Happy Gilmore is a 1996 American sports comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan with music by Mark Mothersbaugh and produced by Robert Simonds. It stars Adam Sandler as the title character, an unsuccessful ice hockey player who discovers a newfound talent for golf. The screenplay was written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy. The film was released in cinemas on February 16, 1996 by Universal Pictures. Happy Gilmore was a commercial success, earning $41.2 million on a $12 million budget. This film was the first of multiple collaborations between Sandler and Dugan. The film won an MTV Movie Award for "Best Fight" for Adam Sandler versus Bob Barker.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Dennis Dugan|
|Produced by||Robert Simonds|
|Written by||Tim Herlihy
|Music by||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Edited by||Jeff Gourson
Steve R. Moore
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$41.2 million|
Happy Gilmore is an aspiring ice hockey player who possesses a powerful and dangerous slapshot that his father taught him as a child before he was apparently struck and killed by a wayward hockey puck, though his over aggressive streak (which once resulted in him trying to stab a guy to death with an ice skate) and lack of skating talent consistently preclude him from joining a hockey team. His girlfriend Terry, a schoolteacher, leaves him because of his hockey obsession.
His grandmother has not paid her taxes for many years. As such, she owes the IRS $270,000 in back taxes, and the house is about to be seized. Gilmore has only 90 days to come up with the money or else the house will be auctioned off. Grandma Gilmore is forced to temporarily move into a retirement home, run by a sadistic manager named Hal. While repossessing Grandma's furniture, a pair of movers challenge Happy to hit golf balls. With his unorthodox, hockey slapshot-style swing, Happy hits the ball 400 yards three times, winning $40 as a result and starts hustling golfers with his swing at the drive, leading former golf star and current club pro Chubbs Peterson to convince Happy to enter a local tournament for a chance to win "big bucks". Happy wins the tournament and earns a spot on the Pro Golf Tour, though Chubbs advises him to wait 6 months so he can improve Happy's performance.
On the tour, Happy encounters Shooter McGavin, who sees Happy as both a detriment to golf and a threat to his career. Although Happy has a powerful drive, his putting is terrible with violent outbursts and lack of golf etiquette. Commissioner Doug Thompson demands to expel him from the tour, but PR head Virginia Venit convinces him to reconsider, citing higher television ratings, increasing attendance, drawing more youthful sponsors, and that she's willing to work with Gilmore on his anger issues. Thompson threatens to fire her as well if there are any further incidents; Happy begins to improve his performance and behavior, but he is fined $25,000 along with a one-month suspension after the full-scale brawl with Bob Barker.
Despite bidding $275,000, the endorsement deal from Subway at the auction, Happy is outbid by Shooter who has purchased the house for $350,000, and Happy makes a bet with his rival based on the upcoming Tour Championship. He seeks the help of Chubbs, admitting his past mistakes and the two head to a miniature golf course. Though Happy makes progress, Chubbs falls to his death after seeing the alligator head that took his hand in golf.
Determined to win the tournament for Chubbs, Happy is evenly matched with Shooter after the first two rounds and leads Shooter by the end of the third day. On the fourth and final day, multiple unusual scenarios occur between both Happy and Shooter, with the latter losing after the former succeeds in the trick shot learned from Chubbs. Afterwards, an angry and hysterical Shooter attempts to steal Happy's gold jacket, but is chased down by Mr. Larson and an angry mob of spectators. Back at Grandma's house, the film closes with Happy being congratulated by the two-handed ghost of Chubbs, Abraham Lincoln, and the alligator.
- Adam Sandler as Happy Gilmore, a high-strung former hockey player who who discovers a unique talent for golf.
- Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin, an arrogant golfer who is one of the top stars of the Pro Golf Tour.
- Julie Bowen as Virginia Venit, a public relations director for the Pro Golf Tour.
- Frances Bay as Grandma Gilmore.
- Carl Weathers as Chubbs Peterson, a pro golfer who was forced to retire early when his hand was bitten off by an alligator. Weathers reprises the role in Sandler's 2000 film Little Nicky, despite Little Nicky being produced by New Line Cinema.
- Allen Covert as Otto, a homeless man who becomes Happy's caddy. The character is unnamed in the film (although his name is revealed in a deleted scene but is listed in the end credits). Covert reprises the role in Sandler's 2011 film Jack and Jill.
- Kevin Nealon as Gary Potter, an eccentric pro who Happy plays with in his first tournament.
- Peter Kelamis as Gary Potter's caddy.
- Richard Kiel as Mr. Larson, Happy's towering former boss.
- Dennis Dugan as Doug Thompson, the commissioner of the Pro Golf Tour.
- Joe Flaherty as Donald, an unruly fan hired by Shooter to distract Happy.
