Billy Madison

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Billy Madison is the 27-year-old heir to a Fortune 500 hotel company that his father, Brian, has created. He spends his days drinking with friends and creating disturbances across his father’s estate. One day, Billy ruins a dinner meeting between his father and his associates by acting obnoxiously. Brian loses confidence in his son and chooses the conniving Eric Gordon as his successor. When Billy begs his father to reconsider his decision, Brian reveals that he secretly bribed Billy’s school teachers to give him passing grades. The two finally compromise: Billy must complete all 12 grades in two week intervals to prove he is competent enough to manage the company.

Shortly after enrolling into school, Billy becomes attracted to a teacher named Veronica Vaughn, who initially ignores him. Nevertheless, Billy successfully progresses through his first two grades. He finds himself as one of Veronica’s students in the third grade and earns her respect by standing up for Ernie, his friend and classmate. Billy becomes popular among the third graders and misses them as he advances through school. Billy’s progress alarms Eric, who becomes increasingly agitated as Billy completes each grade. Eric blackmails Billy’s principal, Max Anderson, into claiming that Billy bribed him for passing grades.

Brian swiftly terminates his agreement with Billy and names Eric as his successor. Billy grows distraught and reverts to his carefree lifestyle. Veronica motivates him to return to school, while his grade school classmates convince Max to retract his bribery accusations. Brian agrees to give Billy another chance but Eric cites that Billy failed the challenge by taking more than two weeks to complete a grade. He then threatens to sue Brian if he does not pass the company onto him. Billy intervenes and challenges Eric to an academic decathlon to finally settle their feud.

Both men excel in different activities but Billy manages to take a single-point lead before the contest’s final event, a Jeopardy!-style academic test. Billy stumbles on the opening question in the event, and Eric is given the chance to win the contest by answering a question about business ethics. Eric is unable to withstand the pressure and breaks down. He brandishes a handgun, but Max tackles Eric before he can harm Billy. Eric recovers from the attack and attempts to shoot Veronica, but he is shot by Danny McGrath, a rifle-wielding madman whom Billy apologized to earlier in the film.

At his graduation, Billy is delivering a speech. Billy announces he will pass the hotel business to Carl Alphonse, one of his father’s more polite businessmen, and attend college in order to become a teacher. Eric watches on and fumes in frustration over Billy’s decision

REVIEW:

Remember the days when Adam Sandler was actually not hated by most critics, but rather loved? No, well, hopefully a journey back to the days of Billy Madison will change that for you. Many call this one of Sandler’s best. It must be since it is part of his company, Happy Madison, name. Let’s see what the big deal is, shall we?

What is this about?

Job-averse goofball Billy Madison stands to inherit a fortune when his hotel magnate father retires and leaves him in charge. But Billy’s dad won’t trust him with the family business unless he goes back to school. All the way back.

What did I like?

It worked…back then. The Waterboy is perhaps my favorite Adam Sandler movie but, I got to thinking the other day, if it were made today, would it work? The answer is probably no. A big part of that is Sandler’s character. Many of the mannerisms he used for Bobby Boucher are present in almost every film, now that I think about it. Today, we are tired of this schtick, but when you turn on the retro vibe, one can remember how great we thought, no we knew he was!

Kids love him. Once Sandler’s character, Billy, makes it to high school, he has to leave his young friends down at the elementary school (not quite sure what happened to the junior high years). For some reason, it warmed my heart to see them all flock to him when came back to visit one day. I guess that is just the military brat in me wishing that I could have gone back to see my friends and get that kind of reception after very school I left. Who knows?

On the boardwalk. Steve Buscemi makes a small cameo in a couple of scenes. Unlike most of his parts in Sandler movies, he isn’t the butt of some kind of joke, but rather a sympathetic character that Billy apparently was mean to when they were in high school. What is so impressive to be about this role is how much he says with his performance in such a short amount of time. There is obviously some scarring there from his high school days, as we can see from the list of people to kill and the fact that he puts on lipstick, but Billy’s call seems to help with that. That one call did so much, as seen later in the film.

What didn’t I like?

Sonya Blade. I don’t like Bridgette Wilson’s face! That’s me being honest. There is a reason she got the role of Sonya in Mortal Kombat (though she wasn’t the first choice), and it is because of her body. As an actress, she’s decent, but as we can see from her career, nothing special. There is just something about her fact that doesn’t sit right with me. Add on that this character she plays is some kind of borderline bitch towards Billy at the beginning and then at one party, she’s in love with him, and there really is no reason for me to like her, and I don’t think I am the only one that feels this way.

Business villain. There are actors who play good or bad guys so well that they are typecast into that role. Some do it so well people can’t separate them from their character, like Joffrey in Game of Thrones. Bradley Whitford has played a villain in everything I have seen him in. I think there may have been one or two things where he wasn’t, but I can’t really remember those. If that’s his niche, then fine, but this over-the-top, mustache twirling, cartoon slimeball was a bit much, even for a Sandler film. I felt he needed to pull it back in or go full-on supervillain!

Don’t give me Lippy. I hear kindergarten teachers are weird. I can’t really remember mine, so I can’t comment on her. Miss Lippy, the kindergarten teacher at this school is…special, to say the least. When she sends the kids out for recess, it is for “her time”, in which she stays in and does some sort of yoga/tai chi/I don’t know wtf! In another scene, she is shown to be smearing paste on her face. She can be as weird as possible. That isn’t the issue, but if she’s going to be weird, at least give us a reason for her mental state (drugs, divorce, concussion, etc.)

For a film that is considered one of the crown jewels of the Sandler library, I must say that Billy Madison wasn’t as good as I was led to believe. There are two reasons for this, though. First is that I expected it to be more similar to Jack, the Robin Williams movie where he is an overgrown child, literally. Second, this is very similar to a film Sandler’s buddy Chris Farley released not too long after, Tommy Boy, which is actually the better film (in spite of David Spade). A third reason is that we don’t get a reason why Billy acts the way he does. It is obvious he has some brains, but most of the film he just does the Sandler stupid thing. All that aside, do I recommend this? It may be hard to believe, but yes. I did enjoy this film and think that most who view it will, too! Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

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