Judge Daryl Loomis gets a free bowl of soup with every hat he buys.
Our reviews of Best of Warner Brothers: 20-Film Comedy Collection (published July 14th, 2013), Caddyshack: 20th Anniversary Edition (published April 7th, 2000), Caddyshack (Blu-ray) (published September 7th, 2011), and Caddyshack (HD DVD) (published September 4th, 2006) are also available.
You'll get nothing and like it!
Will Caddyshack, my favorite comedy and the favorite of a whole generation of golfers, ever get a proper DVD treatment? Based on the fact that, on its 30th anniversary, this is the release Warner Bros. has provided, the answer is almost certainly no.
Facts of the Case
Young caddy Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe, Ironweed) wants to win a college scholarship provided by his place of work, the Bushwood Country Club. To have a chance, he must kiss up to the curmudgeonly Judge Smails (Ted Knight, The Mary Tyler Moore Show), but he's hard to please. The judge is up in arms because of his jealousy of Ty Webb (Chevy Chase, Snow Dogs) and his nonchalant golf game, the presence of a new money interloper (Rodney Dangerfield, Back to School), and a groundhog problem that grounds keeper Carl (Bill Murray, Rushmore) is making worse. If Danny can win a golf tournament, however, he just might make Judge Smails see his worth.
With its Kenny Loggins soundtrack and high-wasted jeans, there is no doubt that Caddyshack is a product of its time. Despite that, the film is still remarkably funny thirty years after its initial release. Absurd and chaotic, Caddyshack is powered by the immense force of comedic talent involved, some still young and others already legends. Recent Saturday Night Live alums Chase and Murray together with veteran straight man Knight and the singular talent of Dangerfield are a considerable foursome that has rarely been matched. With them throwing their weight around, it's easy to overlook the triteness of the story.
When it's funny, Caddyshack is as good as anything you'll find. Not every scene works well though, and when it's off, the film falls very flat. For instance, the romance between Ty Webb and Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan, TRON). This subplot is utterly unrelated to the rest of the film, takes up far too much of the second act, and slows the pace down while adding nothing to the overall story. At least Danny's romance with his Irish girlfriend gives him a little character. It may not be terribly funny, but he gets to show some humanity in the brief pregnancy scare. Ty never shows anything close to that anywhere in the movie.
That romance may be the one thing that really bugs me about the movie, but the plot as a whole is little more than a background for the comedians to work their magic. Why would a caddy golf tournament make a judge care about a scholarship? No reason, that's why. It has no logic, but serves an important purpose: to get Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield into an argument, which is pure gold. I can complain about particular problems with the story, but the story is about as important to Caddyshack as it was to the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup, which is to say not at all. Caddyshack feels less like a complete film than a series of related sketches, but it's funnier for it. Never are all four comedians together in the film at the same time. The only scene where Chase and Murray, two of the most popular comedians of the time, appear at the same time was tacked on at the end so they could have a scene together, not because it built the story in any way. Even without a plausible story, first time director Harold Ramis (Stuart Saves His Family) still managed to create the funniest, most enduring comedy of its era.
If that's true, though, why has it always received such shoddy treatment on DVD? Warner Bros. isn't known for their extensively supplemented discs, so it shouldn't be so surprising. Seriously, though, it's been ten years since their last second-rate release and the best they could come up with was the exact same disc with the "20th Anniversary Edition" stricken from the box art. Pathetic. As it is, the image is subpar, with an overall flat look and significant grain in the brighter scenes. The sound is a little better, letting you hear the strains of Loggins all the more sweetly. The only extra outside a trailer is "The 19th Hole," the same too short but informative featurette that has been on every release of the film. Oh well, my old disc was pretty scratched, so this is a replacement. It's something, I guess, but if your old disc is still good, you have no reason to lay another dollar down.
It seems strange that I have so many negative things to say about Caddyshack. I love the film dearly, but it's far from perfect. At times, it's gut-busting hilarious, but at others, it's a slog through a plot that borders on the inane. I'll watch this disc until it's worn out as well, and luckily, Warner will be on board in a few more years to triple-dip the exact same disc.
Faults aside, Caddyshack is most certainly not guilty. Warner Bros.,
on the other hand, is ordered to stay in court to await further charges about
why they think this film deserves such little care.
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