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Warner Home Video presents
"Just let it happen. Be the ball. Be the ball, Danny....You're not being the ball, Danny."
DVD ReviewOften comedies that are overstuffed with comedians end up completely falling flat. Happily, that's not the case with Caddyshack. With the headlining presence of four comedy legends, it could have been a mess, especially with a novice director at the helm. But the result holds up on many levels, and still inspires gales of laughter, cementing its status as a comedy classic.
The plot is rather thin. Young caddy Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) unsure what he wants to do with his life. He has a girlfriend, waitress Maggie O'Hooligan (Sarah Holcomb), but his attention is drawn by the sexy young Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan). His parents threaten to put him to work at the lumberyard, if he doesn't get into college. When the possibility of getting a caddy scholarship comes up, Danny tries to ingratiate himself with Lacey's uncle, Judge Smails (Ted Knight), who determines the winner of the scholarship. But things aren't all sunshine and greens at the Bushwood Country Club, since gauche builder Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) is taking up golf and disturbing the snooty atmosphere. Throw in a Zen golfing master, Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), and there's plenty of fun. But the show is stolen by demented groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), and his ferocious quest to kill the gopher making a mess of the course, through high explosives if necessary.
This was Dangerfield's first substantial film role, and he really runs with it. His performance as the boorish Czervik set the mold for several succeeding roles, as the slob puncturing the stuffed shirts. His mania just pops off the screen and gives the picture a lot of life. He plays perfectly off the immaculately-coiffed and wound-too-tight Ted Knight, and the two of them alone are good for lots of laughter. Chevy Chase can't seem to decide whether he's going to go with a suave goofball or his Gerald Ford imitation, so it's not the most coherent performance. But his willingness to do just about anything to get a laugh, combined with his smarmy self-assurance makes the viewer forget the slightly schizophrenic portrayal. Murray is way over the top, as the part rather calls for, with an Ahab-like obsession over a furry little varmint (brought to life by special effects wizard John Dykstra). The gopher is never convincing, but that's really half of its charm. If it were more lifelike Murray's character wouldn't be nearly as funny. Murray is at his best as he rambles through bizarre soliloquies, while ruminates over his diminuitive nemesis.
The ostensible leads are fairly colorless, with O'Keefe being instantly forgettable. Holcomb vanished into alcohol and drug addiction immediately after this picture, and she seems to be trying to do some unidentifiable Gaelic accent that comes and goes erratically. There's a brief pregnancy subplot between them that comes and goes almost arbitrarily. One gets impatient to move them off the screen when they're taking valuable screen time away from the comedians, but thankfully Ramis has the sense not to focus on them too long. To compensate, the picture veers into bizarre surrealism at times, such as the rowdy club pool suddenly turning into a water ballet set to Waltz of the Flowers. It's incredibly strange, but somehow hilarious at the same time. High concept comedy doesn't always work, but this certainly does.
The comedy is mainly based on class distinctions, with Danny attempting to climb upward. But when your primary role model is Rodney Dangerfield, there's always a potential for disaster. Ramis and company milk the class system mercilessly for humor, especially the aggravation of the upper crust over Czervik's nouveau riche obnoxiousness. Even if one doesn't play or even like golf, the picture is very accessible and has plenty to enjoy.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: The transfer starts off on a very bad footing. The first reel looks dreadful, with dirt printed in, poorly-rendered grain, and highly prominent jagged edges on the title and credit lettering. For ten minutes or so it barely looks better than SD DVD. Apparently this is one of the films for which Warner used a 1080i master rather than a modern 1080p remaster. After the first reel, matters improve substantially, though there is still quite a lot of softness throughout. Color differentiation is very good, with the subtle greens being rendered decently well. Dangerfield's checked jacket comes across with reasonably good clarity, without much shimmer. That can't make up for the poor beginning, however.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: Both the original mono track (in DD+) and a 5.1 remix are provided. The 5.1 sounds pretty good for a low-budget film. There are occasional moments of notable directionality. The original Kenny Loggins songs (including I'm Alright) have a very nice presence to them (especially when played from Dangerfield's musical golf bag). The thunderstorm sequence has nice immersiveness, though the claps of thunder don't quite have the low range one might want to hear.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: In addition to the extraordinarily weak theatrical trailer, the only extra is the 1999 documentary Caddyshack: the 19th Hole, which features interviews with much of the cast (though mysteriously, not O'Keefe). It also features a few bits of behind-the-scenes footage and several outtakes (especially of Bill Murray improvising madly). The participants all emphasize the importance of improv to the success of the film (with Morgan going so far as to observe that very little of the script ended up on the screen). It's a worthwhile retrospective that's fairly entertaining in its own right. None of the extras are in high definition.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsA classic low-budget comedy that makes the most of its high-powered cast. The transfer could be significantly better, however, making this a somewhat disappointing release.
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