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Thursday, September 1, 2011

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 93 - Happy Gilmore (1996)

Dennis Dugan is one of the worst filmmakers working today.  In the 90's he had several films starring friend and SNL alum Adam Sandler.  All of these films except Big Daddy (which was barely saved by my limited mercy) are on this list.  

Happy Gilmore is an improbable and silly movie  about the titular failed hockey star who gets a second chance at sports success as a golfer.  He is approached by a publicist in hopes that his famous antics would draw a new, younger audience to the sport of golf and he is given a few lessons in the game from an old legend played by Apollo Creed (er..hem... I mean Carl Weathers).  His goal becomes to win the Masters championship against a famous champ, a total jerk named Shooter MacGavin (Christopher MacDonald).

The concept of a loose cannon playing golf can be funny, but this film does just about everything wrong.  Always appealing to the lowest-common-denominator, Dennis Dugan focuses on stupid pratfalls and Adam Sandler's over-the-top acting style for laughs.  Scenes where he gets into a fist fight with Bob Barker and wrestles an alligator for a lost ball were merely fodder for the trailer.  This film has no funny moments and really just limps along relying on its fundamentally weak and predictable plot and Sandler’s terrible acting.

Adam Sandler has shown touches of acting ability in movies like Funny People, where he actually acts like an adult.  However, under certain directors, Dugan in particular he is drawn to these characters that are immature and extremely unfunny.  In Happy Gilmore, Sandler screams incessantly, in a perpetual fit of rage.  He isn’t really acting, he’s just emoting, and he’s not even doing that well.  In scenes where he is meant to act somewhat normal, Sandler seems to be holding back a violent fit, unable to wait for the next trailer-made scene.  

Sandler is only partly to blame, though.  Dennis Dugan is a director with a truly dreadful filmography.  His films usually involve middle school humor mixed in with adult situations, you know, because that’s funny.  His earliest movies (Problem Child and Happy Gilmore) show that he has little range.  He doesn’t really know how to drive an interesting story or direct actors, so he just has manic nonsense occur on screen.  His more recent films like the utterly offensive I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and the contemptible Grown Ups prove he hasn’t really grown into a style.  Dugan’s films are made to amuse younger audiences I assume, but he obviously thinks very little of his target audience because most of his crap is beneath an eight-year-old.

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