The JOE-DOWN Reviews ‘Caddyshack’

Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “Caddyshack.”

The info:

The Movie: “Caddyshack”

Starring: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray

Director: Harold Ramis

Plot Summary: (From IMDB) An exclusive golf course has to deal with a brash new member and a destructive dancing gopher.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 73 percent

Our take:

Froemming: Time to pop off our hockey skates and put on our golf cleats, Brown. Because this week, we are going back to Bushwood Country Club, but this time we will be able to, you know, enjoy it. 

Yup, we are reviewing “Caddyshack,” a film that is more random skits strung together than a proper movie. A film whose plot as a coming-of-age tale was sidelined by the enormous egos  hilarity of stars Chevy Chase and Bill Murray.  A film which could have just as easily been called “Cocaine: The Movie.” Because, oh boy, watching this feels like it can burn a hole through your septum.

Oh, it is a movie in which the only thing holding it together plot-wise is a gopher who dances to the tunes of Kenny Loggins.

Brown, as the Bushwood employees and I take bets on the Smails kid eating his boogers, what are your first thoughts?

Brown: So I watched “Caddyshack” for the first time in eighth grade and I remember not really liking it. My sense of humor hadn’t evolved beyond the Baby Ruth “doodie” in the pool joke.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to really appreciate “Caddyshack” for its randomness and the power of the comedians in this flick with in-their-primes Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, along with Rodney Dangerfield and his coke addiction. To be fair, everyone (but Ted Knight) was apparently on coke during filming

Even now, as a recently-turned 35 year old, I didn’t catch all the flop sweat (likely from all the coke) until you mentioned it last week. 

I don’t know if we’ll say anything that hasn’t been said about this movie before. “Caddyshack” is a legend for a reason. 

So, Froemming, I’ll let you get started while I suck my gut in around Lacey Underall. 

Froemming: *Farts loudly* Did someone step on a duck?

Anyway, the movie begins with our dancing gopher, the one plot thread holding this cocaine mess together. We then meet Danny Noonan, a caddy at Bushwood and a member of a family that does not believe in condoms. Because he has what looks like 20 siblings all under the same roof.

Danny is trying to save up for college. I imagine this was the original plot that was sidelined by a Tony Montana amount of cocaine on the set

Brown: Like me, did you try to count all the people running around the Noonan house? I think I got to 13 before I lost count. It was somehow more busy that the McAllister house from “Home Alone.”

From his parents’ constant nagging about his job and his utter indifference, we find out very quickly that Danny is your classic underachiever. After a weirdly-shot bike ride to work that looks like it was green screened, we see Danny carrying the clubs for Ty Webb (Chase). 

This movie was Chevy Chase at his absolute zenith playing a character tailor-made for him: A snarky but charming upper-class dipshit. 

Froemming: This and Courtney Love playing the wife of Larry Flynt are great examples of someone not having to really act in a movie, but play themselves.

But yes, this was — as Al Franken said at Chevy’s roast in the early 2000s — before he snorted the funny out of himself. This movie, “Fletch,” “Vacation” and “Three Amigos” are hands-down classics. Then he did “Vegas Vacation” and was not seen again until he randomly showed up on “Community.”

Brown: Well, he did have one of my favorite cameos in the movie “Dirty Work” when he played Dr. Farthing, the chronic gambler that bet against Rocky in “Rocky III.”

In the clubhouse, Judge Smails arrives and instantly becomes our antagonist in this snobs-vs.-slobs classic. He’s telling the clubhouse attendant (a black man) to call for a tow after someone parked in his spot and making said clubhouse attendant get his (REDACTED) shinebox

Even before Smails gets to the clubhouse, he sees our dancing gopher tearing up the course. He talks to the greenskeeper, who then talks to his “best man,” Carl Spackler (Murray). 

And what’s Carl doing? Oh, he’s jerking off a ball washing station and talking like a lonely creep (we can smell our own kind) while women golfers finish up a hole. 

It does lead to one of the best one-liners of the movie. 

Part of me thinks this movie has as much contempt for Irish people as ghost crooner Artie Kendall

Froemming: After this, we meet Lou Loomis (Brian Doyle-Murray, who co-wrote this). This was his life before trucking Yoo-hoo  across the country so he can pay for the care of his poor, poor bubble boy.

Lou has Danny take over the snack shack, where we find out people complained in 1979 about a bottle of Coke costing 50 cents. Welcome to Jimmy Carter’s America. 

Danny, feeling brave with the safety of a door with a lock, begins cracking wise at another caddy (don’t remember his name, and for a movie called “Caddyshack” there really isn’t a lot about the caddies in this).

Well, this leads nearly to a fight once Danny is booted from his safe space, resulting in a damn gumball machine toppling over. 

Again, welcome to Jimmy Carter’s America.

