Universal // 1995 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // March 16th, 2000
To inherit his family's fortune, Billy is going back to school...way back
Opening Statement Adam Sandler's first film is, for all intents and purposes, an experiment in stupidity. Like throwing spaghetti up against a wall, some of it sticks while most of it falls right off. Billy Madison is certainly proof of how far Adam Sandler has matured in his career thus far, but then again, that's not saying much. Universal delivers Billy Madison up as standard movie-only fare on DVD.
Don't get me wrong, I like Adam Sandler. When I first saw Billy Madison I was constantly on the floor laughing...but that was five years ago. Throughout the film, Sandler cracks some good jokes, which pretty much can keep the audience laughing right up until the end of the movie, but in retrospect, these jokes don't play as well the second time around.
Billy Madison starts off with spoiled big-little rich kid Billy (Sandler) wasting his life away in his father's pool. After a brief penguin chase (no, I'm not lying) and stupidity at the dinner table, Billy's father decides that he cannot possibly leave his multi-million dollar hotel company to his moron son. When Billy objects to his father's decision, Mr. Madison discloses that Billy couldn't even get through school without the help of bribes. Subsequently, Billy makes a bet with his father that if he can return to school and complete grades 1-12 in two weeks (each) then he will inherit the company. Naturally, Mr. Madison agrees and Billy heads back to school.
During his journey through elementary school Billy falls in love with his third grade teacher, Ms. Vaughn (Bridgette Wilson), who at first is repulsed by Billy's return to school but later admires Billy's loyalty to his newfound school kid friends. As Billy races up the education ladder, corporate weasel Eric (Bradley Whitford) schemes to prevent Billy from graduating in order to obtain ownership of the Madison company. But, with a little help from his friends (including Chris Farley and Steve Buscemi) we all know that Billy can achieve his goal.
Universal sends us Billy Madison on DVD in a standard, non-collector's edition, disc Granted, Universal was the company who brought us the Collector's Edition of Mallrats, at least that disc focused on those involved with the film describing how bad it was. I just don't think we want to go too far in analyzing Billy Madison as a film...
O.K., so where was I? The movie is presented in its original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The video quality on the disc is top-notch with no sign of grain or compression artifacts. In the audio department, Billy Madison delivers with a decent 5.1 surround mix. This film is no Armageddon, so there's really not much to test out your thousand dollar surround sound system. However, the dialogue placement is accurate, background music sounds good, and the very few surround effects placed here and there work on a subtle level -- as they should. Extra content is limited to a theatrical trailer, production notes, and a few cast & crew bios.
If you're not an Adam Sandler fan, don't waste your time with Billy Madison. You won't like it. As a matter of fact, you'll probably hate it. You either find Adam Sandler funny or you don't, but there is no neutrality to the man. Also note that more recent big-screen offerings (like Big Daddy) present a more mature and toned down Adam Sandler (believe it or not). I enjoy Billy Madison, but the film is starting to grow tired on me (especially the first half hour of it). Out of all Sandler films, I must say I prefer Happy Gilmore as Sandler's greatest "achievement."
An audio commentary on this disc from Adam Sandler would have been enjoyable, but no such luck. Otherwise, I don't think there is too much more I would want to know about Billy Madison.
Universal has done a good job presenting Adam Sandler in his grand stupidity with the DVD release of Billy Madison. Fans will want to own this disc as the stellar transfer will most likely hold up for many years to come.
Universal and Adam Sandler acquitted on all counts.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Theatrical Trailer
* Production Notes
* Cast and Crew Biographies
* Web Links
* Adam Sandler Official Site