How could it work? A movie about an exclusive and incredibly expensive golf club, its eccentric members, it’s rag-tag group of employees, a gopher that’s tearing up the course, and an assistant greens keeper who’s not quite all there.
The answer is, amazingly. Caddyshack is without a doubt one of the most beloved sports comedies to come out of the 1980’s and with so many reasons why. Written by Douglas Kenney, Brian Doyle-Murray, and the late great Harold Ramis, this was a sports film for the slacker generation. I have personally loved this movie since I first saw it, going so far as to have my own dancing gopher when I was a teenager (the little guy shook his tail to Kenny Loggin’s classic “I’m Alright”).
As a comedian and a long time fan of comedy I found something to love about every crazy character and found myself intrigued by main character Danny, a lowly caddy, doing everything he can to raise money to go to college. But even as a child I felt a certain kinship to over the top greens keeper Carl Speckler, played pitch perfectly by Bill Murray.
To truly discuss the brilliance of Caddyshack you need to begin with the cast, I’ve already mentioned Murray’s Carl Speckler so let’s look at who else graced this film with their comedic prowess. Michael O’Keefe plays the aforementioned Danny, a caddy at Bushwick Country Club who is trying to get money for college, while Danny is the main character of the narrative he’s often overlooked for the comedic powerhouses who built the supporting cast.
Chevy Chase plays Ty Webb in the suave and cocky self-assured way only Chevy Chase could in 1980, his character is the son of one of the founders of the country club and has a devil-may-care attitude about just about everything he does (including a highly improvised hot oil massage scene). Ted Knight, who at the time was still beloved from his time on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, played Judge Elihu Smails the more uptight co-founder of the club and the director of the Caddy Scholarship Program that Danny is seeking to obtain. Knight perfectly played the straight man to most of the gags of the film, and as a psuedo-villain to the goings on of the story. Finally comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield played Al Czervik, the obnoxious new membership applicant of the club and an immediate foil to Ted Knight’s Judge. Dropping one liners that still bring about a smile today.
With no grave stakes you would wonder how a film like Caddyshack would maintain the audience’s attention but when you sit down in front of the screen you can’t turn away. The comedic genius is present not only in the performances but also the script, lines like “Hey everybody, we’re all gonna get laid!” “A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no holes, is a danish.” and “This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere, former greens keeper and now, about to become Masters champion.” are not only quotable but also highly memerable. While Caddyshack is not a film that won awards or high recognition it is still the most fun I’ve ever had watching golf.