The 1980 comedy classic “Caddyshack” is playing at the Queen Theatre on Friday, Sept. 13 at 8 p.m.
Director Harold Ramis’ debut “Caddyshack” is chaotic and unfocused, playing more like a series of sketch comedy bits rather than a cohesive film. But while its plot and characters may be all over the road, the film remains a classic because it’s funny, and because of its endlessly quotable lines and recognizable situations.
The film prominently stars Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, two comedy superstars who were enjoying substantial fame at the time of the film’s release from their work on the sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live.” The film also features Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight and Henry O’Keefe as main characters. Dangerfield received the most critical acclaim for his performance at the time, but all the actors are funny throughout the film. Murray is a gem, especially when you consider the fact that many of his lines were improvised. Murray was given stage directions, but rarely actually told what to say.
The film’s script was a collaborative effort, written by Douglas Kenny of National Lampoon fame, Brian Doyle-Murray and Ramis. The three were unhappy with the final version of the film, which had evolved and been studio-edited away from their original vision of a film about caddies and their attitudes toward their employers. In fact, Kenny died of a possible drug-related suicide only a month after “Caddyshack’s” release. Ramis went on to have a very successful career, co-writing and starring in “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II,” as well as directing “Groundhog Day” and a few National Lampoon films. Doyle-Murray also had a successful career, both as an occasional writer and a prolific actor.
The film’s humor style can be described as quintessentially old fashioned. Much like “Airplane!” of the same year, the film’s humor is silly, yet deadpan and very tongue-in-cheek. The film tells the type of jokes that wouldn’t fly today, not only because some of them are offensive, but because they wouldn’t be considered as funny by today’s standards. The jokes aren’t deep or complex. They’re just silly and delivered with a straight face. That’s not to say that the movie isn’t funny; it’s hilarious, just not the type of humor that you typically see in modern comedies. Nonetheless, nostalgic audiences will find the humor style timeless, and “Caddyshack” is still more than capable of delighting fans with its whimsical nature.
It has been 39 years since “Caddyshack” was first released, and despite not being immediately appreciated in its own time, the film has gone on to leave a cultural impact and has garnered positive feedback from contemporary critics. It’s a funny film, and while it may be disjointed and fall short of the writers’ original vision, it accomplishes its task of entertaining audiences quite well. It is very much a product of its time period, yet manages to transcend decades and make people laugh even today. I’ll be at the Queen on Sept. 13, and so should you.