Happy Gilmore

on February 16, 1996 by Kim Williamson
   Unlike comedian Adam Sandler's first offering, the vilely unfunny "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore" opens more happily, coming close to hitting a TV-like three laughs per minute. Meanwhile, black-humored home video footage is recounting how the hockey-loving Happy grows up, loses his none-too-bright father, continually loses odd jobs and develops rage. By accident, he discovers he can hit a golf ball 400 feet off the tee; needing money fast to save the family home of his grandmother (Frances Bay) he overcomes his loathing of the sport and goes on tour. PGAing his way cross-country, he makes an enemy of top golfer Shooter ("Quiz Show's" Christopher McDonald), a friend in over-the-hill Chubbs ("Rocky's" Carl Weathers) and a lover in the form of tour PR executive Virginia (newcomer Julie Bowen, in an engaging turn that presages more to come).
   By the movie's sixth tee, however, the premise wears thin; antics like Happy's celebrity tournament duke-out with game-show host Bob Barker fail to shoot straight enough to keep the film out of the rough. Director Dennis Dugan ("Problem Child") does himself proud, however, with his meticulous arrangement of certain scenes; were all the movie as good as the skating-rink first kiss between Happy and Virginia or Happy and Chubbs' nighttime visit to the world's most intoxicating miniature golf course, "Happy Gilmore" would card a 66. As it is, this game's for scratch golfers only. Starring Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald and Julie Bowen. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Written by Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler. Produced by Robert Simonds. A Universal release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language and some comic sexuality. Running time: 91 min
Tags: Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen, Dennis Dugan, Tim Herlihy, Robert Simonds, A Universal release, Comedy, golfer, tour, hockey-loving, tournament

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