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Review: Happy Gilmore

Updated on November 16, 2011


3 out of 5 stars

If you only see one Adam Sandler movie in your life, it should be Happy Gilmore. This is the quintessential Adam Sandler movie, the one he has been trying to recreate ever since.

Unlike some of the so-called "smart comedies" of the past few years, Happy Gilmore, doesn't pretend to be anything it's not--namely a low-brow comedy. The movie's admittedly banal set-up is simply a platform for the comedy.

Happy Gilmore is pretty much the same character Sandler played in Billy Madison: a loveable everyman. Despite his mother walking out on the family after getting fed up with his father's obsession with hockey, and his father dying after getting hit with a puck at a hockey game, Happy doesn't give up his dream of being a professional hockey player. Happy has an incredibly powerful shot, but he can't skate. After failing another tryout for a pro hockey team, he decides to make some quick cash hustling a golf driving range until next year's tryouts. When his grandmother is in danger of losing her house due to back-taxes, Happy decides to join the golf tour to get the money to save her house. With the help of a retired pro (Carl Weathers, Rocky), he quickly becomes the star of the tour, threatening the determined pro, Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald, playing the cartoonish villain he plays in every low-brow comedy).

Adam Sandler would probably be the first to admit that this is not a great movie. But it is still funny and succeeds in every area it was meant to. Happy's outbursts are often hilarious, especially when he ends up in a fist-fight with Bob Barker. Ben Stiller provides some good laughs as a heinous nursing home attendant, and I especially enjoyed Richard Kiel (Jaws from the James Bond movies) as Happy's former-boss-turned-biggest-fan.

Recently coming off Saturday Night Live and releasing his classic comedy album What the Hell Happened to Me? only days earlier, Happy Gilmore is Adam Sandler at his comedic height, which he himself has yet to top.


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