Brown: If this review feels scatterbrained, it’s because this movie is scatterbrained. It’s pretty much a bunch of stories happening around the golf course like it’s Quentin Tarantino’s attempt at a sports movie.

Lou tells all the caddies (after berating them for inappropriate behavior) that a caddie scholarship is open after the latest recipient killed himself. While Danny is unsure about his future, he decides that getting this scholarship is his ticket out of a life spent at a lumberyard. Unfortunately, this means that he has to suck up to Judge Smails.

Not only does he have to deal with the normal Judge Smails, a cheapskate who later admits to sending people to the electric chair because he “felt he owed it to them.” But Danny has to deal with an irate Smails because a guest of the club, real estate tycoon Al Czervik (Dangerfield). 

This rivalry is basically your new rich vs. old rich, played with amazing sarcasm and wit from Dangerfield against a perfect straight man in Knight. 

Froemming: It is shocking how much “Caddyshack II” was just a remake of this. 

Brown: “Caddyshack II” is this movie going through cocaine withdrawals.

Froemming: So Al comes bursting into the gift shop, loud and brash and obnoxious, leading me to finally see — with clear eyes — maybe, just maybe this was the reason Mr. Dangerfield never got any respect. No respect at all.

But it has my favorite line in the whole movie that I am just waiting to use on someone someday:

Brown: I could see you using that line but I can’t see you on a golf course. 

Frankly, Al’s round, which sees him drinking beer from a keg in his bag and disrupting everyone by playing “Journey” in the fairway, is the only time golf has looked fun to me. 

Also, I want to learn how to dance like Dangerfield. 

Al’s behavior is getting under Smails’ craw. It comes to a head when, on the final hole, a frustrated Al (due to Smails’ slow play) bets $1,000 that Smails misses a putt, which he does. Blinded by anger, Smails throws his club and hits a diner at the clubhouse. 

I should also mention that during this round, we get introduced to Spaulding, who has my favorite sight gag of any movie. Look in the background as Smails cheats at golf not unlike our 45th President. 

That’s what it’s like when I’ve played golf. Complete with the swearing. 

Froemming: Best part was I never noticed until you pointed it out to me last week when we watched this. 

We also get Smails giving his sage advice to Danny about the caddy scholarship and college: The world needs ditch diggers too. 

Ooof. That is one of the coldest (REDACTED) yous in cinema history. 

After the judge pays for the lunch of his victim he hit with his wild putter throw (that was how health insurance worked before Obamacare) Danny hits another snack shack, where he flirts with Maggie O’Hooligan, whom I never realized had a thick Irish accent until I watched it for this review.

I feel like I need to be on coke to follow everything anything in this movie. She gives Danny free food and asks him to bus tables at a fancy dinner that night. A fancy dinner which has my second favorite line in this whole movie.

Brown: Fart jokes will never be unfunny. 

This dinner party is more of Al annoying the hell out of Smails, going so far as asking Smails’ wife if she wants to earn $14 “the hard way.”

As charming as Al is, that’s a dick move, bro. 

Also at the dinner party, Ty meets Lacey, Smails’ promiscuous niece that enjoys activities like skinny skiing (no one who lives in cold-weather states would say this) and attending bullfights on acid. That leads to some humorous Chevy-isms and snorting salt?

Froemming: Yeah, “salt.” Ty is also super rich but has to cobble together half empty water bottles to offer her something to drink. We see he has checks for $75,000 lying around, but he can’t afford more Perrier?

Brown: ALSO (because this movie is 90 minutes of B-plots), Carl tries killing the gopher with a sniper rifle. He’s pretty much every crazed Vietnam veteran stereotype in this pursuit. I still like him better than noted vodka salesman Dan Aykroyd’s Captain Tom Everett in “Caddyshack II.”

Back to our main plot (??) Danny plays in the Caddy Day tournament and ends up sinking a clutch putt to take first place and win the scholarship. His putt does lead to a line any sports fan has said to try and psych out an opponent.

Then Danny goes and has sex with Maggie. This scene always confuses me. Does Maggie’s family live on the golf course? 

Froemming: I thought she was, like, an exchange student or something? This makes zero sense, and trying to make sense of a cocaine fever-dream is a fool’s errand, so let’s move on.

Danny is invited to mow the lawn of Smails after he won the scholarship, which is a pretty shitty prize to win, if you ask me. But, he can come visit after his yard work is complete, and he does, showing up like he is about to play keyboards with Tennille:

Brown: Elsewhere during Caddie Day, the caddies make a mess of the pool in their 15 minutes of time. Lacey (well, her stunt double) performs a perfect swan dive. And a Baby Ruth candy bar gets mistaken for poop in the pool. If we’ve learned anything from Frank Reynolds, poop is always funny

AND at Smails’ boat christening, Al causes a scene and ends up destroying the Flying Wasp with his anchor. 

