I don’t remember when I first saw Billy Madison, but I do recall watching it numerous times while growing up. Seeing it today, the movie is still hilarious. Adam Sandler may have already been a star from Saturday Night Live, but Billy Madison was the first in a series of movies that showed us the brilliance of endearing immaturity.
Sandler plays the title role, a 20-something loser who still lives off his father’s (the late Darren McGavin) business fortunes. He lounges at the pool with his friends Frank (Norm MacDonald) and Jack (Mark Beltzman), speaks gibberish at the dinner table in front of his father’s clients and has a few encounters with a human-sized penguin who may or may not be important to the storyline (he isn’t, but Billy is convinced otherwise).
Billy is in line to take over his father’s hotel business soon, but this is no case of a parent blind of their child’s shortcomings. Billy’s father acknowledges his son’s stupidity, and is going to instead give the company to the slimy Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford, perfect). Billy objects, claiming he has smarts, but that objection is only met by his father’s admission of paying off all of his teachers through the years to allow his son to graduate high school.
Naturally, Billy concocts a plan; he’ll redo grades one through 12 in the span of a few weeks. If he passes each, he will run the company. For anyone with business skills, this plan is sound logic, thus we have our movie plot.
Nothing in this movie makes even the least bit of sense, from the implausible storyline to the multiple bizarre scenes that make you laugh, but leave you wondering what the hell is going on. Yet, that’s what is perfect about this movie. There are no boundaries to how immature and strange the humor gets.
Billy Madison teaches us that it’s okay to let education take a backseat, provided you are already ridiculously wealthy. Watching this movie 16 years after its theatrical release, what jumped out at me was how it's like watching the formation of Adam Sandler’s on-screen sense of humor. To appreciate Billy Madison doesn’t make you immature; it just means that immaturity can sometimes be fun, even for the grownups.
Viewing Billy Madison on Blu-Ray instead of DVD didn’t really make a difference, considering the filmmaking is of the cookie-cutter comedy variety. There are no special effects or graphics that need enhancement, but there's still is a noticeable difference in the picture quality here. The outtakes and deleted scenes (available on the DVD) were not enhanced for Blu-Ray, showing the contrast between the two formats.
Given how funny the movie is, the outtakes are disappointingly bland. There’s no sign of Sandler going off on a comedic tangent or having an improvisation contest with another cast member. Instead, we get mistakes in line reading that aren’t particularly fun to watch. There are several short deleted scenes, most of which are only mildly humorous and therefore were cut out for good reason, but there are also a few worth watching. The best extra is the director commentary with Tamra Davis. Her perspective on the humor in the movie as well as the stories she tells of the cast and crew makes the commentary worth at least skimming through.
Sandler again plays the title role, an overly aggressive wannabe hockey player who can’t keep his footing on the ice or catch on with a pro team despite a decade of tryouts. He has a great slapshot, though. As his grandmother (Frances Bay, the woman who has been playing the little old lady part for years now and hasn’t aged a day since this movie) is forced to move into a nursing home because she can no longer afford her house, Happy finds that he has a talent for golf and might be able to use it to help her. Happy displays exactly the opposite of what golf course etiquette is: He curses at himself, punches out spectators and is generally just a nightmare for the sport's image. It's enjoyable to watch, though.
In hopes of making enough money to get back her house, Happy joins the pro tour with the help of a former pro golfer who just goes by the name Chubbs (Carl Weathers). Understand that I grew up watching the Rocky movies time and time again, so seeing Apollo Creed in this ridiculous of a comedic film is still strange to me. Weathers is very funny, though, working alongside Sandler.
There is a slew of great cameos in this movie, from Ben Stiller with an epic moustache playing the nursing home director, to the guys in Sandler’s gang who we see in all his movies. We also are treated to one legendary cameo when The Price is Right host Bob Barker gets a few golden minutes on screen.
Happy Gilmore is basic Sandler terrain. It’s a film that shows his sense of humor in the early stages of his career, and much like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore is immature, strange and yet good fun to watch.
Aside from the better quality of image, the only extras on the Blu-Ray are deleted scenes and outtakes. That’s all we get. The outtakes are funny, but most outtakes are funny. I’m all for owning Happy Gilmore, but you don’t necessarily need it on Blu-Ray. Those extra bucks could be well spent elsewhere, like on purchasing another '90’s Adam Sandler flick.