Happy Gilmore

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) is an aspiring ice hockey player who possesses a powerful and dangerous slapshot that his late father taught him as a child. However, Happy also possesses an overaggressive streak and lack of skating talent that consistently preclude him from joining a hockey team. His grandmother (Frances Bay), who raised him after his father died and Happy’s mother had left the family, has not paid her taxes for many years. As such, she owes $275,000 to the IRS, and the house that Happy’s late grandfather “built with his bare hands” is about to be seized. Gilmore has only three months to come up with the money or else the house will be sold. Grandma Gilmore is forced to temporarily move into a retirement home, run by a sadistic manager named Hal (Ben Stiller in an uncredited role).

While repossessing Grandma’s furniture, a pair of movers challenge Happy to hit golf balls. With his unorthodox, hockey slapshot-style swing (running up to the ball instead of standing over it), he hits the ball 400 yards three times, winning $40 as a result. This gives Happy the idea to go to the driving range to hustle golfers with his swing. When his progress is noticed by former golf star and current club pro Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers), whose pro golf career ended when his right hand was bitten off by an alligator, he convinces Happy to enter a local tournament by telling him he can make the money to buy back his grandmother’s house. Happy wins the tournament and earns a spot on the Pro Golf Tour (fictionalized golf tour based on the PGA Tour). Chubbs advises Happy to wait to join the tour for six months, so that Chubbs can make him a better all-around golfer. Against Chubbs’ advice, Happy joins the tour immediately due to the fact that Happy needs to come up with the money for his Grandma’s house less than three months.

On the tour, Happy makes an instant enemy of pretentious and arrogant star Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald), who sees Happy as both a detriment to golf and a threat to his career. In addition, Happy discovers that although he has a powerful drive, his putting is terrible, and his violent outbursts and lack of golf etiquette eventually prompt Shooter to ask Doug Thompson (Dugan), the commissioner of the tour, to expel Happy. But Happy’s antics are garnering the tour’s highest television ratings, increasing attendance, drawing more youthful sponsors, and Happy isn’t breaking any rules, and Shooter’s request is denied. To help Happy cool down and start acting more professionally, tour PR head Virginia Venit (Julie Bowen) is assigned to him by the tour, and a romance forms between the two. Happy begins to develop a cooler head while continuing to improve in tournaments much to the chagrin of Shooter, who decides to cheat and employ Donald (Joe Flaherty), a mentally unbalanced fan, to heckle Happy at the next tournament, the Pepsi Pro-Am, a tournament where tour pros team up with celebrities.

At the tournament, Happy is paired with Bob Barker, then host/executive producer of the long-running CBS Daytime game show, The Price Is Right. Donald immediately starts taunting Happy, taking his focus off his game so much that he plays terribly. Exasperated at Happy’s poor performance, Barker even begins criticizing him before they break into a full-scale brawl, in which Barker knocks Happy unconscious. As a result, Happy is suspended from the tour and fined $25,000, but secures an endorsement deal with Subway, which gives him enough money to buy back Grandma’s house and pay the fine.

However, Happy discovers that the house is to be sold at an auction. Despite bidding the originally required $275,000, Happy is outbid by Shooter, who has purchased the house to leverage a deal with Happy – he will let him have the house back in return for quitting the tour. Instead, Happy decides to make a bet with his rival based on the upcoming Tour Championship – if Happy places higher than Shooter, he gets the house back, but if Happy finishes behind Shooter he will leave the tour; Shooter agrees. Although Virginia is confident Happy will win, Happy is not as confident. He seeks the help of Chubbs, admitting his past mistakes. Together they head to a miniature golf course so Happy can improve his putting, which he does. Pleased with Happy’s progress, Chubbs gives his protege a modified putter, fashioned in the shape of a hockey stick, as a present to use for the tournament. In return, Happy presents Chubbs with the head of the alligator that took his hand (which Happy had killed in a previous tournament). Horrified by the sight, Chubbs reels backward and falls out an open window to his death.

Determined to win the tournament for Chubbs, Happy is evenly matched with Shooter after the first two rounds. Shooter is stunned that Happy has been keeping up with him, and by the end of the third day of the tournament, Happy is leading Shooter. In desperation, Shooter once again cheats and calls on Donald. The next day Donald hits Happy with a Volkswagen Beetle, which he proceeds to ram into a television tower at the 18th hole. An injured Happy refuses to forfeit the tournament, but quickly discovers that he is too hurt to hit the long drive and drops from the lead by several shots heading into the final holes. However, after applying a lesson from Chubbs, and receiving an important morale boost from Grandma, he is able to refocus and ties Shooter going to the 18th hole. After Shooter makes his shot for par, the TV tower collapses and blocks Happy’s putt for birdie. Happy is forced to take his shot with the tower in the way, and uses what Chubbs taught him on the miniature golf course to make a trick shot to win the Tour Championship and the house.

