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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Sports > Golf > Caddyshack (1980/HD-DVD)

Caddyshack (1980/HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: B



Comedy is one of the most popular of all film genres, yet so many of them are so bad and unfunny these days (in part thanks to Political Correctness and the Extreme Rights’ censorship) that it is rare when one hits the mark.  Some say it has to do with too many skit shows and gross comedy has gone out of control, but Harold Ramis’ Caddyshack (1980) featured cast members from Saturday Night Live and he was from Second City.  That is two of the best.  Also, co-stars Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight were in great form.  The result was a huge hit that remains one of the best comedies made.


However, some revisionist history has taken place.  Part of it I believe has to do with the rollback mentality of the 1980s.  The tag line of the film sums it up best referring to the battle between snobs and slobs.  Back then, everyone was “smart enough” to know this was funny, how funny this could be and the potential for fun in the premise.  Today, it is “dangerously subversive” and stirs up ideas of “class division” that is somehow unacceptable or “Makes fun of people who don’t stay clean or take baths” and other such garbage.  Now you see how such narrow, idiotic thinking kills good filmmaking.


And then there is the gopher, which Bill Murray’s greenskeeper is trying to capture, but to no avail.  Of course, there are reactionaries who would consider this animal abuse or those who think the gofer is asking for it, but once again such loser thinking misses the point.  This is supposed to be funny and fun for those who are not dorks and so stuck up they don’t know it.  It is a comedy about human nature and is meant for everyone, though some would say in is somehow “fascist” or creates too much of a sense of “counterculture community” among other absurd ideas.


Not only are Knight and Chevy Chase (at the height of his powers) perfect as the snobs, Dangerfield is unstoppable as the guy who intends to bring the house down.  The film starts out with standard set-up scenes, then once everything is established, lookout!  For there, the film is an energetic hoot and fun.  The chemistry among the cast is classic and we have seen few comedies since then with this kind of great cast that worked.  The Ramis/Brian-Doyle Murray/Douglas Kennedy screenplay takes advantage of every opportunity the situation has and the result was a big hit that some critics would not acknowledge as good.


Ramis juggled this well and this should have been the beginning of a great directing career, and though he is funny and talented, few of the films he helmed since (the original National Lampoon’s Vacation and Analyze This) have had the heart, soul and comic timing of this one.  Doyle-Murray also has a role, along with reliable character actor Albert Salami and the sexy Cindy Morgan rounding out the memorable cast.  Warner Bros. was very smart to release this gem early on in their HD-DVD slate.  Rediscover it this way if you can.


The 1.78 X 1 1080p digital High Definition image has some haziness and grain, but the film is looking good for its age.  Cinematographer Stevan Larner (Badlands) did a better job shooting this film than he ever got credit for.  A little more work could be done on the print, but it holds up well.  The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is not horrible, taking advantage of the score by Johnny Mandel (M*A*S*H, Being There, The Verdict) having been recorded in stereo, but this was an optical monophonic theatrical release.  I’m Alright by Kenny Loggins was a big hit for the film that is also originally stereo and unfortunately led to series of much goofier, dumber, poorer and annoying later movie themes.  This is better than doing any kind of 1.0 Mono here in French and Spanish versions, but the fidelity of the dialogue and sound effects show their age.


Extras include the original theatrical trailer and Caddyshack: The 19th Hole featurette about the making of the film.  As many know, a disastrous sequel followed and may have soiled the reputation of the original more than expected, but this original Caddyshack is a golden moment in the comedy genre and this new HD-DVD will remind everyone of that in ways that are long overdue.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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