Some films have performances from certain actors that are so good, they actually bring the whole quality of the film up around them. This can be so effective that you can almost be “tricked” into thinking a film is good because an actor is so brilliant in it. It works particularly well when the actor who puts in a good performance is actually the centre of the film, the main part. Unfortunately for Caddyshack, the two performances that I am talking about are not central to the movie.
Those performances are of course Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. These two actors are by far the best thing in the whole film. Every scene they are in, they steal, either by delivering hilarious lines or doing fantastically funny things or just messing around in the background. Bill Murray’s Carl, an incompetent groundskeeper, hunting for a gopher much more intelligent than he is, acts more as a distraction from the main story than an integral part of the film, but just about manages to be the best thing in it. Most of the funniest lines or hilarious moments in the film belong to Bill Murray’s character, from smashing the heads off flowers while delivering his own golf commentary to the famous scene involving a pool, a chocolate bar and poo.
Chevy Chase, although only just pipped to the post by Bill Murray for the funniest character, also delivers but in a much more subtle way. His scenes with main character Danny, often offering him brilliantly funny advice or pearls of wisdom, are some of the better parts of the film too. The way he interacts with all the characters he is sharing scenes with, highlights how good a comedic talent Chevy Chase was. I haven’t seen him in anything recently where he gets to show off the natural comedy presence that he has, unlike Bill Murray who can still steal a whole film, let alone a scene.
In fact its testament to their talents that the filmmakers realised that they had two brilliant commodities and they didn’t even share a scene, so wrote one specifically for the two of them. It’s not the funniest part of the film but does show how much the movie relys on these two to keep it fresh and interesting.
Without Murray and Chase, this film would be forgettable. Its more a collection of funny scenes and stories than an actual plot and the rest of the characters are more irritating and quirky than out-and-out funny. Michael O’ Keefe’s Danny is your quintessential teenage hero, Ted Knight hams it up as the films “villain” but most annoying of all has got to be Rodney Dangerfield. He is clearly playing himself, which I’m sure was fine for the 80’s when this film was made, but his jokes and humour is dated. He is essentially performing his stand-up in each of the scenes that he is included in and it’s not my kind of humour. He was obviously a big name at the time and quite a coup for the film so sadly he seems over-used. I got bored with his character very quickly.
Unfortunately, boredom was a running theme throughout because if Murray or Chase weren’t on-screen, I didn’t really care what was going on. It was a film that without those two characters, fit into the same category as other 80’s comedies like the Police Academy movies, a collection of random jokes and “funny” scenes which are loosely tied together with a plot which becomes apparent in the final twenty minutes. Luckily, two amazing comedic talents bring Caddyshack up above the cheesy Police Academy films but only just.
Overall, another “classic” that should only be deemed so because of the great performances from Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. They hold this film together and stop it from being too cheesy or dated. Unfortunately, they aren’t really central to any plot or in it enough to make this film really good. Its watchable, but only to see how good Murray and Chase really are.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)