Caddyshack (1980) Movie Review

Caddyshack (1980)
Caddyshack (1980) DVD

By: Jake Peroni (A Toast) –

One of the best ways to get to know a person is the old “what’s your favorite movie?” question. You can learn a lot about someone by the movie they have chosen as the very best in their opinion.  For example, if you’re a lady on a first date and you notice an “excessive” amount (more than 0) of Lord of the Rings quotes, odds are you’ll be finishing yourself off later, long after he’s done crying and fallen asleep.  If it’s Freddy Got Fingered, I’ll bet he keeps Saran Wrap within arm’s reach of his bed. (RUN!)

“You Shall Not Pass, You Sha… I’m done, G’Night” ZZzzzz

The one “cop out” answer to the favorite movie question is Caddyshack. It’s a default answer for men, and should tell you they are afraid to be labeled by the question, but need an answer because their pants are still on.  In fact, if you poll every American male between ages 30 and 50,  over 75% would likely say Caddyshack is their favorite movie. The reason being that it encompasses every aspect of “fun” that men strive for. Dry humor, silly humor, one liners, drugs, farts, and boobies. It’s a comedy that withstands time.  A film that can be favorite for both a father and his son.  But when asked what the plot is, everyone seems to have a different answer.

“How’s school?” ~ “It sucks” ~ “That’s nice” = Father & Son QT

 Originally written by Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill’s brother), Harold Ramis (Egon from Ghostbusters), and Douglas Kenney (Stork from Animal House), the story was loosely adapted from the Murray brothers’ experiences working as caddies growing up. The original screenplay’s focus was solely on the main character Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) and his pursuit of a Caddy scholarship.  The movie focused on comical clashes between the cultures of the Bushwood Country Club’s elitist members and its unusual collection of working class staff.  “The Snobs vs. The Slobs”

“I’m looking at yoouuu”

A Toast

Originally planned as mere cameos in the film, it was the continuous and unscripted improv of Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase that Ramis captured while filming that altered the direction and overall storyline of the film. Their untraditional approach of creating the characters by improvising and not reciting the script may have caused disorder and agitation among other members of the cast, but translated to magic on film.

Much of it can be seen in the final cut, where the cast’s natural reactions to a scene show as genuine because they have traveled so far off script they’re not even sure if the cameras are still rolling. The “acting” is replaced with authentic emotion, which infects the audience with the old proverb I just made up, “If everyone around you is having fun, so shall you… Except if you’re the designated driver. You will not have fun. Take your water bottle and inhibition to the corner and wait to be called over to prevent the exact reverse of this proverb.”

Can you spot the DD?

It was during filming that Harold Ramis realized that the focus should be more on the comedic talents of the stars than the story of the unknown caddy, Danny. Much of the script was re-written during filming to capture more screen time with the stars. One scene in particular involves Ty Webb (Chase) intruding on Carl the assistant greenskeeper’s (Murray) home. Ramis wrote the scene, which had no bearing on the story, for the sole purpose of capturing Murray and Chase on screen together. The two have intensely disliked each other since the early days of Saturday Night Live, and the unscripted scene remains the only time the two shared the screen in a movie together.

Buddies for life… or till he yells “CUT”

The constant re-writes and volumes of footage from this movie created a difficult task in editing. The first cut of this movie clocked over four hours long, due to the hesitation to edit out so much comedy. After a series of studio edits that followed, the result seemed more like a set of skits than the story of a caddy. To intertwine the scenes together they had to go back and film the entire gopher plot line featuring Bill Murray and a puppet. This final 98 minute outcome of the movie greatly upset one of the writers, Doug Kenney, who openly despised the final version.

Is that really what a gopher looks like? That’s a nightmare.

Although the three comedians are highlighted, the film is legendary because of the performance and roles of the entire cast. Ted Knight plays Judge Elihu Smails.  He’s a traditional actor who did not partake in the off-camera hijinks and lax, party atmosphere, but his performance creates one of the all time funniest “assholes” ever put on film. The constant visual and verbal absurdity of the lesser known cast, like Judge Smail’s spoiled nephew Spaulding, create constant laughs throughout the entire movie. With comedy so deeply infused in this film, it only sparks curiosity of what Doug Kenney (writer of Animal House and founder of National Lampoon) originally envisioned for this comedy before his death in the same year it was released.


One of the greatest comedies of all time. You shouldn’t just see it, you should own it. If it still existed, I would even commit the four hours to watch the original cut of this movie.

Bonus Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever a golfball is actually hit in this movie

Take a Drink: for spontaneous dancing

Take a Drink: every time Judge Smails grunts, moans, or makes some unexplainable throat noise

Take a Drink: whenever weed is smoked

Down a Shot: whenever someone’s eyes seem to bulge out of their head

About Jake Peroni

Bestselling Author, Distinguished Film Critic, Cutting Edge Journalist, Respected Reporter, Successful Businessman... Big Fat Sh*tty Liar. Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

One comment

  1. Love, LOVE this review. I was worried Caddyshack wasn’t cool anymore, so glad to see someone championing it!

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