Viking Night: Caddyshack

By Bruce Hall

January 17, 2012

Everyone knew he would be an Academy Award nominee some day...

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If you're anything like me, the movie Caddyshack can't help but leave you a little conflicted. And by "conflicted," I mean "filled with reservations." But you’re probably really nothing like me at all and that, I assure you, is reason to be thankful. I do have some reservations about Caddyshack though, and they’re not just over trivial stuff like Rodney Dangerfield's wardrobe, all the bad hairdos, the fact that Lacy Underall isn't in the movie more, or the fact that they made a sequel so bad that even the United States government refuses to acknowledge it exists.

The hesitancy you hear is my own fault. And as I write this, I have to admit that’s got me feeling a little down. Caddyshack is, after all, considered by many to be one of the greatest comedies of all time. I can’t really disagree with that, but I say so with the following reservations.

Prior to now, I have not seen it in at least 15 years.

It's taken me what, two years to write about it?

From a critical point of view, I don't like it nearly as much as I used to.


Of course it's a free country (even if it doesn't always feel that way), and there's no law that says you have to love Caddyshack (even though it does feel that way). After this is published, I'll probably find it hard to get work, and people will stare at me from under suspicious brows and whisper after me in hushed tones as I pass by. It's not that I don't like Caddyshack; if you're a fan of movies or comedy in general, it is a must own. And unless you're the political prisoner of a totalitarian government who's had your sense of humor surgically removed, it's hard not to find enough laughs to make it worth your while. It's just that when I sat down to watch it this time, there was something...missing.

The question is whether it's me, or is it the movie?

It's probably me, because despite its reputation a comedy, Caddyshack is first and foremost two parallel tales of adversity. It is the story of Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe, the only cast member who can actually swing a golf club worth a damn), a young caddie at the illustrious Bushwood Country Club who dreams of attending college, but cannot afford tuition. He caddies for Ty Webb (Chevy Chase, playing himself), a wealthy playboy who spends his days trolling the grounds for women and making impossible trick shots while blindfolded. The irony here is that even as Ty dispenses dubious life lessons and innovative golf tips, he seems to have much less to offer the world than the guy who carries his clubs.

If there had been an Occupy Bushwood movement, they'd have been all over this guy.

Our second tale of woe is that of Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), Bushwood's assistant groundskeeper. Carl is a gritty, hard working, salt of the earth kind of guy. He is also a dangerously unstable, misogynistic drug fiend who harbors delusions of world travel and high intellectual pursuit. Carl has been tasked with eliminating a precocious animatronic gopher from Bushwood's golf course - by any means necessary. It's a bad idea to use phrases like that with Carl, as the extravagant population of Bushwood will soon come to realize. Danny and Carl would seem to be from very different worlds, but they are both truly part of the Ninety-Nine Percent, and when their paths eventually cross two men of simple means will be changed forever as the hand of destiny executes it's unfathomable machinations upon them.

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