Greenskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) is about to start World War III - against a gopher. Pompous Judge Smails (Ted Knight) plays to win, but his nubile niece, Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan), wants to score her own way. Playboy Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) shoots perfect golf by becoming the ball. And country club loudmouth Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) just doubled a $20,000 bet on a 10-foot putt. Insanity? No. Caddyshack.
Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Ted Knight tee off for a side-splitting round of fairway foolishness that does for golf what National Lampoon's Animal House did for fraternities and Police Academy did for law enforcement. With hitmaker Harold Ramis (National Lampoon's Vacation, Analyze This) in the director's chair, the virtuoso comic skills of all four blend into a riotous hole-in-one for comedy fans. In Caddyshack, the term "golf nut" takes on a deranged double meaning -- and nonstop laughter is par for the course!
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, 'Caddyshack' is a classic film comedy, packed with memorable scenes and funny lines that still get quoted both on and off golf courses. The tagline of "The Snobs Against The Slobs" is also applicable to first-time director Harold Ramis and first-time producer Douglas Kenney's previous screenplay for 'Animal House,' but here the theme of order and chaos clashing permeates the filmmaking itself, because creating laughs trumps everything else. Ramis, Kenney, and co-writer Brian Doyle-Murray wrote a coming-of-age story about young caddies, but once the talents of Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield (in his first film role), Ted Knight, and Bill Murray were in place and at work, the plot lost its importance. In fact, so did the script, as Ramis encouraged improvisation.
Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) is in need of a scholarship if he wants to go to college rather than work at the local lumberyard. He caddies at Bushwood Country Club and is frequently given advice by Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), son of one of the co-founders and a talented golfer. Noonan tries to get in good with the other co-founder, Judge Smails (Ted Knight), but for every right step he makes, such as suggesting a better lie during a round ("Winter rules") and taking the blame for an accident, he makes decisions that earn Smails' wrath. The oddest move is substituting into a game against Smails with $40,000 riding on it.
Danny takes the place of Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield), a boorish guest who hurls zingers at whoever is in range and taunts Smails throughout the film, mocking his clothes ("When you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? Oh, it looks good on you though."), his wife ("Hey baby, you must've been something before electricity."), and his game ("Thousand bucks you miss that putt."). The only thing the two can agree upon is to settle things between them with a round of golf.
The other plotline features assistant groundskeeper Carl (Bill Murray) trying to catch a gopher, an animatronic puppet first seen dancing as the film opens. This proves a difficult task, as the gopher is smarter than Carl and usually one step ahead. When normal means fail, Carl resorts to a high-powered rifle and explosives, leaving serious damage in his path.
The cast is very impressive, and the actors deliver memorable lines no matter how sizeable their role. The four main leads all do some of their best work here. Dangerfield sprays one-liners across a scene like a machine gun. In contrast, Chase subtly slips his jokes in. Murray is a madman, best when giving long, ridiculous, yet believable speeches about the Dalai Lama or providing the play-by-play while pretending he's playing at the Masters. Knight doesn’t get enough credit for his work. One scene, he's a pompous elitist, thinking he's doing Danny a favor by letting him mow his lawn, while the next he's a straight man taking hits from Dangerfield and Chase. The variety of styles blends well.
Similar to the films by classic comedy teams like the Marx Brothers and Abbott and Costello, 'Caddyshack' is a collection of very funny scenes tied to a loose narrative, but you should be laughing so hard and so often the flaws don't matter. Everything comes together nicely in the end – too nicely, actually. What it means for their futures isn't clear, but almost everyone comes out all right, as Kenny Loggins sings over the credits.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Brothers brings 'Caddyshack' to high-definition on a BD-25 Blu-ray disc housed inside a standard blue keepcase. It's unclear why there's little mention of the movie's pearl anniversary. The disc boots up straight to the menu screen. The Blu-ray is also reported to be Region A.
The video is given a 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer and displayed at an aspect ratio 1.78:1. The source is clean for the most part, but during the title sequence is noticeably dirty. Some of the colors have very bright, vivid hues to the point they look almost unnatural, like they are out of a comic book. The blue of Danny's jeans, the green of some of the grass at the club, the reds in Smails' office and the club's banquet area, and of course everything Czervik wears all pop out in comparison to the rest of the scene. Blacks are good, though not consistent, and shadow delineation is poor on occasion, typically when shadows occur in daytime on the course.
In the foreground and in close-ups, good details are seen in the textures, like the gopher's hair or blades of grass. Edges of objects in backgrounds and longer shots lose their sharpness. Depth won’t impress, but is adequate for the film's age, and the transfer appears free of digital artifacts.
The first thing noticeable about the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is the power of Kenny Loggins' 'I'm Alright' blaring out of the system during the opening credits. It sounds full and dynamic, and pumps out the surrounds. Unfortunately, it draws attention to the limits of the dialogue when first spoken, which comes out the front center channel with barely any support from the rest of the fronts. Although the elements are obviously different, there is still a good balance, as there is no need to adjust the volume.
Although the loud moments are infrequent, the audio track handles them with a good dynamic range. I was impressed Warner went to the trouble of moving items through channels. Smails' car can be heard moving across soundfield parallel with the gopher digging through the course. The surrounds don't offer much ambiance; there's a little at the harbor and during the rain before the heavy stuff comes down. The subwoofer is put to use delivering bass during the thunderstorm, Carl's final plan, and the music.
Even after numerous viewings, 'Caddyshack' still holds up delivering consistent laughs from a gifted group, and I recommend it. While not mind-blowing in high definition, DVD owners will want an upgrade if 'The 19th Hole' is any indication of the video quality. The documentary is good, even if not entirely unique, so fans may want to consider a rental just for that particular feature, if they don't get the Biography Channel.