Why Caddyshack is the Best Sports Movie Ever
Sure, it never earned a Best-Picture Oscar like Rocky (or any other awards for that matter) and it didn't reduce grown men to tears like Field of Dreams or Brian's Song. But who gives a crap? Caddyshack took one of the least-exciting, most-exclusive sports around and made it into something that everyone could relate to and laugh at. It was the snobs against the slobs, the haves and the have-nots, Rodney Dangerfield versus Ted Knight! It had a cast of youngsters and oldsters. There was sex and drinking and drugs and swimming and fighting and gambling and, oh yeah... golf. And that goes for when they weren't filming too. In short, Caddyshack had it all.
Released in the summer of 1980, Caddyshack was only moderately successful by box office standards. That summer, by the way, was an absolute monster for silver screen comedies with both The Blues Brothers and Airplane! also hitting theaters, not to mention the underrated and under-seen Robert Wuhl flick, The Hollywood Knights. But I digress. Though Caddyshack may have been a tad lost in the shuffle among of all of those comedies, it really started gaining momentum when it made its way to video and, more importantly, cable television. It was on cable that an entire generation got to watch the movie multiple times until they could easily dispense the wit and wisdom of Ty Webb, Al Czervik, and Carl Spackler verbatim. Over 30 years later and you can still hear lines like "Hey Lama, how about a little something, y'know, for the effort" and "Hey Baby, you must have been something before electricity" and that's just at Sunday Mass.
On the golf course, Caddyshack changed everything. Visit any practice green and hear someone mimicking Chevy Chase's zen putting chant of "nanananana bupbupbup-a." Someone in any given foursome is also liable to remind one of their group "don't sell yourself short, you're a tremendous slouch." Catching a bite to eat after your round at the clubhouse? You just have to order the Spalding Smails way: "I want a hamburger. No, cheeseburger. I want a hot dog. I want a milkshake...." As for beverages, you can't go wrong with the Judge Smails suggestion: "How about a Fresca?" The lines just keep coming and coming:
"Hey Whitey, where's your hat?"
"Just be the ball."
"It's time for the old Billy Baroo."
'It's in the hole!"
Those final two, of course, courtesy of Bill Murray's iconic assistant greenskeeper, Carl Spackler. To this day Murray is practically a golf god because of that role, as well known in golfing circles as guys like Palmer, Nicklaus, and Tiger. Can you think of any other sports movie that has achieved such status within a sport and in popular culture as a whole?
All these years later, Caddyshack still holds up very well. You may not laugh at some of the things you did the first ten times you watched it, but you still laugh. I personally crack up every time Danny Noonan is introduced to Chuck Shick. There are no throwaway moments in this film. For that, and so many other reasons, Caddyshack is the best sports movie ever.