Reviews

Being the Ball: What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Caddyshack'

Caddyshack is not unlike the theory of relativity: you cannot understand it and you could never hope to explain it, but you are perceptive enough to concede it.


Caddyshack

Director: Harold Ramis
Cast: Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ted Knight, Rodney Dangerfield
Distributor: Warner
Extras: 6
UK Release Date: 2010-06-14
US Release Date: 2010-06-08

Well…we’re waiting!

Actually, you already read this review.

You already wrote this review.

You can easily recall, now, when it occurred to you, sometime between the fifth or fifteenth (or fiftieth) viewing that everything possible to say about Caddyshack has already been said.

So you initially thought it might be advisable, if ironic, to discuss Caddyshack without invoking a single line from the movie. Eventually you realized that what we talk about when we talk about Caddyshack is…Caddyshack. Not quoting lines from Caddyshack to discuss Caddyshack, therefore, is only slightly less conceivable than going a single day without quoting (to others; to yourself) a line or three from Caddyshack. You are, of course, congenitally incapable of not quoting from Caddyshack. You are, after all, a male member of the genus Homo Sapiens (American species: Dude).

You’re no gentleman!

But you are also not a woman, so you can quote Caddyshack and you will defend Caddyshack.

Don’t worry about this one; if you miss it, we lose.

You arrived at the age, sometime between junior high and yesterday, where the lines you love so much from Caddyshack frequently sound funnier when your friends say them. Or when you say them to yourself. (It looks like a miraculous…it’s in the hole!). You may not know much, but you are fairly certain this is one unquestionable ingredient of a classic.

You’ve never stopped and thought about this, but if you ever stopped and thought about it you might think “Wait, the script is silly, the storyline is sophomoric, the acting of at least half the cast is execrable, the soundtrack features Journey and Kenny Loggins and above all, a donut with no holes is not a Danish!” Still, you would eventually come around and acknowledge that Caddyshack is not unlike the theory of relativity: you cannot understand it and you could never hope to explain it, but you are perceptive enough to concede it. Just like every other self-respecting doctor, judge or clergyman—and the loopers who rely upon their honor (your honor).

You’ll get nothing and like it!

You know: chinch bugs; manganese…a lot of people don’t even know what that is. You do, however, and even though these words are not particularly funny on the page, they are almost miraculous on the screen. Needless to say, we know they represent imperative components of any assistant greenskeeper’s knowledge base.

Nobody says those things about you as far as you know...

(Cannonball coming: how to adequately appraise the climactic encounter between Carl and Ty? You appreciate that the entirety of this deranged pas de deux was improvised on the set. You appreciate even more that in real life Chevy Chase and Bill Murray could barely stand the sight of one another (the pond would be good for you…). You especially appreciate that during this scene, and pretty much all the others in the movie, most of the characters were as drunk and drugged as they (weren’t) pretending to be.)

You wonder how Harold Ramis, here in his directorial debut, measures himself against other filmmakers. A: By height.

You never forget to be grateful that Caddyshack served as the successful vehicle that made Rodney Dangerfield – at that point a known but not well-known comedian—into one of the best-loved rascals in Hollywood. First there were the epic Miller Lite commercials (remember those? Of course you do) and then the solid, if second-tier treasure Back To School. (Rest in peace, Al, and remember: country clubs and cemeteries are the biggest wastes of prime real estate.)

You still get choked up (tears in his eyes, I guess) remembering what a genius Ted Knight was, and the unbelievably good sport he proved to be for taking part in this insanity. (Rest in peace, Elihu; let’s hope you are loofering stretch marks in Heaven.)

You’re a tremendous slouch!

You still regret not winning that scholarship to St. Copious of Northern…and you make it a point to pour tributes to poor Carl Lipbaum—who died in summer school from that severe anxiety attack and you still can’t believe that your roommate, Mitch Cumstein, was night-putting with the fifteen year old daughter of the dean.

How about a Fresca?

You are not so sure about that, (who drinks Fresca now; who drank Fresca then?) but you’re damn certain that you ain’t payin’ 50 cents for no Coke.

Is this Russia?

No, so you can count on some bonus material with this 30th Anniversary Special Edition. Along with the theatrical trailer (it’s no big deal) you get Caddyshack: The 19th Hole (that’s a peach, hon), a documentary with interviews, outtakes and some candid recollections from Ty Webb himself. You don’t get a free bowl of soup, but if you buy the Blu-Ray version you also receive Caddyshack: The Inside Story (more interviews, etc.).

Go for it: you might not otherwise learn that the original screenplay revolved around the caddies, and only once big-time (non-golf playing) players came on board (Spaulding, get your foot off the boat!) did the movie…evolve. It may not seem like much, but the fortuitous embellishment provided by these…adults served to ensure that Caddyshack did not degenerate into Meatballs II (Madonna with meatballs!).

To summarize, you hope that Caddyshack has prepared you for the possibility that one day you might get tired of having fun all the time. When you die, on your death bed, you will receive total consciousness (so you got that going for you, which is nice).

You already knew that.

Gunga-Galunga.

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Music

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(Available from Warner Bros.)

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(Available from Criterion Collection)

8. The Green Slime (Kinji Fukasaku, 1968)

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