Treadmill Theater Presents: CADDYSHACK Review
Release Date : 07/25/80
Director: Harold Ramis
Starring: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael O’Keefe, and Bill Murray
Actual Gross: $39,846,344
Adjusted Gross (2013): $119,242,800
1980 Box Office Rank: 17
There is little in the way of plot in Caddyshack. The only real story line – and it’s a thin, thin thread – involves Danny Noonan (O’Keefe), a young man who is unsure of his future. His parents are pressuring him to go to college but funds are tight. He sees winning a caddy scholarship from the country club where he caddies as his only hope. He has a love interest in country club waitress Maggie (Sarah Holcomb) and a mentor in club member and ace golfer Ty Webb (Chase).
Webb is one of four funny characters that pad the rest of the film, all of which plays more like a series of sit com set pieces. He is young and handsome and the envy of the rest of the golfers (for his zen-like golf prowess), but his ambivalence keeps him level-headed. The second character is Judge Smails (Knight), club president and a man willing to lord the scholarship over Danny while simultaneously using his “foot wedge” to get his ball out of the rough. Third is Al Czervik (Dangerfield), the super-rich but super-tacky club member whose manners are atrocious but whose money gets him anything he wants. And fourth is Carl Spackler (Murray), the quirky groundskeeper at war with a gopher.
As is the case with most of the films I’m watching in this series, it has been YEARS since I’ve seen this one, and unlike Friday the 13th, this one holds up very well. I am surprised, however, by who carries the biggest funny workload.
It isn’t Murray, who is perfectly fine, although aside from a couple of always-funny quotes, his dopey groundskeeper schtick is tired. It certainly isn’t Knight; that bombastic blowhard role that he brought with him from The Mary Tyler Moore Show – which really became his trademark character – was the least funniest in 1980, and that status hasn’t changed. Nor is it Dangerfield, although I must admit that while his character in this film is just like every other character he played in every other film he did (basically he plays himself), it’s still funny – not side-splitting funny, but funny.
No, the star of this film is Chase. Yes, he’s playing “the Chevy Chase character” – that smug, condescending, mumbling, yet clever and funny guy – but it’s an early version version of that character. This film pre-dates the launches of the Vacation and Fletch films by several years. In those films, he was a much more a caricature of the Chase character than the actual Chase character. Here he is subtle; not humble, but subdued if for no other reason than he hadn’t become THAT Chevy Chase just yet. His lines make up most of the film’s highlight reel.
This film marks the first effort in a series of collaborative efforts between Murray and director Ramis that lasted through the 1980s and into the early 1990s. After this, Ramis stepped in front of the camera to join Murray in Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), and finally again as director and (brief) costar in Groundhog Day (1993).
Caddyshack is one of the best golf movies ever made (admittedly there aren’t a lot of those, but still), and in the discussion for funniest sports movie made. But what is most impressive is how as a comedy, sports or otherwise, it still works today.
Film Treadmill Distance: 4.64 miles
Film Treadmill Time: 1:37:48
2014 Treadmill Distance: 18.67 miles
2014 Treadmill Time: 7:00:51
2014 Films Watched, Walked, and Written: 4
For more information about Treadmill Theater, see the summary at the bottom of my Little Darlings review. All financial data courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo.com.