AND (again, this movie has the attention span of, well, a cocaine addict), Danny has sex with Lacey in Smails’ bed.

This is less a movie and more a collection of “Dorf on Golf” skits.

Froemming: And some of these skits seem only half-written at times. Also, Danny is kind of a dick for sleeping with two different women. The 1970s was a weird time, man.

And because I can’t remember when this part lands, and I want us to discuss it before the big match, let’s talk about the bishop who has his best golf game of his life in a thunderstorm. Because, this is such a random scene, but holy hell I laugh way too hard at it.

Brown: Oh, that sequence is my favorite part of the movie. 

So the bishop wants to get a quick nine holes in before a pending thunderstorm. He gets Carl to be his caddie. And everything is going his way despite a torrential downpour. 

After all, “the good lord would never disrupt the best game of (his) life.” There’s even one point where he overshoots a putt, only for it to spin back and go in. It was more egregious than when Happy Gilmore did the same thing. 

Froemming: Then he misses his final put, and screams “rat farts!” which I hope golfers yell when this happens to them to this day. In fact, I am going to start yelling that when I am having a bad time at work. 

And then he is struck by lightning!

The best part, Carl who was egging him on to continue, slinks away as the poor Bishop is lying nearly dead on the green. 

Brown: Let’s just put the scene here and let people enjoy the insanity. And, I like that later in the movie, you see the bishop has renounced his faith in God after, you know, being struck by lightning. 

This is pretty much an “SNL” skit that made its way into “Caddyshack” because, like so much in this movie, it has no bearing on the plot. NONE AT ALL.

Froemming: Now we get to the kinda plot that took over the movie: Al and the Judge.

Smails confronts Al, saying he will never be a member at Bushwood, which Al really doesn’t care anyway since he is there to look into buying up the property, not be some weirdo in goofy pants and having a hat that one would probably get a free bowl of soup with.

But this blow-up leads to a game between these two men: A golf game. With partners. And the Judge is rejected by Ty, who by this time I forgot was even in this movie. You could probably cut Chase out of this movie completely and it wouldn’t affect the plot. Well, you could do that with any of the characters, because the only plotline is the dancing gopher.

But Ty sides with Al, because he doesn’t seem to like Smails much at all. 

And the night before, we get one of the weirdest shoehorned scenes of the movie. See, Ramis realized there was no scene with both Murray and Chase (they have an interesting history of not liking one another) so they had to throw one together.

So Ty somehow hits a ball into Carl’s shanty, and they share some wine and a comically large joint, or as Brown knows it as a marijuana cigarette. 

Brown: I prefer the term “jazz cigarette.”

The scene does feel a little shoehorned, but it at least fits the plot of Ty being nervous about playing in the big match. He’s all about zen and not giving a (REDACTED) and this match doesn’t jive with that. Yeah, it’s convoluted how he meets up with Carl, but the scene itself makes more sense than our beloved bishop golfing. 

The match gets underway, and Ty and Al are struggling against Smails and Dr. Beeper. More weird for Ty is that Danny is Smails’ caddie on this day because, again, scholarship and all. 

After nine holes and in a pit of frustration, Al doubles the bet to $40,000. But on his tee shot on 10, the ball ricochets off the ball cleaner and hits Al in the arm weakly. He then claims injury and gets a fill-in. Taking his place is Danny, who denounces the caddie scholarship and Smails’ friendship because, well, Smails sucks. 

Froemming: Well, Al does say he will make it worth his while, which I assume he will pay for Danny’s college, because college back then was like $400. 

Also, I think Al has a crippling gambling addiction because he keeps raising the bet the worse off he is in the game. 

Brown: Al is absolutely gonna lose his thumbs like Moe. 

Froemming: And on the final hole, the Judge sinks a birdie, meaning Danny has a lot of pressure to sink a putt to win. And Danny comes close, but doesn’t make the hole.

Until Carl blows up the (REDACTED) course with explosives. Because he has gone scorched earth in his pursuit of ridding Bushwood of that dancing gopher. 

And because the explosions cause the earth to move under their feet, the ball drops in the hole and the Judge is humiliated.

Brown: Smails doesn’t want to pay up, so Al uses the tried-and-true method of using hired goons to get the money. 

Then, we get the greatest closing line in cinema history. 

The gopher dances again and a Kenny Loggins song plays over the credits because he scored every popular movie of the 1980s.

Froemming, let’s get to recommendations while I do a cannonball with Carl.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

Froemming: Yup. There is a paper-thin plot, but the jokes make up for the lack of story.

Brown: Of course. It’s one of the best ensemble comedies ever.

Here is what’s coming up for the next JOE-DOWN

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