Happy Gilmore (1996) — Hockey loser becomes golf superstar

“Happy learned how to putt! Uh-oh!”

Justin’s rating: A hole in one

Justin’s review: This review is brought to you by Subway. Mmm, Subway. Healthy food prepared by so-called “Sandwich Artists”, who presumably went to Hogie University and earned a four-year degree. Ah, Subway. Is there a more patriotic food? If there is, I don’t want to hear about it.

There are some who call golf a sport of extreme skill and mastery. Then there are some who call it an excuse to wander around in bad clothing on a well-manicured lawn. There are some who will spend hours, nay, entire lunar phases debating exactly how to wiggle your butt just right before you swing the little stick to hit the little ball toward the little hole. There are some who cannot flick by golfing TV shows fast enough to get to their precious MTV.

So where does this wise reviewer fall in the golf debate? Well, a long time ago I would have scoffed along with the best cynics, but then I got roped into playing a game with some friends. During this, I dislocated my knee on the second swing. As the ambulance rolled onto the green to retrieve my twitching body, two thoughts rolled through my mind:

1. I have now lost all rights to ever mock golf again.

2. This clipped grass is pretty comfortable to lay on for long periods of time.

So unlike myself, Adam Sandler successfully bridged the gap between pro- and anti-golf fans in his opus, Happy Gilmore. In a quest to raise money to save his grandmother’s house, Happy discovers that his hockey days have taught him to drive a golf ball over incredible distances. Eventually his skill lands him in the PGA tour, where he goes head-to-head with the traditional Snooty Jerk Antagonist (played hilariously by Christopher McDonald).

It took a long time for Adam Sandler to win me over. To this day, Billy Madison does irk me a bit. I lie in bed at night muttering, “stupid billy stupid billy” until my neighbors spray hoses through my window. I just had a hard time ever rooting for a character that I would attack, rabid-ferret-like, in real life.

However, Happy Gilmore is more of a balanced character, playing between the insane, epithet-spewing Adam Sandler and the likable, aww-shucks Sandler. Probably the best aspect of Sandler’s Shakespearean acting skills lie in his yell. He does a terrific primordial yalp that conveys all levels of anxiety, frustration, and general bewilderment. It’s a guy yell, and one that is worth learning.

Happy Gilmore is a true gem of a sports comedy. There’s the now-traditional Sandler trademark of having bizarre characters pop in, existing for the mere reason that they’re strange. There’s a battle of fisticuffs between Happy and Bob Barker, which makes the price of admission worth it, easily. And over it all prevails a spirit of fondness and teasing for the game of golf. It’s hard to make golf, um, what’s the word? Interesting. Yes, interesting. Yet this flick makes me almost slow down while flipping past any PGA tournament. Of course, if there’s an Evil Dead marathon on, golf doesn’t stand a chance.

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