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Happy Gilmore

Starring Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen,
Christopher McDonald and Carl Weathers
Directed by Dennis Dugan

My mother always told me that laughter is a good cure for what hurts. For the most part, that's been proven true by pseudo-scientific fact. So, in that my back was killing me when I walked into the theater to see Happy Gilmore, starring Saturday Night Live's Adam Sandler (who I happen to like as a comedian), I had high hopes for a good evening.

Thank God for pills.

Then again, if there was a pill that could revert me to about 14 years of age, I probably would have thought the same things I do at thirtysomething, but I would have enjoyed it more. Happy Gilmore is just plain out and out stupid.

I wondered what was wrong when the theater I saw Happy Gilmore in did NOT play any commercials before the film. That should have made me very happy, 'cuz I hate the things. It was a mercy, because Happy Gilmore has gone over the edge with product placement. Watching it is like watching an OK episode of SNL with the commercials built in to every skit.

Happy is a professional hockey player. In his mind. Problem is he can't skate very well. He can't handle the puck, either. What he is good at is putting out the lights of anyone silly enough to cross his path the wrong way. Happy is not a person with a short fuse. He is more like unto a firecracker that has burned all the way down and not exploded -- the ones your parents always said would blow your hands off -- and then he explodes and pummels anyone in the general area. And he's got a mouth like a sewer.

As a pick-up line, he tells people that his girlfriend is dead. In reality, she just walked out on him. In reality, Happy doesn't have all that many love interests to win over. IF only she had stayed to enjoy the Subway sandwiches with extra meatballs Happy brought home on that fateful night....

"Happy" should be a misnomer. His dad died in a freak hockey accident. His mom abandoned the family and Egypt, leaving the orphaned Happy in the care of a grandmother who didn't pay taxes on her house for ten years so the IRS repossessed it and put her into a nursing home where she does slave labor under the eye of a male nurse. (Gee that was a long sentence. Please excuse me while I take a sip from my cup of refreshing ice cold Pepsi...)

On a bet, Happy picks up a golf club and drives the ball 400 yards down the street. Since there's big money in golf, he decides to go for the bucks and buy Grandma's house back.

We're talking one dimensional characters and story up the wazoo here, folks. And even if Sandler only delivers a good guffaw once every ten or twenty minutes, some of us in the audience can still enjoy the female interest: lovely, blond, Heartland-of-America-Looking Julie Bowen in lingerie and garters. Julie plays Virginia Venit, a golf tour PR person assigned to keep Happy under control. The tour you see despises his language and non-pro behavior, but he brings in the ratings and the TV money.

As for the rest of the cast, Christopher McDonald is Shooter McGavin, Happy's one dimensional rival for the Tour champion gold jacket -- not even for the girl, fer crimminey's sakes (!)

Carl Weathers plays a one handed golf pro who teaches Happy the fine art of putting. Cranky is no PC-fanatic, but the disability jokes about mangling Weather's prosthetic hand get a little tired after the fourth or fifth time.

Finally, we get to enjoy a host of cameo appearances, including the (return) of Richard "Jaws" Kiel (from some of the silliest, and best Roger Moore James Bond 007 movies). SNL's Kevin Nealon as a zen golf pro ("the ball has its own energy. The hole is its home. Make the ball go home."). And SCTV's Eugene Levy as McGavin's lackey who puts the hex on Happy and manages to get in quite a few plugs for Red Lobster and Sizzler Restaurants.

Oh, did I plug Subway brand sandwiches(?); the owners of the chain being major players in the production of the film. They have to be. Their brand name is virtually graffitied onto every other frame of film.

When I saw the Happy Gilmore trailer a couple of weeks ago, the audience went nuts at one specific point. Game Show emcee Bob Barker has a small part in the movie as a Pro/Am partner for Gilmore. In the trailer, Happy punches out Bob. Cranky saw the trailer twice. Both times the audience cheered when Barker went down. Those audiences would not have been pleased with the outcome of the real thing.

This ain't no "film." It's not even a movie. It's a goof. Every once in a while there will be a real good guffaw or two, but for the most part there is nothing here that you couldn't see on television. And you can see Sadler (if he's still on SNL. I don't know. I watch the much funnier MAD TV. And no one is paying me for the plug).

Happy Gilmore is painful to watch for anyone outside of the teen years. And as the sparse house of Gen X'ers filed out, the common reaction was "stupid."

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Happy Gilmore, he would have paid . . .


Cranky wasn't very happy with Happy.

Click to buy films by Adam Sandler

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