Directed by: Harold Raimis
Written by: Douglas Kenney, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray
Starring: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael O’Keefe, Bill Murray
Country clubs pride themselves on their exclusive nature. Gaining membership then becomes something others seek, especially those seen as a higher class. Knowing this about these institutions makes the events transpiring in Caddyshack to be all the more hilarious, as all the rules get broken and every tradition gets besmirched.
Working at the well-known Bushwood Country Club in order to save money for college, Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) wants to get in the good graces of Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight) to potentially win the caddie scholarship. Additionally, a new-money golfer, Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield), arrives at the club ready to wreak havoc and enjoy this pastime his own way.
By looking at the poster of Caddyshack, you would never know the story actually focuses on this teenager trying to make connections with the adults displayed prominently. He becomes our entry point into this club and what it will turn into upon the arrival of Al. Even with us rooting for Danny because the narrative dictates, it becomes interesting that he drops allegiances whenever it suits him. He comes into this summer position before college with a girlfriend, which he has no issue acting with infidelity the second he lays his eyes on Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan). He also changes allegiance to the different men for whatever may give him a better advantage at the time. I respect the hustle in trying to set himself up for the future, but there’s a reason he’s not on the poster. Danny serves as our straight man for the wackiness of the other characters.
Namely, the one who owned this entire film being Rodney Dangerfield as Al Czervik. His introduction to this club draws a line, as he represents a new-money attitude as the members of the club come from generational wealth and look down upon him. That might bring others down, but certainly not Al. He breaks all of the unwritten rules and decorum to do things his way and it annoys Smails for the entirety of the feature. Everything coming out of Dangerfield’s mouth left me in stitches because of the lack of care in his voice and demeanor. While everyone wants to remain uptight, he has no problem calling things out and continually embarrassing people. His character becomes quite the hoot to follow.
In addition, there’s also Chevy Chase in his prime as Ty Webb, who excels at the game of golf and gets into his own shenanigans. Knowing about the disappointing behavior of Chase offscreen is so disappointing because in his day Chase knew how to put on incredible comedic performances, and he excels as Ty Webb. Ted Knight as Judge Smails owns some of the more iconic lines of the entire film, which includes “Well, we’re waiting.” Bill Murray’s side plot of being an unhinged groundskeeper trying to take out a gopher feels forced at times, but it makes sense for the zaniness this feature wants to display for the audience. It all combines into an amalgamation of ridiculous and hilarious characters colliding in one club making for the pinnacle of comedy on several occasions.
As the story progressed, I genuinely was surprised by how raunchy everything gets and what they show in this feature. Heading into it, I assumed it would be something more in line with other National Lampoon material, but Caddyshack refuses to have any shackles on its wrist. The brilliance of its comedy makes complete sense when seeing Harold Ramis co-wrote and directed this feature. The man is definitely missed in the world of comedy and his contributions have definitely left a foothold in popular culture. The zaniness of this feature helps make it my favorite work of his, which is saying a lot based on his filmography.
With plenty of laughs to go around amidst the incredible pool of talent, Caddyshack stands as one of my favorite comedies. Not many in this genre have surprised me to the level this feature was able to accomplish. It does not overstay its welcome and runs through its story like a buzzsaw filled with gut-busting jokes. It’s hardly a surprise this film worked so well, as it has more talent than it knew what to do with yet made it work nonetheless. A complete success and one of the best sports films there will ever be.