Afterwards, a hysterical Shooter attempts to steal Happy’s gold jacket, but is quickly beaten up by Happy’s old boss, Mr. Larson (Richard Kiel), and an angry mob of spectators. Back at Grandma’s house, the film closes with Happy being congratulated by the two-handed ghost of Chubbs, Abraham Lincoln, and the alligator.


Sometimes to see the true genius of an actor, you have to go back to their early work. This is the case with Adam Sandler, as many of his recent film have been utter crap. Even someone as forgiving as I found little to laugh at with those. Not wanting to forget how funny Sandler can actually be, I went way back to his early days and watched Happy Gilmore. Hopefully, this wasn’t a mistake.

What is this about?

Failed hockey player turned golf whiz Happy Gilmore — whose unconventional approach and antics on the links spark the ire of rival Shooter McGavin — is determined to win a PGA tournament to save his grandmother’s house with the prize money.

What did I like?

Schtick. These days, it seems as if Adam Sandler’s manchild schtick has worn thin on audiences. While I may still be a fan on his antics, your average moviegoer probably doesn’t feel the same. Watching this film took me back to the day when this routine was fresh and new, causing us to realize that Sandler was an alleged genius.

Golf. I’m not a fan of golf. It is just too uptight and stuffy for my taste, not to mention the fact that watching it is just plain, flat-out boring. I’m sure Sandler felt the same way when he was writing this film. Why else would he have made such a satire about it? As his character grows in popularity we see the crowds change into more of a football/hockey type, complete with tailgating. These just aren’t the kind of things you see on the golf course, am I right? If they were, maybe more people would watch, with or without Tiger Woods.

Barker. I am always a fan of seeing people play a skewered version of themselves in film, especially if it is a dramatic shift from what we know them to be in real. Bob Barker gets the chance to do such a thing in this film. He is partnered with Sandler as he is being heckled and thrown off his games. Barker immediately starts to berate him. As anyone who was a fan of The Price is Right during the Barker days can tell you, this is attitude is far from the lovable host we all know, and it is that change that allows this to work and end up as funny as it is, including the fight between Barker and Sandler.

What didn’t I like?

Weather. It seems as if Carl Weathers cannot stay alive in a movie he’s it. He accidentally dies in this film, in a rather comical, yet stupid way. Not really sure why it bothers me that he keeps dying in his films, but it does. At least when he dies in the Rocky movies, they give him an honorable death, of sorts. Also, I don’t believe I’ve seen a more fake looking prosthetic arm than what they gave him. Oh wait, yes I have…on shows like In Living Color and Saturday Night Live, where the props are meant to look cheap, because they are.

Rest. After her home is repossessed by the government because she didn’t pay her taxes, Sandler’s grandmother has nowhere else to go, so she is placed in a retirement home. Here’s my thing, it is a decent subplot that serves as the motivation for why Sandler is trying so hard to win the tournament money and all, but the sadistic orderly, played by Ben Stiller, just seemed to be there because he and Sandler are friends. Considering the rest of Sandler’s films, this is quite possibly the case.

Pros. Maybe this is because at the time of this release Adam Sandler wasn’t a huge star, but it just seems to me that in a film about pro golfing, there should have been a few cameos by professional golfers. I’m not saying Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, but some kind of pro cameo, or perhaps as an added antagonist or something would have been nice, and perhaps added a bit of credibility. I’m just saying.

Looking back at this film, it is obvious that Happy Gilmore is one of Sandler’s early films, although not much has changed from then to now, except he’s older and has put on a few pounds, but who among us can say that they haven’t, right? After the depressing and dark films that I watched a couple of days ago, I was looking for something fun and funny and got exactly that from this film. So, if you’re looking for that and know what you’re getting when you watch a Sandler film, then this is for you. Check it out sometime!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars


3 Responses to “Happy Gilmore”

  1. This is a fun film from what I can remember. Your review brought it all back! Kind of a shame that Sandler went on to tarnish him name by being part of the worst contributions to comedy each year. His resume has been look awful lately. Damn shame!

  2. Mystery Man Says:

    yeah, I know what you mean. his new one with drew Barrymore that is coming out later this year looks like it might be good (saw the trailer before captain America yesterday). not getting my hopes up, though…lol

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