become the iconic film about golf. Tin Cup, Happy Gilmore and The Legend of Bagger Vance might not present much competition, but even if they did, this farce from Harold Ramis is filled with comedy legends at their best. Never mind the fact that the plot regularly goes off track and into the rough, Caddyshack offers laughs a plenty.
If there’s ever any question over how to take the golf comedy, it’s answered in the opening moments as a gopher burrows through the uppity Bushwood Country Club much like Bugs Bunny as he travels the globe. When the gopher is shown, he’s not some faux-realistic creature overdone with animatronics. Instead, it’s a puppet like you’d find buried under the pee-stained costumes in Mrs. Boddicker’s Grade 1 classroom. Caddyshack isn’t high-brow commentary on the struggle between the upper class and middle class; it’s a cartoon that just happens to have real people in it.
The film traces a summer at the golf course starting with the sad-sack caddies who are largely high school burnouts looking for a little extra cash and could care less about the game. They’re paired in stark contrast with the club’s members, some snobbish, others carefree and reckless, all very rich and powerful in their own right. And that’s what Caddyshack boils down to – a struggle for control. The pattern at the club is the older the member, the more serious they are. Everyone in the film is looking for more control over either the club or the people inhabiting it.
Taken in shots, much like I’ve previously pieced together the film watching bits and through the constant television airings, Caddyshack has some of the funniest moments and memorable characters ever to grace the screen. The standouts include Ted Knight, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase, all of whom are playing roles perfectly suited to the comedy styles. Knight is the crusty judge who wants everything his way. Murray is an over-the-top groundskeeper obsessed with ridding Bushwood of its vermin. Dangerfield is the opposite of Knight as a crude party animal with more money than reasons to spend it. Finally, Chase provides the deepest thinking as a reflective millionaire pondering his place in the snobbish world.
While Caddyshack is hilarious, it has its faults – mainly the fact that it lacks focus. The golf course is the framework for the film, but there’s little else that holds it together. Ramis jumps from one situation to another, creating an ensemble piece that’s filled with laughs but at the same time a little frustrating in how much leeway the actors were given. While I enjoy the purity of improvisation, let unchecked and it can lead to chaos. Caddyshack doesn’t quite get to that extreme but I do believe that this is one film that plays better in chunks than it does as a whole.
Caddyshack DVD Review
The DVD release of Caddyshack comes with a solid widescreen picture and a newly remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio track. Both audio and subtitles are also in French and Spanish. Besides a trailer, the only other bonus feature is a retrospective featurette entitled “Caddyshack: The 19th Hole.”