Billy Madison is a 1995 American comedy film directed by Tamra Davis. It stars Adam Sandler, Bradley Whitford, Bridgette Wilson, Norm Macdonald, and Darren McGavin. The film was written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy and produced by Robert Simonds, and was Macdonald's feature film debut. It made over $26.4 million worldwide and debuted at number one at the box office. The film received mixed reviews from critics.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tamra Davis|
|Produced by||Robert Simonds|
|Written by||Adam Sandler|
|Music by||Randy Edelman|
|Edited by||John Gilroy|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|February 10, 1995|
|Box office||$26.4 million|
Billy Madison is the 27-year-old heir to Madison Hotels, a Fortune 500 chain of 650 hotels founded by his father, retiring tycoon Brian. He spends his days drinking with friends and creating disturbances across his father's estate. One day, Billy ruins a dinner meeting between his father and his associates by acting obnoxiously. Brian loses confidence in his son and chooses his devious executive vice president, Eric Gordon, to take over the company. When Billy begs his father to reconsider his decision as he knows Eric is evil and callous, Brian reveals that he secretly bribed Billy's school teachers to give him passing grades in the hopes that doing so would help Billy get into a good college. Billy proposes that he complete all 12 grades within two weeks to prove he is competent enough to manage the company.
Shortly after enrolling into school, Billy becomes attracted to a teacher named Veronica Vaughn, who initially ignores him. Billy successfully progresses through his first two grades. He finds himself as one of Veronica's students in the third grade and earns her respect by standing up for Ernie, his friend and classmate. Billy becomes popular among the third graders and misses them as he advances through school. Billy's progress alarms Eric. Desperate to take over Madison Hotels, he blackmails Billy's elementary school principal, Max Anderson, into lying that Billy bribed him for passing grades, with a magazine containing pictures of Max's previous career as "The Revolting Blob", a masked wrestler who accidentally killed a man in the ring.
Angered, Brian reneges on his deal with Billy and renames Eric as the company's next chairman. Billy grows distraught and reverts to his carefree lifestyle. Veronica motivates him to return to school, while his elementary school classmates convince Max to admit to lying about the bribery, which enrages Eric and prompts him to throw a stapler at his secretary, accidentally knocking her out. Brian agrees to give Billy another chance, but Eric cites that Billy failed the challenge by taking more than two weeks to complete a grade. He then threatens to sue Brian if he does not pass the company onto him. Billy intervenes and challenges Eric to an academic decathlon to finally settle their feud with the winner getting to take over Madison Hotels.
Both men excel in different activities, but Billy takes a single-point lead before the contest's final event, a Jeopardy!-style academic test. Billy gives a completely imbecilic answer for the opening question, and Eric is given the chance to win the contest by answering a question regarding business ethics. Eric, being an incredibly corrupt businessman, cannot conceive of an answer and breaks down. He brandishes a revolver, but Max, in his wrestling gear, charges out from backstage and tackles Eric before he can harm Billy. Eric recovers from the attack and attempts to shoot Veronica while laughing insanely, but he is shot in the butt by Danny McGrath, a rifle-wielding madman whom Billy apologized to earlier for bullying him.
At his graduation ceremony, Billy, deciding that he is not fit for running a hotel company, announces he will pass chairmanship of Madison Hotels to Carl Alphonse, his father's loyal operations manager, who is friends with Billy and is also much more intelligent and honest than Eric, and attend college in order to become a teacher. Eric, now walking on crutches due to his butt wound, watches on and fumes in frustration over Billy's decision.
- Adam Sandler as Billy Madison
- Darren McGavin as Brian Madison
- Bridgette Wilson as Veronica Vaughn
- Bradley Whitford as Eric Gordon
- Josh Mostel as Principal Max Anderson
- Norm Macdonald as Frank
- Mark Beltzman as Jack
- Larry Hankin as Carl Alphonse
- Theresa Merritt as Juanita
- Jim Downey as Principal/Judge of the decathlon
- Hrant Alianak as Pete
- Dina Platias as Ms. Lippy
- Robert Smigel as Mr. Oblaski
- Steve Buscemi as Danny McGrath (uncredited)
- Chris Farley as Bus Driver (uncredited)
- Greg Valcov as The Penguin (uncredited)
On the film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a mediocre approval rating of 40% based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 4.73/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Audiences who enjoy Adam Sandler's belligerent comic energy may find him in joyously obnoxious form as Billy Madison, but this thinly-plotted starring vehicle surrounds its star with an aggressively pedestrian movie." On Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 16 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".
Richard Schickel panned the film, calling it "one of the most execrable movies ever made". Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times commented; "Sandler has a bad habit of thinking he is funnier than we are". On At the Movies, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both gave the film thumbs down, and Roger Ebert said of Sandler, "...Not an attractive screen presence. He might have a career as a villain or as a fall guy or the butt of a joke, but as the protagonist his problem is that he recreates the fingernails on the blackboard syndrome." Gene Siskel added "...you don't have a good motivation for the character's behavior". Owen Gleiberman also panned the film, saying "By the end, you feel like a drill sergeant—you want to wipe that stupid grin off Sandler's face". Rita Kempley of The Washington Post said the film was trying to be "A more kid-friendly version of 'Dumb and Dumber.' And there's even a moral: 'Yahoo for education,' though the movie doesn't really put any muscle behind it."
Janet Maslin of The New York Times gave the film a mixed review, saying "It succeeds as a reasonably smart no-brainer. If you've ever had a yearning to relive the third grade, this must be the next best thing." Brian Lowry of Variety also gave the film a mixed review, saying "There are a few bursts of sheer, irresistible idiocy—along the lines of 'Wayne's World' or even 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure'—but not enough to sustain the more arid stretches."
Billy Mowbray of Film4 gave the film a positive review, writing: "When you get that Sandler's comedic persona is meant to be annoying, like Beavis and Butthead or Cartman, the laughs come thick and fast". Kevin N. Laforest said, "Okay, the plot is inane, but it's the basis of a series of really funny scenes."
|1995||MTV Movie Awards||Best Comedic Performance - Adam Sandler||Nominated|
- Songs featured in the film
- "Billy Madison". Box Office Mojo.
- "Billy Madison (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media.
- "Billy Madison Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- Schickel, Richard (March 1995). "Billy Madison Review". Time.
- Rainer, Peter (February 11, 1995). "MOVIE REVIEW: No New Lessons When 'Billy' Goes Back to Public School". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- "The Brady Bunch Movie, Just Cause, Billy Madison, Mr. Payback, 1995". Siskel and Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved 28 July 2019. Event occurs at 4:40-6:55.
- Gleiberman, Owen (February 24, 1995). "Billy Madison". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
- Kempley, Rita (February 11, 1995). "Billy Madison". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
- Maslin, Janet (February 11, 1995). "FILM REVIEW; Repeating Grades 1-12: Do the Daiquiris Help?". Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- Lowry, Brian (February 12, 1995). "Review: 'Billy Madison'". Variety. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
- Mowbray, Billy. "Billy Madison Review". Channel 4. Archived from the original on October 15, 2003. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
- Laforest, Kevin (May 1, 2002). "Billy Madison". Montreal Film Journal. Retrieved 5 June 2014.