USA | 1996 | 93 minutes | PG
A rejected hockey player puts his skills to the golf course to save his grandmother’s house.
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Carl Weathers, Julie Bowen, and Christopher MacDonald
The most important thing to know about Happy Gilmore is that it’s funny. It’s apparent that Adam Sandler wanted that for us too. It’s a simple agenda, but it’s not a simple task. The best thing about Happy Gilmore is that it’s clever. Happy Gilmore is broad, but it’s not just an extended SNL sketch. It is special because it takes itself seriously as a sports film, and follows the traditions of its predecessors such as Rocky and Chariots of Fire. A down-on-his-luck athlete who was never good enough finds the will to dig deep and go the distance, not just to win the day, but to have pride in himself for once. When you look at Adam Sandler in this picture, you can spot him learning this about himself. There is a spark in him that says, “I’m good at this.” You can still see the best parts of Happy in Punch Drunk Love, Uncut Gems and The Meyerowitz Stories. Sandler follows in a long line of comedians who moved into drama, because they wanted to be taken more seriously. But what’s great about Sandler is he does what he wants, and he succeeds, mostly because he loves what he does. He seems to work more at being beloved than trying to carve out some sort of forced respect, and you respect his efforts more than the end result. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously. It doesn’t need to be gross to make you laugh. It plays with the weird and the fantastic, which makes it whimsical. I think that’s the reason for its longevity. Come through and laugh from your gut with a group. – VANYA GARRAWAY
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