Reviewing Caddyshack is difficult. The film is not artful, high minded, or cerebral by any means. It never tries to be heady, sentimental or deliver a message to its audience. Instead, it’s irreverent, zippy, and more often than not, sheer comic genius. A milestone of comedy, setting a standard so many films would try to live up to, the movie is less a narrative than a string of insanely uproarious moments inhabited by unforgettable characters.
The paper-thin plot (does anyone even care?) centers on a young man named Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) trying to get a new scholarship offered to caddies at an exclusive country club. But that quickly gets forgotten, only to vaguely resurface throughout the rest of the film. This leaves ample time for (seemingly) lesser subplots (who will take over Bushwood Country Club, and a power struggle with a gopher, for example), which involve its A-list cast of comedy kings – Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield – to riff, improvise and deliver some of cinema’s most resonating bits of hilarity. More after the jump:
The mix of Caddyshack’s talent pool is so broad, it’s almost as if each of these four actors could have existed in their own movie. Chase, in one of the funniest performances of his career, plays Ty Webb, a flighty, self-serving hedonist who spouts of bits of (often inappropriate) Zen wisdom during golf play. Dangerfield’s Al Czervik, with seemingly no editing between brain and mouth, often steals scenes by merely stating the obvious. Knight plays Judge Smails in such an uptight, peculiar and bold performance (what the hell are those noises he keeps making?), he manages to come across as both scary and funny. And Bill Murray, in what’s arguably his most indelible role, is groundskeeper Carl Spackler, a man who seems to exist somewhere between animal and human.
The blu-ray transfer is competent, allowing colors to noticeably pop off the golf course (particularly Dangerfield’s excessively loud wardrobe), although at times the harshly overexposed sky looks just that. But cinematics and aesthetics aren’t exactly key reasons to watch Caddyshack. Director Harold Ramis admits to often having no idea where to place his camera.
In addition to the previously released supplementals of Caddyshack: the 19th Hole retrospective featurette and a theatrical trailer, the big bonus extra created exclusively for this new release is Bio Caddyshack: The Inside Story, a feature-length documentary chronicling the genesis, production and everlasting effect of the film. From a cornucopia of behind-the-scenes pics to never-before-heard stories, the docu is a must-see for any devout fan of the film. The supplemental is fraught with all sorts of fun facts, like Dangerfield not understanding that he was actually supposed to begin the scene upon Ramis’ call of “action”, the checkered history and volatile tension between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, Ted Knight’s friction with the younger cast members, and the idea that Murray’s Spackler character was originally allotted merely six days of shooting with no planned dialogue. Watching O’Keefe and other members of the cast wax nostalgic about the production is pure joy (that is, of course, if you found the movie funny to begin with. If you didn’t, skip it, hater). Of course, conspicuously absent (and the documentary’s most glaring drawback) are talking-head interviews with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray (and to a lesser extent, Brian Doyle-Murray). Oh, what so many fans would give to hear Murray’s take on where Carl comes from.
Endlessly quoted (“You’ll get nothing and like it,” “Be the ball,” “You buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup,” “When you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness,”… I could go on, but there’s only so much space allotted here), Caddyshack has led an army of fans for three decades and shows no signs of wear and tear. It’s a classic of low-brow, bad-taste comedy and the people behind the film will clearly have it no other way.