Directed by Harold Ramis
Written by Brian Doyle-Murray & Harold Ramis & Douglas Kenney
Release Date: July 25, 1980
Running Time: 1hr 3min
[Possible spoilers, but this movie is 40 years old so…]
A series of comic vignettes at the upperclass Bushwood Country Club. The main(ish) story follows Danny Noonan (O’Keefe), a young man working at the club as a caddie. He crosses paths with the majority of the main characters in the film, including laidback, suave, and talented golfer Ty Webb (Chase), who’s father co-founded the club with the uptight Judge Elihu Smails (Knight), whom Danny tries to gain favor with as he’s director of the caddie scholarship, which could help him get into college.
New to the club is real estate mogul, Al Czercick (Dangerfield), unliked by many of the club members (especially Smails), because of his loudmouth attitude, crude sense of humor, and not being from old money. On several occasions, Al inadvertently makes life at Bushwood miserable for Smails, causing both bodily harm and property damage.
Meanwhile Carl Spackler (Murray), the slightly unhinged assistant groundskeeper has been charged with hunting and killing a gopher that’s tearing up the golf course. As each attempt to kill the smarter than average vermin fails, Carl descends deeper into madness (and he didn’t have much sanity to start with), leading to him setting up a series of explosives throughout the course.
At the time of release, the film was a major box office success, earning $39.8 million against a $6 million budget (the 17th highest of the year). Critical reviews were somewhat mixed, with many complaining about the disorganized plot, but with performances being praised (particularly the ones by Dangerfield and Murray). It launched Ramis’s second career as a filmmaker (at the time he was known for co-writing the hit comedies Animal House and Meatballs, and for being a cast member on SCTV), as well as the furthering film careers of Chase, Murray, and Dangerfield (who at the time was better known for his standup comedy).
Through the years it’s gained a sizable cult following, spawning many films like it (most not nearly as successful), including a sequel in 1988 (with only Chase returning), and not being nearly as successful financially or critically. To this day it’s considered among the best comedies from the 1980s, and one of the best (if not the best) sports comedies of all time.
You bet I love this movie! Those involved would go on to make objectively better films, but this is still a super fun comedy, with plenty of memorable characters, scenes, quotes, and one-liners. Considering all the behind the scenes disasters that happened (such as footage getting destroyed), it’s a miracle the thing managed to get completed and be a success. It’s a real Cinderella story!
Should you see it? Yes!