- Jared Van Snellenberg as Happy Gilmore's caddy at the Waterbury Open.
- Will Sasso as mover
- Lee Trevino as himself
- Bob Barker as himself
- Verne Lundquist as himself
- Mark Lye as himself
- Ben Stiller as Hal L. (uncredited), the sadistic orderly running the nursing home
Critical response Edit
On the film review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, they received a 60% rating based on 52 reviews with a consensus review of "Those who enjoy Adam Sandler's schtick will find plenty to love in this gleefully juvenile take on professional golf; those who don't, however, will find it unfunny and forgettable." On Metacritic, It holds a 31% rating based on 14 reviews, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews."  Brian Lowry of Variety stated that "The general tone nevertheless makes it difficult to elevate the gags beyond an occasional chuckle". Lowry only noted a few scenes he found inspired, including the fight scene with Bob Barker and when Happy attempts to find his "Happy Place" which was described as "Felliniesque". Roger Ebert gave the film one and a half stars out of four, stating that Adam Sandler's character "doesn't have a pleasing personality: He seems angry even when he's not supposed to be, and his habit of pounding everyone he dislikes is tiring in a PG-13 movie". Ebert also noted the film's product placement stating that he "probably missed a few, but I counted Diet Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Subway, Budweiser (in bottles, cans, and Bud-dispensing helmets), Michelob, Visa cards, Bell Atlantic, AT&T, Sizzler, Red Lobster, Wilson, Golf Digest, the ESPN sports network, and Top-Flite golf balls".
The scene with Barker beating up Gilmore increased ratings for The Price Is Right amongst younger demographics. Barker claimed that someone in the audience asked him about Happy Gilmore almost every day. The show's producers had previously tried, but failed, to appeal to a younger demographic with a syndicated variation of the game hosted by Doug Davidson.
Box office Edit
The film was a commercial success, ranking #2 at the US box office on its debut weekend with $8.5 million in revenue. The film was made for $12 million and grossed a total of $41.2 million worldwide, with $38.8 million of that at the North American domestic box office.
Golf.com, Consequence of Sound, and Golf Digest discussed the film, predominantly praising the villain Shooter McGavin. Other articles have covered relatively unknown trivial facts, such as Carl Weathers's missing arm, which was the same arm from the movie Predator, and the number of times nurse orderly Hal committed nursing home abuse.
The "Happy Gilmore swing," featuring a walking or running approach, is often imitated or attempted for fun, including by touring golf professionals. Three-time major champion Pádraig Harrington is particularly well-known for his impression and even uses the technique in training. The TV series Sport Science has featured Harrington's "Happy Gilmore swing," demonstrating how it can indeed generate additional distance, though at the cost of accuracy.
- The film was nominated for a Sound Effects award; foley artists spent over 40 hours designing, improving, and perfecting the sound of Adam Sandler’s golf swing.
Awards and nominationsEdit
|1997||Kid's Choice Awards||Best Movie||Nominated|
|1996||MTV Movie Award||Best Comedic Performance - Adam Sandler||Nominated|
|1996||MTV Movie Award||Best Fight - Adam Sandler & Bob Barker||Won|
Pop culture referencesEdit
In 2015, Adam Sandler and Bob Barker performed a sketch as part of "Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars" (in support of Autism Awareness). In the sketch, the two engage in another fight similar to the one in the movie this time in a hospital with both dying when each uses a sample of ebola as a biological weapon against the other. The end of the sketch has the two fighting in heaven, with Carl Weathers (as Chubbs) criticizing Sandler (calling him Happy), then quickly relenting and telling him to "kick his (Barker's) ass." The alligator and Abraham Lincoln are also seen.
- "Happy Gilmore". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 April 2009.
- "Happy Gilmore". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- "Happy Gilmore". Retrieved 1 March 2017.
- Lowry, Brian (February 19, 1996). "Happy Gilmore". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- Ebert, Roger (February 16, 1996). "Happy Gilmore". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- "Happy Gilmore Turns 20: In Praise of Shooter McGavin". 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
- Myers, Alex. "Shooter McGavin is still winning tournaments, is now officially the best villain ever - Golf Digest". Retrieved 2016-08-23.
- "Tiger Woods Takes Selfie With Shooter McGavin". Retrieved 2016-08-23.
- "12 Things You Didn't Know About Happy Gilmore". 2016-06-08. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
- "4 Instances of Nursing Home Abuse In Happy Gilmore - J Antonio Tramontana - Personal Injury Attorney". 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
- "Happy Gilmore - European Tour". 2013-06-12. Retrieved 2017-04-14.
- "Padraig Harrington demonstrates his Happy Gilmore shot at The Open Zone". Retrieved 2017-04-14.
- "Sport Science Happy Gilmore". 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2017-04-14.